Story Behind the Vacheron Constantin Cross

Vacheron Constantin Maltese Cross

Image from monochrome.nl.

Ever since it’s founding in 1755, Vacheron Constantin has never failed to create beautiful and innovative luxury watches. Vacheron Constantin can boast that their employee, inventor Geroges-auguste Leschot, was the first to convert watch movements into calibers and to create the pantographic device. Vacheron Constantin also created the first ever nonmagnetic timepiece in 1862. In 1877, the company changed its name to “Vacheron & Constantin, Fabricants, Geneve” and adopted the Maltese cross as the company’s official logo.

One question that often comes up in watch discussions regarding Vacheron Constantin is the origin of the Vacheron Constantin logo. The Maltese Cross, also known as the Amalfi Cross, was created by the crusaders known as the Knights of Malta. The design of this cross is based on the crosses that have been used since the First Crusade. The first evidence of the Maltese Cross comes from copper coins for the Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Vallette, who was the Grand Master of Malta from 1557-1568. Vacheron Constantin chose this symbol because it represents the shape of the component that fixed to the barrel of its movement, which reduces the amount of wheels necessary for winding.

Maltese Cross

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  • It was stated that the cross was officially used around 1880. I have yet to update my article above as the usage of the maltese cross was first made in 1790, not using the LOGO, but in form of a clock. A maltese cross clock signed by J.M.vacheron. also, the matese cross is said to be used because of the geneva stopwork component in all its earlier mechanism. Wherein fact the geneva stopwork is originally a 5 sided star.

  • Hi to all Vacheron Constantin fans!

    Being a huge fan of VC, my spiritual curiosity was motivated to make some research on the presumption on how, why & what are the reasons the “Maltese Cross” was used as an insignia other than was claimed to be which is a relevant Geneva stopwork watch component (among all the many parts that can be used) & that there might be some fascinating story behind it clouded in mystery.

    I completely love the design of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas especially where you could see the Cross indices logo pop against the dial & with parts of the cross displayed elegantly on the fixed bezel, bracelet links & folding clasp. It almost feels like wearing a Christian jewelry, with the benefits of an accurate time keeping.

    First off, the cross was said to be officially used in 1877. However, if we consider it factual on what was written on the “Secrets of Vacheron Constantin” (by Dominique Flechon & Franco Cologni), that as early as 1790, the Maltese Cross was used in one of his clocks, then it narrows our focus to only Jean-Marc Vacheron as the sole originator for using the cross as his “unofficial logo.”

    Note: F.Constantin, partner of Jacques-Bertheley, grandson of Jean-Marc only came in at 1819. Nor did Georges-Auguste Leschot, another partner of VC who came into the picture in 1833.

    History first:

    If we were to analyze how Geneva came to be a watch capital, then we go back 200yrs before VC’s birth.

    1500’s started the revolt of the people against the Iron hands of the Catholic Pope. Bibles were still written in Latin where only higher secs of the church can understand thus altering laws to their hearts desire. The Church was considered back then higher than the King & that “it is” Government.

    Influencers:

    Now comes Martin Luther (1483-1546) A brave philosophical german priest who defied Catholicism, escaped prosecution & death thus creating Lutheran followers by translating the bible in german for the masses to understand. (Reformers, Reformed Catholics or… Lutherans / Protestants).

    These reformers / rebels (Frenchmen, Germans, Itallians) were all exiled from their homelands & settled in Geneva.

    Another reformer by the name of John Calvin (Calvinism)(1509-1564) also drew a following in europe who were also exiled in their homelands & inhabited Geneva.

    J.Calvin,a frenchman was more of a dismal spiritual leader who instilled to the people that Salvation is predestined by God.

    & so it forced & became innate for the Swiss craftsmen (jewelers & watchmakers or Cabinotiers) to perfect their craft just to be qualified for Salvation. Which also resulted in a rather positive image for the Swiss later on.

    Maltese cross:

    If 1500s-1800s marks the Reformation era among the Reformed/Protestant Christians being the more dominant population in Geneva, then there is a higher chance that the Vacheron family (1700s) may very well be protestant by religion.

    Marketing Alibi:

    It’s fun to think that using the “stopwork component” may be a marketing ploy since the origin of the Maltese Cross is from “The Order of St. John” (a branch of the Knights Hospitaller) which is of German Protestant origin.

    Why was the Maltese Cross only used officially in 1877?

    It’s probable that during the Reformation Era, using a Protestant symbol might get him or his products in trouble with an imposing marketing perception, or it might affect sales since its goal was to sell around the globe, selling to kings/queens, emperors in different cultural background & religions.

    Jean-Marc was a highly skilled watchmaker at 24yo, was one of the youngest to be accepted by the “Geneva Guild of Watchmaking”, making him a rather fine exquisite gentleman so building his brand may not just involve perfection in its mechanism & design details but also how he might protect it.

    Hope you have enjoyed these facts along with some of my hypothesis and bridging gaps in history & probability. More theories to come.

    • Hi,
      Can you tellmewhen didthefirst timethat the cross appeared on vc watches?

      • From what we can tell it looks like around 1877 when the company adopted their new name.

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