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A visit to Vacheron Constantin: Plan-les-Ouates | Page 3

The headquarter of Vacheron Constantin is located in Plan-les-Ouates at no. 10, Chemin du Tourbillon, an address which pays tribute to one of the Haute Horlogerie specialities in which the Geneva brand excels.

Close to the airport of Geneva, Plan-les-Ouates is a small municipality of the canton of Geneva where several other renowned brands, including Patek Philippe, Piaget and Rolex, have their production sites.

Building work began in December 2002 and were completed in 2004, allowing Vacheron Constantin to regroup its forces spread out between various sites around Geneva and bring administration and production together under one roof for a total of about 430 employees today. 

Designed by Swiss-born French architect Bernard Tschumi, the building of the Manufacture is impressive. The architecture concept is based on the idea of a metal envelope with large glass surfaces on the sides. The inner surface is clad in wood so creating warm interiors.




The atrium consists of an interplay of staircases, gangways and an elevator, all entirely in glass. The load-bearing structure is in raw concrete.


Set in 30,000 square-metre of parkland (1,500 trees were planted), the building features a car park with natural lighting. Above it, the horizontal part of the building hosts the workshops of the Manufacture.





Except for the production of the components which are made in Le Brassus, the Plan-les-Ouates site unites all the other elements involved in the watchmaking process: design studios, workshops responsible for adjusting mechanical movements, casing up, testing and after-sales service. 

The assembly, adjustment and casing-up of the movement as well as the finishing of movement, dial and case are performed here in Plan-les-Ouates so complying with one of the conditions for the Poinçon de Genève (Geneva quality hallmark) certification.



Auditors of the Hallmark of Geneva office regularly inspect the components and the cased-up watches at the company. The certification process also cover the water-resistance, the rate, the functions and the power-reserve of the watch.

Watches that qualify for the Hallmark of Geneva bear the official seal on the movement and on the case. If possible the hallmark must be engraved on the component that bears the serial number. Vacheron Constantin is the manufacturer that produces the largest number of timepieces stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva.


Our visit at the Plan-les-Ouates site terminated with the Métiers d'Art department, for sure one of the most fascinating. Master craftsmen create true art pieces using techniques like guilloché-ing, enameling, engraving, and gem-setting. 


Guilloché

Enamel

Engraving

Gem-setting

In the video below you can see an old guilloché machine, also known as engraving lathe or rose engine, that is still used today to create these precious decorations in the Manufacture timepieces.


Admiring these artists in action was a perfect way to complete our two-day visit to Vacheron Constantin. We learned a lot about watchmaking and understood that the secret of Vacheron Constantin's uninterrupted activity through four centuries (from 1755 till today) lies in the capability to innovate while perpetuating tradition through the sharing of the know-how of master watchmakers and artists with talented and motivated younger generations.


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Page 1: Geneva | Page 2: Le Brassus | Page 3: Plan-les-Ouates       

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Time and Watches | The watch blog: A visit to Vacheron Constantin: Plan-les-Ouates | Page 3
A visit to Vacheron Constantin: Plan-les-Ouates | Page 3
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