Saturday, October 15, 2011

RARE COLLECTION ~ 14K SOLID GOLD LECOULTRE BY VACHERON CONSTATIN GENTS DRESS WATCH







Movement- LeCoultre, manual wind by Vacheron Constatin which clearly marked VXN on the movement
Caliber- K818/1CW
Case- Solid 14K Gold, 32.5mm (not including crown), 17mm between lugs, (engraved presentation watch by a company on back)
Dial- Champagne, signed LeCoultre (with logo), seconds subdial
Crown- Solid 14K Gold
PRICE: RM5.5K (NEGOTIABLE)

A BRIEF HISTORY OF LE COULTRE WATCHES

A brilliant inventor and self-taught watchmaker, Antoine-LeCoultre founded his first workshop in 1833, following the invention of a machine to produce watchmaking pinions. Ever since, the Manufacture Jaeger-Lecoultre has developed constantly around the founder's original workshops.

Surprisingly enough, it was neither a physicist nor an engineer who first measured the micron; it was Antoine LeCoultre, in 1844. He had created watch components that were so perfect no tool could actually detect their degree of inaccuracy. He followed that up by inventing the world's most accurate instrument: the Millionometer, which served as a benchmark for over half a century.

In 1847, LeCoultre created a revolutionary system that was to do away with the need for keys to rewind and set watches. His simple and brilliant solution was a pushbutton that activated a lever to switch from one function to another. It was the first keyless winding mechanism, and the first reliable system that eliminated the need for keys to wind or set a watch.

In 1866, when Swiss watchmaking was still structured around small home-run workshops, Antoine LeCoultre and his son Elie decided to bring together under one rood the many skills involved in making watches, and installed a steam-driven machine to operate their new tools. LeCoultre & Cie thus became the first Manufacture in the Vallée de Joux.

It was in 1903 when the Parisian Edmond Jaeger set Swiss watchmakers the challenge of producing ultra-thin calibres. It would lead to the Calibre 145, the world's thinnest mechanical movement, measuring no more than 1.38 mm, and the friendship of Antoine LeCoultre's grandson, Jacques-Devid LeCoultre. These two men would give a rise to a range of horological wonders, and eventually the birth of the Jaeger-LeCoultre brand in 1937.

In the year 1908, the Manufacture created its first rectangular-shaped calibre in response to the challenge created to miniaturize watches to wear on the wrist. By the "Roaring 20s" (1920s), very small ladies' wristwatches were all the rage, but extreme miniaturization always led to a loss of reliability and precision. The Duoplan brilliantly solved this problem by arranging its parts on split levels. It would lead to the world's smallest movement, Calibre 101. Outdoing the Calibre 145, Jaeger-Lecoultre miniaturized the Duoplan caliber to the extreme, weighing in at barely one gram and comprising of 74 parts. Its record is still unmatched to this date.

HISTORY OF VACHERON CONSTATIN (VC) AND JAEGER-LECOULTRE (JLC)

1938 after years of close cooperation, LeCoultre takes a partial ownership position, and a Jaeger-LeCoultre marketing alliance is formed.
Jaeger's Swiss sales organization were moved into the VC business address in Geneva

1940 George Ketterer, through SAPIC, takes a majority shares position in VC. Ketterer was Managing Director at SAPIC, which was the holding company for Le Coultre, Jaeger-Le Coultre, and a majority shareholder of VC; he was also a Manager in VC. There was a Ketterer in charge at VC - either George or his son Jacques - until 1987.

1940-1950's VC's operational role became etablisseur to LeCoultre's manufacture

1944 The caliber 2003 is announced - 1.64mm thinnest manual wind in history - by AP, and VC participates in a similar announcement.

1946 AP ships the finished Ultra Thin based on the cal. 2003 (AP company literature, No. 1, 2000)

1950's US importer was VC-Le Coultre, which was itself a division of Longines Wittnauer Watch Co

1955 VC 200 year bicentennial -
VC releases Ultra Thin announced in 1944 as a 200 year anniversary piece. Vacheron claim several advanced features not claimed by AP for the cal. 2003, including unique escapement and regulator innovations, which allowed for the elimination of shock protection and the elimination of adjustment normally required after cleaning and lubrication.
VC presented to Bulganin (Soviet Union), Eden (Great Britain), Eisenhower (USA), Faure (France)

1965 George Ketterer left Jaeger LeCoultre and went to head VC, thus separating the LeCoultre ownership connection

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