As one of the world’s oldest watchmakers, one might assume that Vacheron Constantin is not as digitally deft as its younger counterparts. Not so, as from October 5 to 15, the Swiss maison will debut its first online auction with Sotheby’s, which will showcase six significant vintage watches from its heritage collection of over 1,000 pieces – ensuring each timepiece has not only been directly sourced in-house, but comes with a certificate of authenticity.
Several pieces date from the 1940s – and embody the sleek midcentury aesthetic that’s recently been trending again. There’s the yellow gold ref 4195 (£7,000 to £10,000) with its rectangular case and extra-thick glass, which would not look out of place on the set of Mad Men; the 1942 ref 4072 chronograph (£20,000 to £30,000) in patinated rose gold; and a 1948 model 4178 in pink gold (estimated at £20,000 to £30,000), which features signature Doberman-like dog-ear lugs that reveal its underlying movement – the manual-winding 492. The 1945 stainless-steel ref 4240 complete calendar (£8,000 to £12,000), moreover, inspired the house’s recent Historiques Triple Calendrier collection.
A 1960s ref 6440 (£15,000 to £25,000) shows the playful side of the house, with its fun indices set onto a striking yellow gold square case. It is the only self-winding watch in the sale and features a special oscillating weight in guilloched gold that was patented in 1958. The Grand Complication ref 49005/000P timepiece (£25,000 to £35,000) from 2002 is the sale’s newest model and incorporates a chronograph, perpetual calendar and moon phase.
But this auction is not only about timepieces: bidders can also snare two exclusive “behind-the-scenes” trips to Vacheron Constantin, hosted by style and heritage director Christian Selmoni. Over the course of one or two days, the winners will be taken on workshop tours, visit the métier d’art and restoration departments and will be given the opportunity to delve into its archives. In addition to accommodation at a five-star Geneva hotel and a series of private lunches and dinners, they will also gain entry into Vacheron Constantin’s collector’s club.