Way back in 1831, Jacques Barthélemy Vacheron wrote a letter stating his intention to expand business to the US. A year later, his luxury watch brand established its first agent in New York creating ripples in the American watch market. 180 years and 27 boutiques later, the world's oldest luxury watch manufacturer in continuous operation finally sets foot on American soil, in a true sense. Vacheron Constantin's first US boutique nestled amidst the luxury fashion and watch brands at Madison Avenue, New York City, is a landmark store no doubt.
Smartbuy steps in for an exclusive store review and soaks in the spirit of the brand's glorious history, new beginnings, latest creations and a slice of ancient watchmaking tradition.
Italian inspiration, elegant decor
The exclusivity of the boutique lies first in the very walls it is housed in. The building, built in 1908 by architect William E. Mowbray and is reminiscent of the Palazzo Strozzi, a 15th century Florentine palace. The classical Italian art expression extends itself to décor touches in the form of a stunning black and white Murano glass chandelier and even to the etching on special edition watches.
The beige and black colour theme is punctuated with the sparkle of diamonds and gleam of gold from the watch cases. Also as part of the décor are ancient watchmaking machines and snippets from the brand's history framed and displayed on the wall. The famous letter by Jacques Barthélemy Vacheron, also finds a pride of place on the boutique walls.
The boutique has two levels; one where guests can walk through the latest collection or sit and read a coffee table book while waiting for a peek at some exclusive pieces and the second level where an in-house watchmaker can help maintain your favourite Vacheron watch.
The highlight of the store is a special vault that is being designed for brand loyalists who want to keep their watch in safe hands.
Apart from its popular creations on display, the brand has crafted three boutique-exclusive pieces to commemorate the launch of its New York boutique.
Historiques American 1921: A take-off from the brand's model created in 1921 specifically for the American market, this cushion-shaped yellow gold watch is striking in its dandy case. The case-back is hand-engraved with the unique number of the watch as well as the inscription: “Madison and 64th”. It is teamed with a brown alligator ‘Mississippiensis' leather strap. Limited edition up to 64 pieces. $36,400.
Overseas Chronograph Perpetual Calendar: Limited to 20 pieces, the red, white and blue of the dial and strap pay tribute to American national colours. This sports watch boasts of a stainless steel case with dark blue, sunray satin-finished dial and dark blue ‘Mississippiensis' alligator leather. $67,000.
Patrimony Traditionnelle Calibre 2755: Housing a minute repeater, perpetual calendar and a tourbillon, this exclusive timepiece features a pink gold case, platinum-coloured dial and brown, hand-stitched, saddle finish ‘Mississippiensis' alligator strap with a pink gold folding clasp and polished half-Maltese cross. On the back, two engravings – “N˚1/1” and “Madison and 64th” indicate the exceptionally unique nature of this watch. The highlight is the hand-engraved frieze motif on the case that resembles the architectural design on the facade of the Madison Avenue boutique.
Limited edition single piece priced at $780,000.
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