Tell us about the celebration plans for Vacheron Constantin’s 260th anniversary this year.
We decided to not start by throwing a big birthday party, but by showing what our 260 years of history has given us, and what we have built in terms of expertise. We have launched a new Harmony line that encompasses four new calibres and completes our new range of contemporary calibres. The work includes in the area of our Métiers d’Art collection and importantly table clocks, which we did a lot in the first half of the 20th century. We have decided to re-launch table clocks with a completely new table clock calibre. Throughout the year, we will be launching other new novelties. Our 260 years of uninterrupted history is clearly reflected in these new timepieces that combine technical and aesthetical excellence as well as our superlative level of finishing.
How is Vacheron’s long history and heritage important for the brand, from the marketing perspective?
It is a big wealth of references and inspiration, and at the same time it’s a duty. From the marketing perspective, this company has lived continuously for 260 years, which is extraordinary. We have to allow this company to continue for the next 260 years, as it has its own DNA, it has its own style and its own spirit. I would say the challenge is to continue the development of our maison by staying true to our values, while continuously reinventing it.
There are a large number of Swiss and French watch brands that have been existence for more than a century, what is it that makes Vacheron Constantin’s heritage unique?
What is unique is that we believe that a generation is of 25 years, and now 260 years later, we have more than 10 generations of people that have worked on our watches and worn our watches. And over these two centuries Vacheron has perpetrated a vision of watch-making. From the beginning, the brand has been seeing timepieces not just as a functional object to measure time but also as an ornamental object and aesthetical object that has to be decorated. So, that is why craftsmanship, what we call the Métiers d’Art or artistic crafts, are so important to Vacheron Constantin.
You have also been closely involved in Vacheron’s promotion of the artistic crafts. How important has this activity been for the brand? What are its most important highlights?
We realised very quickly that the craftsmanship we were putting in our watches had two issues. One, we needed to make sure we could perpetrate this craftsmanship, and there was a lack of schools or ways to learn this craftsmanship. We had to take upon this responsibility ourselves and train apprentices in these crafts. The number of apprentices we have today just for watch-making is 28, not counting the apprentices in the artistic crafts. Some of the crafts we are involved with is not learnt in school, so we have to take this into account and manage it ourselves.
Then we have to make sure that we have enough applicants who want to learn and master this art. We had to work on making the artistic crafts appealing and aspirational for young people. We decided to do this by showcasing the best of these exceptional collections. We realised we needed to get in touch with people, have conversations with them and start organising exhibitions and demonstrations so that people would understand all that goes into the making of our products. And when we started doing that, we realised that there are other crafts in which we had to be active. We needed to find people who liked to learn this craft. That was the whole process. We work with a larger number of crafts, many of which we use at the company, and many for the benefit of the larger community.
You have been involved with promoting photography in India through Tasveer. Could you give us your assessment of the project and would you continue doing it?
The owner of Tasveer is a man of great culture and sensitivity. Besides his huge collection of photographs, we found that we had common ideas about the sensitivity for the aesthetics and beauty. The collectors of Tasveer gallery’s art, and Vacheron Constantin clients have many things in common. That is the reason we started working together. We have been associated with some great projects over the last three years.