Interview with Christian Selmoni, Style and Heritage Director at Vacheron Constantin

By Jessica Diamond
On the eve of the first ever online sale of vintage timepieces from Vacheron Constantin’s heritage collection , we sat down with Christian Selmoni — Style and Heritage Director for the world’s oldest watch manufacturer — to discuss what makes him tick.

Y ou have a family background in watchmaking; tell us about your earliest memories of this from your childhood.

Christian Selmoni: My grandfather was a specialist watchmaker, working at home on exclusive and particular watches, and I remember spending hours, when I was six or seven, looking at his tools and listening to his explanations about his work. My grandfather has been the main influencing person in my decision to go into the field of watchmaking.

Christian Selmoni. Image © Chris Floyd

What was the first watch that you owned?

For my 14th birthday I received a steel sports watch, with luminous hour markers and hands. I remember looking at my watch’s dial glowing in the dark every hour on the first night it was attached to my wrist.

Which Vacheron Constantin do you wear every day?
As I’m travelling so much, I wear the Overseas World Time. Indicating 37 different time zones around the world, it’s a very convenient watch. For special occasions it would be a beautiful chronograph from the Historiques collection, directly inspired by a Vacheron Constantin design from 1955.

If you could source and add any vintage Vacheron Constantin to the Maison’s collection, which timepiece would it be?

Between the 1930’s and the 1950’s we created exceptional, ultra-thin minute-repeater wristwatches. We have a few of them within our private collection. During this period we manufactured some of them with additional complications such as calendars. Such complicated striking wristwatches from our Maison are extremely rare, so it would represent a fantastic addition to our collection.

How do you track down vintage pieces?

Within our Heritage team we have two people- a watch specialist and an expert watchmaker – who are monitoring several sources, including auction houses, in order to trace vintage pieces and find rare or representative watches that we could include notably in our private collection.

How do you think Vacheron Constantin, the oldest watch manufacture in the world, remains relevant today?
We have been here for 263 years despite inevitable difficulties, thanks to continuous innovation and creativity both in design and technicality. We have been able to maintain our traditions and, on top of that, the authenticity of our watchmaking art. This is very unique.

Vacheron Constantin Manufacture Workshops

Why should a potential client buy a Vacheron Constantin, rather than any other renowned brand?

We’ve always made extremely renowned timepieces; our classic design is long-lasting and sometimes beyond fashion. Every day the Maison showcases its tradition of the most authentic fine watchmaking art.

Can you describe a typical day at Vacheron Constantin?

While in Geneva I spend most of my day with our Heritage team. We have many projects in order to valorize our heritage – stories from the past, researching old models, exploring designs and aesthetics that could be re-interpreted today and tomorrow…and of course looking for vintage Vacheron Constantin watches, both pocket and wrist, simple and complicated, that we are offering, fully restored. This offer of vintage Vacheron Constantin watches is Les Collectionneurs, and it’s getting stronger and stronger interest.

Reference 57260 watch, an exceptional creation combining a total of 57 complications, some of which are unique, including multiple calendars and a double retrograde split-seconds chronograph.

And how about a typical day off?

I would spend it planning my next private trip. I have lots on my wish list. The next one is a small island in the Yucatan, Mexico. It will be in a few months from now….

Have you ever gifted a Vacheron Constantin to someone?

Yes! A round, thin yellow gold wristwatch with leather strap; it was a gift to the mother of my children.

Which moment are you most proud of so far at Vacheron Constantin?

It was in 2014, when the three master watchmakers in charge of our Ref 57260 asked me to join their workshop in order to discover and to admire the movement of this awesome timepiece – with 57 complications it’s the world’s most complicated timepiece ever made. I remember I was absolutely speechless in front of such phenomenal work. The finishing was totally mind-blowing! It was a unique moment and a great privilege.

Vacheron Constantin: The Vintage Collection will be open for bidding exclusively online from 5 -15 October.

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