Coincidentally, at the same time the world was struck by COVID-19 and forced to close its borders, Christian Selmoni was reading the biography of Alexandre Yersin, an eminent bacteriologist and co-discoverer of the bubonic plague.
“He was a very adventurous guy,” Christian tells us over Zoom. And, by coincidence again, he owned a Vacheron Constantin chronometer: “I discovered in his notes that its accuracy helped him find his longitude in the jungle.”
Such a discovery is just one example of Christian’s ingrained belief that opportunities can be found anywhere.
“When there is a big crisis worldwide, there are always opportunities to catch,” he reflects on the current situation. “The digital version of Watches & Wonders has been great for us, because we could join our clubs, groups of collectors and have some fantastic discussions with them – things that we normally don’t do that much.”
While he acknowledges that the digital version of the launch misses the physical touch and feel experience (“In the future I think a mixture of the two would be pretty good,”) Christian remains eager to share the latest Vacheron Constantin novelties that include new female timepieces, rejuvenating the brand’s feminine focus that stretches back nearly 200 years: “We discovered that we made striking watches for ladies in the early decades of the 19th century,” Christian notes. “So in 1827, 1840, we were doing super complicated timepieces for ladies. We are coming back to this.”
With this in mind, 2020 sees the very first Vacheron Constantin self-winding tourbillon in a lady’s watch, the Traditionelle Tourbillon, which combines a 39mm case with the ultra-thin in-house 2160 calibre. “Thanks to the use of a very compact movement, we could create a beautiful timepiece with very good proportions – ideal for ladies,” Christian says. These 2020 Traditionelle versions come in either a diamond-set pink-gold case or in a whitegold jewellery model paved with 6.59 carats of diamonds.
The bejewelled theme continues in the 2020 Égérie models, a collection dedicated solely to women as an ode to the union between Haute Horlogerie and Haute Couture. “We have a fabulous jewellery version of Égérie,” Christian explains, holding up a dazzling, fully diamond-encrusted timepiece to the screen. “As is the case with the Traditionelle ladies tourbillon, here we have a fully paved diamond setting of nearly 12 carats in white gold. The Égérie Moon Phase is a complicated model and you can see the clouds made of sapphire crystal, which have been etched by laser to create this semitransparency. It’s a superb addition.”
Such technical feats are fully appreciated by Vacheron Constantin’s female collectors and Christian is keen to grow their offering of complicated watches for women. “The Traditionelle ladies tourbillon was very meaningful for us, a really strong addition after the Égérie,” he says. “Last week I was discussing this with my colleague. I had the Tourbillon for ladies in my hand and I was saying ‘wow, this could be a great man’s watch if we simply removed the diamonds’. We are breaking the frontier between men’s and women’s watches.”
Such optimism runs through Vacheron Constantin’s very core, and Christian adamantly focuses on the positives despite the worldwide situation. “We are still very much in this pandemic and have friends who are in difficult circumstances. But we are a brand rooted in the 18th century which has seen many difficulties, and I think our best asset is to remain authentic and faithful to our words,” he explains.
As we venture into this new future, it certainly seems like a Vacheron Constantin timepiece would be a most upbeat companion.
All images courtesy of Vacheron Constantin
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