Vacheron Constantin SA is a Swiss luxury watch and clock manufacturer founded in 1755. Regarded as the oldest Swiss manufacturer and one of the oldest watchmakers in the world with more than 260 years of uninterrupted watchmaking history since its foundation.
The company was founded by Jean-Marc Vacheron, an independent watchmaker in Geneva, Switzerland. He and his company would create the first horological complication in 1770, and nine years later would design the first engine-turned dials. His son, Abraham Vacheron, took over the family business in 1785, and in 1810, Jacques-Barthélemy Vacheron, his grandson, became the head of the company.
Under Jacques-Barthélemy leadership, the company initiated its exports to France and Italy. Consequently, in 1819, he would partner with François Constantin and the company would continue its activities under the new name Vacheron & Constantin.
In 1833, Vacheron & Constantin hired Georges-Auguste Leschot, who will invent the mass production of high-quality watch parts and the first person to standardize watch movements into calibers. These inventions brought the company success and had a significant impact on the watchmaking industry in general. For this achievement, he was awarded a gold medal from the Arts Society of Geneva in 1884.
Already a highly regarded watch manufacturer, the company was renamed Vacheron & Constantin, Fabricants, Geneve in 1877, and by 1880, the company started using the Maltese cross as its symbol - inspired by a component of the barrel, that had a cross-shape and was used for limiting the tension within the mainspring. Vacheron & Constantin was awarded a gold medal at the Swiss National Exhibition in Geneva in 1887 and would later receive the first Geneva Seal (Hallmark of Geneva) for its timepieces.
Vacheron & Constantin found themselves in a difficult situation during the Great Depression and in 1940 the previously family-owned venture was acquired by Georges Ketterer. In 1970, the company officially changed its name to Vacheron Constantin. It would change hands a few more times before it was bought by the Swiss Richemont Group in 1996.
Even with the early successes, the company continued to push the envelope in watch manufacturing, achieving notable feats such as the creation of the "Grande Complication" pocket watch, No. 402833, for King Fuad I of Egypt in 1929, producing the world's thinnest manual-winding movement, the Calibre 1003 in 1955, and creating the world's thinnest minute repeater the Calibre 1755 in 1992. Recently in 2015, Vacheron & Constantin created Reference 57260, the most complicated mechanical watch ever made, with 57 complications.
Currently, the company is an active member of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH and produces about 20,000 timepieces per year.