Interview: Christian Selmoni, Vacheron Constantin’s Style And Heritage DirectorWritten by Melissa Kong
“There are endless stories and thousands of products we can revisit.”
Having been at Vacheron Constantin for 28 years, Christian Selmoni is certainly well-placed to advise the brand on the design and development of its key products. In 2001, Selmoni was appointed product director, responsible for the design and development of the brand’s 250th anniversary products.
Nine years later, he was made artistic director of the brand, and last year, became its style and heritage director. Along with furthering Vacheron Constantin’s heritage and delving into its archives to influence future collections, Selmoni is also the face of the brand to international press and clients. Here, he offers us an insight into his new role and what he feels is the most exciting part about Vacheron Constantin’s heritage.
As style and heritage director, what sort of influence will you have on watch creation?
For me, I'm a member of the strategic committee for products, so I am still very much at the beginning of the process. Part of my job is really to investigate the heritage to find some interesting models, dials and hands, little elements from timepieces of the past, in order to repurpose them for a new creation.
Like the new FIFTYSIX collection?
Exactly. Our responsibility is to make a proposal saying “okay, we can take the reference 6073 from 1956 and make it the inspiration for the new collection.” I'm also active in other fields like movement development, as well as finding identity codes of Vacheron Constantin movements from the past and re-injecting these identity codes into future models.
Vacheron Constantin FiftySix Complete Calendar
How does the strategic committee work when it comes to coming up with new collections?
The design team is organised like a studio and this studio is driven by our CEO, Mr Louis Ferla. We are a group of a few people who are working with the designers, bringing new ideas and concepts and we are building the things together. It's very simple, really.
How do you go about looking through archives since you have so many years of history?
We have historians - people who are specialists, and we do surveys and research. As a result, we are able to trace down many things.
Has any reference or story stood out for you personally?
We have many stories. For example, the story of King Farouk of Egypt who came to visit the manufacture when he was 17 and became a big fan of complicated watches. He was such an aficionado that he ordered one of the most complicated Vacheron Constantin watches ever made—it was finished in 1935 and had more than 800 components in the movement. These kinds of stories are really great because these are stories of people and passion.
What's the most exciting part about Vacheron Constantin's heritage?
The heritage itself is the most important and fascinating part. I think that there are endless stories and thousands of products that we can revisit; it's just a matter of time. It's a huge work but we have enough material for decades, if not centuries, to showcase. It's very rich and I think very important for us to underline and showcase this heritage to sustain our legitimacy as a big name in the watchmaking industry.
Like most people these days, Melissa tells the time with her phone. She considers serious timepieces works of art and thinks the perpetual calendar is the handiest complication to date (pun not intended). She's also a Grammar Nazi but promises not to judge if you can't tell the difference between "guilloche" and "guillotine".