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Vacheron Constantin’s Style & Heritage Director Christian Selmoni on the art of watchmaking

A celebration of Métiers d'Art
With a family history in watchmaking, it was predestined that Christian Selmoni would follow suit. Now Vacheron Constantin's Style & Heritage Director, Selmoni is responsible for fusing the brand's heritage with modern-day watchmaking demands. Here, he speaks with Buro. Middle East contributor Farouk Chekoufi about its most outstanding designs...
Tell us a little about Vacheron Constantin’s history…

Founded in 1755, Vacheron Constantin is the oldest watchmaking Maison, with non-stop activity since then. Since the very early years, Vacheron Constantin has developed its mastery in all aspects of watchmaking art, horological complications and Métiers d’Art. 

In addition, our Maison is famous for sophisticated, elegant and timeless design. Today, Vacheron Constantin displays its watchmaking know-how and expertise through various collections, all representing a facet of this technical savoir-faire.

It is also important to highlight that Vacheron Constantin is dedicated to the creation and manufacturing of bespoke and one-of-a-kind timepieces through our Les Cabinotiers department. The purpose of this exclusive service is to fulfill our clients’ ultimate horological dreams. For instance, our Maison presented in 2015 the “Reference 57260” which is no less than the most complicated timepiece ever made in the field of watchmaking, with an outstanding 57 complications.

What are the expectations of Vacheron Constantin worldwide customers today?

Through its collections, Vacheron Constantin addresses connoisseurs and collectors worldwide. Our design expressions demonstrate our creativity and innovative spirit while remaining exclusive. Our clients are looking for a refined and elegant timepiece combined with impeccable technicality and finishing.

Tell us more about your Les Cabinotiers department?

Dedicated to bespoke and one-of-a-kind pieces creations, Les Cabinotiers represents a unique opportunity to unveil the very best of our craftsmen.

Engineers, designers, master watchmakers and artisans combine their imagination, their expertise and their passion in giving life to the embodiment of horological expertise and extreme refinement.

Why Les Cabinotiers is so important to Vacheron Constantin?

Les Cabinotiers represents what Vacheron Constantin stands for: the ultimate luxury in the finest watchmaking. This quest for excellence is part of the DNA of our maison since 1755.

The possibility to create exceptional timepieces — some of them bearing innovative displays and functions — offers new ways to express our Métiers d’Art. Les Cabinotiers offers a unique experience to our clients, thatis the possibility to create the watch of their dreams, according to their thoughts and desires.

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How do you combine tradition and modernity?

It is one of the main challenges faced by our designers and engineers! On one side, it is crucial to perpetuate our watchmaking traditions and our classic style. On the other side, our new designs have to adapt to today’s standards and clients’ expectations. This balance between tradition and modernity can be noticed in any new design.

What is the best-selling Vacheron Constantin line? Can you show us your top five iconic watches?

All our collections today are successful. I would say that the “Patrimony” and “Traditionnelle” lines are the most iconic in terms of classic and timeless style. “Overseas” is a strong sporty elegant collection dedicated to travellers. Finally, “Fiftysix” is a perfect example of Vacheron Constantin today: a cosmopolitan, retro-contemporary collection, launched last September and exceptionally well received. As for our top five watches, I would say:

  • Patrimony 40mm-manual winding: a pure expression of our style.
  • Overseas World Time: inspired by the spirit of travelling, it is a useful complication, in addition to being beautifully designed.
  • The Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942 and  Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 incorporate a “classic with a twist” design signature, typical of Vacheron Constantin designs from the past … and today.
  • My last design choice is a vintage Vacheron Constantin, the reference 4261: a fabulous minute-repeating wristwatch from the ’40s and ’50s, with an ultra-thin design flawless in terms of balance and elegance.

Can we call the Métiers d’Art collections haute couture watches?​​

In some aspects, we could indeed make the comparison! The Métiers d’Art collection represents a unique way to celebrate our traditional decorative crafts — gemsetting, enameling, “guillochage” and engraving. Our Métiers d’Art series represent a technical and aesthetic challenge for our craftsmen. They are literally re-inventing their crafts, showing that innovation remains at the centre of the creative aspects of such exceptional timepieces.

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