by Jola Chudy
Vacheron Constantin’s Style and Heritage Director has watchmaking in his blood. Born to a Swiss family of watchmakers in the Vallée de Joux, a historical centre of watchmaking, he has been with the maison for an impressively long stretch – almost 30 years. From starting in sales administration in 1990, he rose through the ranks, being appointed artistic director in 2010. In his latest role, which he has held since 2017, he focuses on enriching and maintaining the heritage of the world’s oldest watch brand. Ahead of SIHH, Revolution’s Editor-in-Chief, Jola Chudy, caught up with Mr Selmoni in Dubai to get a glimpse of the highlights coming up as part of its 2018 novelties and to find out just what makes this dyed-in-the-wood horology trailblazer tick.
When you were in Dubai recently, you exclusively previewed a special collection ahead of SIHH, one that puts a very precious material centre-stage…
That was the Traditionelle, a very important collection for us. As the name suggests, it’s the more conservative line at Vacheron Constantin. At SIHH we launched two new Traditionnelle lines: the Traditionelle Complete Calendar – a very popular model – and Traditionnelle Tourbillon. Both models are presented in rose gold, as well as in a Collection Excellence Platine, which as the name suggests, is a platinum edition. The Complete Calender is available in 100 platinum pieces, while the tourbillon in just 25. It celebrates platinum as the most noble and precious material in watchmaking. Not only the case, but the buckle and crown are in platinum. And, perhaps most importantly, the dial is made of sunblasted, untreated, pure platinum.
Vacheron Constantin’s spirit of travel gets another update thanks to your Overseas collection. What can collectors look out for in 2018 from this collection?
In addition to the Traditionelle, we are also launching watches in the Overseas collection. Overseas is our sportier, casual-elegant collection and is a collection that we totally revamped in 2016. Within it we already have several levels of models, from the straightforward to the extremely complicated. We have a chronograph, a perpetual calendar and a world time. We are now showcasing a new complication, the dual time or GMT (depending how you want to name it!). It’s a very practical and useful complication for those who travel between time zones. The Overseas is a line associated with the notion of travelling and it is a typical traveller’s watch. You can set your home time very easily by the main crown and the local time using the same crown but with another position. In addition the watches feature an am/pm indicator which is linked to the home time and finally a date indicator which is linked to the local time. It is very easy and practical to use and comes in two versions: steel with our emblematic blue dial or a silver dial, and a rose gold version with silver dial.
Les Aerostiers celebrates early aviation.
Vacheron Constantin is the oldest continually functioning watch brand in the world; is it part of your ongoing strategy to look to its past for inspiration?
We have an unmatched 263 years of non-stop activity at Vacheron Constantin. As a consequence we have a great archive of material on which to draw on, such as documents, watches, sketches, photographs from the past. In every new product we design, we extract some elements from this heritage, which maintains that precious link between the past and present.
Although the brand is well-known, it is far from being a ‘mass’ brand. What are your thoughts about the future growth of the brand? Is it part of the brand’s strategy to produce more watches?
When we speak about Vacheron Constantin we are talking about very high-end watchmaking. In that same breath we speak about exclusivity. Vacheron Constantin produces around 20,000 watches a year, which makes us almost a niche brand in the high-end segment. There is room to grow a little, certainly, but not, for example up to 50,000 watches. The reason for this strategy is that we absolutely want to maintain that exclusivity. We want to be able to continue to showcase our craftsmanship because we think one thing is very important: we need the intelligence of the hand, that level of production, and that is something we will always pay very close attention to.
What’s it like working at the world’s oldest watch company?
I come from a family of watchmakers in the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland, and I joined the company nearly 28 years ago… so it’s something I think that I have in my blood. I think the brand is interesting as a company. Not only does it have an extremely long heritage but I can also see a great deal of diversity in the products of this maison. It’s an endless discovery of treasures from the past. I really appreciate diving into this history to extract elements that help the designer to create contemporary models. I think it’s inspiring and I don’t think I have ever woken up and thought ‹Oh gosh another day at work.’ For me it’s a hobby. I do a job that I adore.