Favored by posh shoppers for its lounge-like environment and eclectic mix of jewelry, watches, and assorted objets, the New York luxury retailer Material Good will host Les Collectionneurs – a special assemblage of vintage Vacheron Constantin timepieces sourced from private collectors, auction houses, and, most impressively, the watchmaker’s own heritage department. [Update: The vintage timepieces are now at Vacheron Constantin’s Madison Avenue boutique.]
“It’s one thing to buy a vintage watch from an auction house or a broker,” says Rob Ronen, principal and cofounder of Material Good. “It’s another thing when you can have direct access to 13 pieces from a brand that is one of the original haute horlogerie watch houses.”
Because of its unusual and effective retail environment, the store has been inspected by a number of brands, each looking for clues on how to create a more sophisticated environment for clients. “When Vacheron Constantin came to the store and they saw it for the first time, they knew we had a built in vintage desire,” says Ronin. “We’ve also grown an amazing vintage collector client base, from all over the world.” As a part of the arrangement, a representative from Vacheron Constantin will remain with the collection, showing the most complex pieces to qualified clients.
While Vacheron Constantin has previously sold vintage watches through its boutiques, a sale that includes pieces from its archives is unprecedented. The timepieces themselves, which have been extensively refurbished, come from many different eras and range from the simple to the highly complicated. Given the significant recent increases in vintage-watch prices, Ronen considers these timepieces, which have not appreciated as dramatically, to be excellent long-term values.
Citing corporate policy, Vacheron Constantin would not comment on why it has decided to offer part of its heritage collection—normally a treasured asset—for sale. “I know Vacheron doesn’t want these to just sit in a museum,” speculates Ronen. “I think they obviously want them on their clients’ wrists.”