When you spend real money on a wristwatch, you want to believe that before you buy it, it goes through some centuries-old finishing techniques at the hand of the Vallée de Joux’s finest craftsmen.  Nine times out of ten, it won’t.  But, if you happen to be purchasing a piece of haute horology from Vacheron Constantin, it just might. Today we take a look at the age old technique of chamfering (also known as beveling) where some of Vacheron’s most skilled craftsmen smooth and shape components using metal, rock, and wood. Seriously.  Most ownerswill never see the result of this process, but it is finishing like this that separates a truly fine timepiece from the rest of the world of watches.  

The Scene

Inside Vacheron Constantin’s Le Sentier factory, you’ll see a very small group of finishers who, depending on the technique in which they specialize, receive up to 18 months of in-house training on his or her respective field.  The practice of chamfering, or beveling, falls under the category of anglage and is one of the most complicated finishings applied to a mechanical watch movement.  Those who practice it must be extremely dexterous.  It is the chamfer that, along with the other few stages of hand finishing, can comprise 1/3 the cost of a haute horology Vacheron timepiece.  But what is chamfering, anyway?