I am in charge of the creative aspects of the brand, in particular related to product concept, product design and development. Our department includes the design team, but also the Métiers d’Art workshop, as well as the Atelier Cabinotiers, in charge of the design, conception and realization of made-to-order timepieces. So, as a result, most of my time is dedicated to the creative aspects related to the product.
Where do you see room for improvement? As one of your founders said, there is always a way to do better.
Of course, we do our best efforts to do better if possible, which is always possible! We are constantly seeking for new ideas or new ways to improve our watchmaking art… and year after year we feel that we come closer to “watchmaking excellence”.
Using specific examples, how would you define the DNA of Vacheron Constantin?
We see four main axes, when speaking about the DNA of our brand:
o Heritage: founded in 1755, Vacheron Constantin is the oldest watchmaking brand, having a non-stop activity since now 257 years.
o Technical and Aesthetical excellence: we take the greatest care into the design of our movements, not only from the technical point of view, but also when considering the shapes of components, and of course the outstanding hand-made finishings… and this care for aesthetical excellence is also present in other elements of our timepieces, in particular when considering design aspects, and – again – finishings of external components of our watches such as cases, dials, etc…
o “Métiers d’Art” mastery: our traditional decorative crafts (enamelling, engraving, guillochage and stone-setting) are indivisible from our watchmaking art, as it is the case, for example, in the very first watch manufactured by Jean-Marc Vacheron: this pocket watch was adorned with a fine hand-engraving on the movement.
o A long term and warm Client relationship: being founded in the 18th century, Vacheron Constantin has been obviously one of the very first watchmaking companies exporting in Europe and beyond. Vacheron Constantin also shares its passion for the finest watchmaking with its clients. It favours a one to one relation, a strong tradition of the made to order (in the Cabinotiers spirit).
What are some characteristic hallmarks of the brand as seen on the watches?
Vacheron Constantin is famous for its classic, balanced, refined design. In today’s collection, the Patrimony line certainly embodies these characteristics. Being a classic brand does not mean that we are designing “old” or vintage timepieces, but rather look for “timeless classicism”, and for this reason our products are long-lasting and do not lose their appeal, year after year.
How would you like VC to be perceived in the marketplace?
In a nutshell: “Vacheron Constantin, leader of watchmaking excellence”. It sounds clear and it’s a great challenge everyday!
What are your strengths as a brand?
Talking about products, we are positioned at the top of High Horology: our company has always maintained a very high level of bienfacture, and overall quality. Vacheron Constantin is considered as a benchmark in High Watchmaking, thanks to its seniority – more than 250 years of experience! – and its mastery of all aspects of watchmaking, from the simplest movements with time only indication, up to the most complicated designs, such as the Tour de l’Ile, presented in 2005, the most complicated wristwatch ever made in series.
In addition, as mentioned before, our classic, timeless design is a great strength, and we also take care of all aspects of design – including the smallest details. On top of that, our Atelier Cabinotiers is a unique service for bespoke, made-to-order watches and this is clearly another important differentiation point versus our competitors.
How much influence do your collectors have over the product?
I think that collectors are very important and precious people to discuss with, as they are – most of them at least! – giving you a clear and direct feedback on the new creations. At Vacheron Constantin, we organize dinners and some events with collectors – we have our own club, the Hour Club – and so we can share our passion for watchmaking.
How do you go about designing for “future” product tendencies?
It’s always – obviously – not easy to determine which product tendencies are going to be successful in the future! Watchmaking is very successful and we see many different trends on the market today. Maybe the most challenging, for us, is to be faithful to our “roots”, our DNA… and so to continue to create and develop “true Vacheron Constantin designs”. We have some prospective designs and ideas that we discuss internally and that can influence us in a near future, but we feel that most important for us is to remain authentic and faithful the the spirit of Vacheron Constantin.
You are a historic brand but must attract a younger demographic to stay vibrant. How do you address this in design choices?
We have a diversified portfolio, with several collections which are clearly different one from the other. This allows our clients to find “their” Vacheron Constantin design, depending on their tastes and their age, also. A good example could be the Quai de l’Ile collection, which is offering the best of Vacheron Constantin tradition with state-of-the-art movements bearing the famous Geneva Hallmark, and housed in a very modern, contemporary case and dial. The modern expression of our classical style.
How much risk are you willing to take in your designs?
Definitively, the Métiers d’Art collection can be a “creative playground” for us, as we have the unique opportunity to combine our watchmaking art together with spectacular decorative crafts… and we are preparing some very interesting and innovative designs within this collection!