Christian Selmoni, Style and Heritage Director Vacheron Constantin: “For me, a precious watch is a beautiful objet d’art”
Christian Selmoni may be described as the creative mastermind of Vacheron Constantin. Born to a Swiss family of watchmakers, he joined Vacheron Constantin since 1990. MISTERWATCH had the privilege for an exclusive interview.
Vacheron Constantin is a milestone for everything defined as Watches as it proudly carries on the fame of being the oldest watchmaking manufacture in uninterrupted activity for more than 260 years. Its prolonged success is built upon the talent of all artisans related to the brand during the centuries. And if it were to count the contemporary talents found under the Vacheron Constantin roof then for sure we reach Christian Salmoni. He has been connected to the brand since 1990 when he joined Vacheron Constantin as Sales Administration Manager. After gaining experience as Production and Purchasing Director he went to found a unique Product Department where we concentrated all the product-creation aspects of the fascinating brand.
In 2010, Christian Selmoni was appointed Artistic Director and since 2017 he is Style and Heritage Director. His mission? To shape the present and the future of Vacheron Constantin’s artistic identity making sure of a perfect balance between the history and the expectations of the young generations.
Please define a precious watch in your vision. History, materials, complication….
For me, a precious watch is a beautiful “objet d’art”, a work of art, handcrafted and manufactured with respect for watchmaking tradition, notably in the field of movement finishings. In addition, design is important and must reflect the philosophy and authenticity of the watchmaking movement. In Italy, we would speak about “bella figura”, meaning the care for every detail in order to create a harmonious impression.
The passion for watches. How much is education and how much is vocation?
I was fortunate to be born in a family of watchmakers. Both my grand-father and my grand-uncle were very skilled watchmakers and, in addition, they were both curious minds who had interests in astronomy, philosophy, mathematics and science in general. I remember listening to their discussions when I was a kid, and thanks to them I could early understand that watchmaking was not just simply reading time on a dial, but rather an open window to a much larger notion and interpretation of what could be “time” .
Where do you feel the strength of the brand: design, complications, tradition?
Indeed, I would point at first the consistency in designing and manufacturing high-end watchmaking with the greatest respect for craftsmanship, refined materials and of course including a vast know-how covering all aspects of watchmaking art. I think that one of Vacheron Constantin’s biggest strengths is its ability to combine elegance in design and sophistication in technicality, a very refined package.
The most challenging task when creating a new model considering Vacheron Constantin heritage?
This is the designers’ permanent challenge! We have the privilege of benefiting from an incredible heritage and legacy, and for this reason it makes full sense to inject or incorporate in every new creation that we present some elements coming from our past. Such elements can be of various origins: case shape, details of a dial, hands, finishings… The general idea is to link new creations with past ones, in the sense that we can perpetuate our traditions, design and style in an authentic way.
The philosophy behind the new Overseas Perpetual ultra-thin skeleton? Which elements did you take into consideration?
The design of the current Overseas generation is very successful: modern and classic at the same time, it is perfectly adapted to a large scope of watchmaking developments. We wanted to demonstrate our ability to combine watchmaking complications with the art of “skeletonizing”, which consists of hollowing out as much as possible the existing material of the movement, and so creating a metal architecture showcasing the complexity of the perpetual calendar, an emblematic complication present at Vacheron Constantin since the 19th century.
How do you create a Vacheron Constantin for the modern consumer, for the young generation?
There is today a very strong interest for Haute Horlogerie among modern watch lovers and young amateurs. Our purpose is not to adapt our design to attract a new – and maybe young – clientele but rather to invite watch lovers to discover the richness and complexity of our fine watchmaking art. We are expressing our values through different design expressions, namely Overseas for a modern, sporty, versatile package, or more classic lines such as Patrimony or Traditionnelle. And of course I’d like to mention Fiftysix which is particularly appealing thanks to its retro-contemporary design, and it state-of-the-art movements.
By Constantin Baches