In Conversation With: Christian Selmoni

In Conversation With: Christian Selmoni, Style And Heritage Director at Vacheron Constantin On Vintage Watches, Retrogrades, And More At Watches And Wonders 2023

THM Desk
19 Apr 2023 |
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There were a lot of new things to try, and a lot of high hopes, too. To keep up with the expanding global watch market, Watches and Wonders 2023 had ramped up its level of originality, openness, and resourcefulness.

And so did Vacheron Constantin. The first sports watch from the Maison to feature an in-built retrograde display and a timepiece that strikes a perfect balance between minimalist aesthetics and traditional watchmaking refinement. This is none other than Vacheron Constantin who left a happy smile on everyone’s faces at Watches And Wonders 2023.

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon

We caught up with Christian Selmoni, Style And Heritage Director at Vacheron Constantin to discuss the experience of the show, new collections, and more!

With 43,000 unique visitors at the show this year, the magnanimity of the event was top-notch. Talking about his experience at Watches And Wonders 2023, Christian said, “It’s been great so far. We’ve had great success with our novelties this year.”

Vacheron Constantin also did a surprise launch at the show - a Traditionnelle Tourbillon with a stunning green dial. Talking about this new novelty he said, “This is a timepiece from the Traditionnelle collection in platinum with an automatic tourbillon and 41mm diameter. The green color has been redeveloped to match the platinum case as it has hints of grey in it. It’s extremely elegant to wear!”

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon

Getting right to the new novelties, we saw several retrograde date timepieces. Sharing the heritage of the Maison and this complication, he said, “Retrograde function started at Vacheron Constantin in the 1920s. But, they were not pocket watches or wristwatches. They were more desk clocks in the pure style of Art Deco. The very wristwatch made by the Maison with a retrograde function was in 1940. However, that timepiece was developed and designed between 1936 and 1940. It’s a bespoke timepiece with a minute repeater and a 31-day retrograde calendar on the upper part of the dial. This bespoke timepiece is an ancestor of the novelties we are presenting today.”

The first wristwatch from the 1940s Ref 4293
The first wristwatch from the 1940s Ref 4293

We saw the re-edition of the Historiques 222 last year. Are vintage timepieces coming back as a strong trend? “Globally speaking, the trend for vintage even outside of watchmaking is extremely strong. Coming to watchmaking, there’s a great interest from clients and the public for vintage timepieces and we’ve seen this for several years. The volume of vintage watches available in the secondary market is crucial. You can even see the success at auctions of vintage watches which is booming. This is a great opportunity for us because we have a program of vintage watches that we are selling with a 2 years guarantee”, he further added.

Vacheron Constantin 222

Coming to auctions, we’ve seen a considerable drop in sales due to the emergence of the pre-owned market and brands supporting it too. Sharing his thoughts on the same he said, “It’s difficult to say if this had an influence on the last quarter of 2022. However, we know the value of vintage pieces keeps fluctuating. We are not facing a crisis situation, rather, it’s a correction of the timepieces that reached a great high during 2021 and 2022. The market is still very strong.”

Christian Selmoni has been a part of this industry for the past three decades. Defining who is a true collection he said, “There are two ways to define a collector. In reality, it’s very interesting to talk about the evolution of collecting watches. At the end of the 80s, collecting vintage watches was a very niche activity. It was a very small community where historic collectors would target one particular brand based on their taste or one specific complication. But, the awareness of watch collecting since the 2000s has put a spotlight on vintage watches and pre-owned watches. These days, there’s no particular description of a collector.”

Vacheron Constantin

Now, wouldn’t you want to know about Christian’s collection? He said, “My collection is small because I have the opportunity of working within the watchmaking industry. Due to this, we have plenty of opportunities to wear beautiful watches. When you’re in this industry, you are around passionate people. I have had a great passion for watches since my childhood.”

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony

Vacheron Constantin has been involved in the process of restoring watches. They made some spectacular rectangular timepieces during the 1950s. For most of the industry, the 50s were a decade of round, flat dress watches but the Maison created pieces where either the crystal was domed or even faceted.

Mechanics of a Vacheron

Which timepiece stood out for him at Watches And Wonders 2023? He said, “The Overseas Retrograde Date is an interesting timepiece because it’s a culmination of complications and quite unusual for a sport-elegant timepiece. We are excited to go for it because we feel these timepieces adapt well to the life we are living today.”

Watch the entire video here: