The luxury watch maker seeks to explain the grand complications of heritage and craftsmanship
“I’m wearing a 1992 tourbillon, that was our very first tourbillon wristwatch,” says Christian Selmoni, Vacheron Constantin’s director of Heritage & Style, slipping off the sleek platinum timepiece and offering it to us for a closer look.
The watch, a slender and exquisite Patrimony, is already striking peeking out of Selmoni’s red checked coat sleeves. Upon closer inspection, it reveals an elegantly domed crystal, a gradient dial, and curved indexes. The nattily-dressed watch expert proceeds to talk about it at length, describing the history, the grand complications behind the minimalist face.
“This timepiece is actually, unfortunately for me, part of the private collection of Vacheron Constantin. This is not mine!” he says with a small laugh. “This one is the very first that came out of production.”
He goes on to explain that he brought it specifically to celebrate the launch of TheAnatomy of Beauty, the exhibit running at the Singapore ArtScience Museum from October 16 to November 2. For him, the timepiece’s quiet beauty clearly represents the brand’s watchmaking tradition and vision.
Inside the newly reopened Vacheron Constantin boutique at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore’s sprawling ode to luxury shopping, Selmoni continues to trot out more watches. The executive’s own pink gold Historiques American 1921 is among them, with its exceptionally good-looking band in gradient dark brown leather that he customized.
“Can we try it on?” our group, made up of select media from the region, ask. After all, it’s not often one gets to have the chance to wear such a watch, however briefly. He obliges without hesitation. “A handmade product made by craftsmen—long lasting—is for me my favorite definition of luxury,” he says. And in the world of fine watchmaking, feeling a watch, seeing it up close, is an indulgent experience.
A Curated Experience
The Anatomy of Beauty is intended for both watch connoisseurs and those new to fine watchmaking. Collectors, fans, and newcomers alike can look forward to seeing a part of Vacheron Constantin’s private collection, which stretches past several centuries.
“This is to express the great care of Vacheron Constantin for any detail,” says Selmoni. “No matter if it’s outside or inside… and to showcase the quest for perfection of watchmaking for our watchmakers and artisans.”
Indeed this could be seen going through several of the exhibit’s timepieces on display. These include an 18K yellow gold split seconds chronograph pocket watch from 1939, the Tour de l’lle from 2005—considered one of the most complicated wristwatches in the world, and Vacheron Constantin’s new Metiers d’Art watch series.
Visitors can take in interactive displays that explain the brand’s five grand complications (tourbillon, split-seconds chronograph, retrograde, perpetual calendar and minute-repeater) and see the fine detail of the extraordinary artistry inside and on every watch (techniques of guilloché, enameling, miniature painting, gemsetting, lacquering, openworking). There’s even a virtual reality room where you can take apart a Vacheron Constantin watch on their own, and a mirrored room for that Instagram post or TikTok video if you were so inclined.
“The idea was to create an experience to mix this emotion of anatomy of beauty that we have in modern watches… we wanted also to express this notion of anatomy of beauty in heritage pieces coming from the private collection,” says Selmoni, noting that it’s a way for the brand to “showcase our consistency, our legacy, heritage, and the fact t that this quest for beauty overall, is something which is not a marketing creation but rather the reality.”
Vacheron Constantin: The Anatomy Of Beauty is at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore from October 16 – November 2, 2022. Get your tickets here.