Elegant, sophisticated and classic – but with a twist.” Christian Selmoni is talking about the watches made by Vacheron Constantin, the oldest name in horology, but he could just as easily be describing himself.
The refined yet quietly flamboyant Swissman has been sprinkling a little of his stardust to a variety of departments at Vacheron Constantin for 30 years. After starting as head of purchasing, Christian quickly realised he wanted to open the door marked ‘Product Development’ next.
“I’m a very curious person,” he tells us. “The way I function as a human being is that, if I discover new music for example, I need to dive in and listen to it 3,000 times until I’m fed up of it. It’s the same with watches. I immersed myself in Vacheron Constantin and read everything about what they had done in the past. It became my bread and butter every day.” He chuckles, “It was pretty cool.”
After 15 successful years of designing and developing watches in the production department, Christian became Product Director. But his insatiable curiosity led to a conversation in 2017 with Vacheron Constantin’s CEO Louis Ferla that saw him take up his current role as Heritage and Style Director. For a passionate and knowledgeable man like Christian – whose grandfather was a watchmaker – it’s much more than a 9-to-5 job. “I feel I have a responsibility of being guardian of the temple,” he says proudly. “We are a benchmark for classic watchmaking.”
With slicked-back hair, an immaculately tailored suit and thick 1960s-style Michael Caine glasses, he looks like he could be the father of movie star Zachary Quinto. He’s talking to Harper’s Bazaar Arabia in Singapore as Vacheron Constantin unveil their latest Les Cabinotiers collection, La Musique Du Temps, an assortment of one- of-a-kind pieces created as a tribute to the musical arts.
Vacheron Constantin's Heritage and Style Director, Christian Selmoni
Sitting here in this Far Eastern city with its dizzying blend of old and new, it’s clear from Christian’s smile that his curiosity is being fuelled. “Travelling is the best part of my job, it’s where I really get ideas,” he grins.
When skipping around the globe, Christian is always on the lookout for skilled artisans working in arts and crafts. His conversations often provide inspiration for new watches, as do the souvenirs he brings back to show watchmakers in the Vacheron Constantin workshop in Plan-les-Ouates near Geneva, Switzerland.
My approach is that I’m like a recording machine,” he says. “You must open your mind and try to get ideas. If you get ideas, write them down quickly because they fade away if you don’t.”
Three of the exquisite timepieces unveiled as part of Les Cabinotiers, La Musique Du Temps collection in Singapore
Christian’s expertise has been requested by some excited Singapore watch aficionados who are eager to see the Les Cabinotiers collection. But before he goes, he recites lines from a poem by Michel Boutin, a French author currently on his reading list.
The light has been concentrated into the gold where I close the eyes
I see through my eyes my heritage asleep
I will slide into their dreams to bring them news and to enlighten the places where audacity is,” he says.
“Amazing! It gives you goosebumps. It’s so much of what I love.”
Elegant, sophisticated, classic – but with a twist: that’s Christian Selmoni to a tee.
From Harper's BAZAAR Arabia February 2020 Issue
Images courtesy of Vacheron Constantin