Thread: Antique (1850's?) Key Wind Pocket Watch marked Vacheron

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  1. #1
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    Antique (1850's?) Key Wind Pocket Watch marked Vacheron

    I have an old key wind pocket watch given to me by my grandmother some 60 years ago. She told me it was handed down from her great-grandfather which would place it in the 1840's - 50's. When I open the back of the watch case, the back of the watch is brass colored and has the following words imprinted (starting at the top): Cylinder, Escapement, Four Holes Jeweled, hands, Vacheron, Geneva. There are two key stems...one to wind the watch and one to set the hands. At the bottom, below the word Geneva, the watch is numbered 30527. That same number is imprinted on the back of the silver colored case. There are no other marks on the back of the silver colored case except the letters VF. When I open up the brass colored back of the watch, the number 30527 is also imprinted on the back of the brass cover. I can find no other markings on the movement. The dial face numbers are roman numerals. The case is silvered colored. The dial face has a flower/vine scroll design in the center. The back of the case has a landscape scene with buildings and a man in a boat casting a fishing net. I have the key and the watch runs...including the small inset second hand. I have "Googled" the watch, and have learned that it was not made by Vacheron because the name Constatin does not appear and the writing is in English. Can someone tell from the photos if the watch is actually from before the Civil War? The inside of the silver colored case cover has the letters VF imprinted above the numbers 30527, which are imprinted near the bottom of the cover. Does that represent some sort of silver alloy/composition? The inside of the brass colored cover also has the number 30527 imprinted near the bottom and there is a letter "C" imprinted just to the right of the hinge. The hour and minute hands are very thin with pointed ends and are copper colored . Could Vacheron/Constatin produced inexpensive watch movements in the 1840’s with English inscriptions and just the Vacheron name, that they sold to American/British watch makers who then put on their own hands and dials and put the movements into their own cases or was this watch made by some other watch maker that just "used" the Vacheron name because of its prestige? Can you tell from the movement if the watch was made in Europe, Britain of the US? Any information would be greatly appreciated.?

  2. #2
    Member radger's Avatar
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    Re: Antique (1850's?) Key Wind Pocket Watch marked Vacheron

    These would be hard to date accurately but with that type of click on the mainspring barrel, the case and pendant
    style then I'd agree that it is probably C1850.
    The watch is entirely Swiss made but I don't think it has anything to do with V&C.

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    Re: Antique (1850's?) Key Wind Pocket Watch marked Vacheron

    Thank you for your response. A little background about myself...I know nothing about watch cases or watch movements....I'm 70 years old and just trying to pin down some family provenance on this watch to pass on to my children. Do you have any thoughts what the "VF" mark is on the inside of the case back cover or the "C" on the inside of the movement cover.....do they represent some sort of metal or alloy composition? If the movement is Swiss made, and the words are in English, then was it made specifically for the American or British market? Is there a way to search deeper into the watch movement to look for markings, or should any markings be visible upon opening the movement cover? Does the fact that the same serial number appears on both the case and two places on the watch movement have any significance? My Google search revealed that only having 4 jewels means a pretty low end movement...or were 4 jewels common for that time period? Finally, does the decoration on the dial or the scene on the back have any significance?

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    Member Tick Talk's Avatar
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    Re: Antique (1850's?) Key Wind Pocket Watch marked Vacheron

    Sorry to confirm what you may already have surmised, but your watch is a fiction. Next to Breguet, V&C were probably the most frequently faked watches of the 19th century. You will therefore see many circa 1830 to 1890 timepieces spuriously marked "Vacheron à Genève" or "Vacheron Frères". This problem so annoyed the Manufacture that in 1850, when two letters were received at the factory addressed to "Vacheron Frères à Genève", a sharp response was penned;

    There is no maker of horology by the name of Vacheron Frères. There are many watches with this name, but they are imitations of secondary quality. There are a great many people who, not wishing to give themselves the trouble of making a name, find it useful to use that of another. You may affirm without fear that it is a false name.


    The only legitimate examples are dated between 1755 and 1785 when one of the three Vacheron brothers then making watches in Geneva used "J.M. Vacheron à Genève". Only a couple are known to exist! Beginning in 1819, all pieces were signed with the familiar "Vacheron & Constantin".
    Tick Talk says, "A watch in the hand is worth two on the wrist"

  5. #5
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Antique (1850's?) Key Wind Pocket Watch marked Vacheron

    Technically, "Vacheron" is a family name, and thus is fair game for use by anyone who's last name is "Vacheron". This is one the reasons why many makers choose to start using more unique names (like, say, Omega or Rolex) instead of names that are harder to protect. The Elgin Watch Company had a similar problem with the Elgin Watch Case Company; proper names are a branding nightmare.
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

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    Member Tick Talk's Avatar
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    Re: Antique (1850's?) Key Wind Pocket Watch marked Vacheron

    Quote Originally Posted by AbslomRob View Post
    Technically, "Vacheron" is a family name, and thus is fair game for use by anyone who's last name is "Vacheron".
    Are you suggesting that thousands of spurious 3rd-rate "Vacheron" watches were crafted by someone else with that name living in Geneva? Ahhh, no...
    Geneva had the world's first watchmaker's guild and there was a form of trade name protection in place since the 17th century. Also, someone would likely burn your house down
    Tick Talk says, "A watch in the hand is worth two on the wrist"

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