Watches And Wonders 2024: Imparting Beauty And Poetry One Timepiece At A Time- Van Cleef & Arpels

THM Desk
9 Apr 2024 |
clock icon5 min read
like image
comment icon image
like image
SUMMARIZEarrow down

If there is one Maison that is an expert in weaving stories through the art of watchmaking, it is without a doubt, Van Cleef & Arpels. Intricate designs featuring elements of nature have been meticulously drawn all over the dial which are then coloured with the brightest of hues making each timepiece akin to a work of art. However, one must not be deluded into thinking that these creations are beautiful just on the outside. Within them lies a robust movement complete with watch complications that makes it a sophisticated piece of machinery. Launching a slew of timepieces at Watches And Wonders 2024, Van Cleef & Arpels has created poetic complications that are a treat to the eye. 

A Starry Night On Your Wrist
Awed by the spectacle of the stars, Van Cleef & Arpels reinvents the Lady Arpels Jour Nuit watch, introduced in 2008, with two new models in 33 mm and 38 mm that needed three years of development. The diamond-paved moon and stars perpetually pursue the sun, embellished with snow-set yellow sapphires, or alternatively guilloché yellow gold. Featuring a 24-hour rotating disc, the dial revolves almost imperceptibly. Thanks to the depth effect of the Murano aventurine glass, these pieces portray the immensity of the cosmos and the magic of a starry night. A veritable feat of technical design, the aventurine glass presents delicate openwork to hold the diamond-set white-gold stars.

Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Jour Nuit watch


Celebrating Summer’s Freshness 
In a bid to encapsulate the arrival of summer, the Lady Arpels Brise d’Été watch brings corollas into bloom within the Van Cleef & Arpels garden. White and yellow gold butterflies rendered in plique-à-jour enamel not only tell the time, but flutter off thanks to an on-demand animation module that also breathes life into the flowers and their stems. Created in vallonné enamel, the corollas display azure nuances complemented by spessartite garnet pistils. Against the intensity of a matte mother-of-pearl canvas the dial displays a poetic scene merging the foreground and background to illustrate precious greenery. The flowers, resplendent with their champlevé enamel leaves and surrounded by blades of grass in tsavorite garnets and plique-à-jour enamel, are supported by stems featuring sculptural miniature painting for a depth effect. This bucolic landscape offers a vision of the Poetry of Time in which the hours tick by in harmony with the eternal cycle of nature.

Lady Arpels Brise d’Été


Lady Arpels Jour Enchante Watch 
Van Cleef & Arpels has unveiled a stunning creation that brings to life a graceful feminine figure picking flowers under the early morning sun. The piece features a generous use of white gold, plique-à-jour enamel, and diamonds, creating a dazzling field of flowers aglow in vibrant colors. The blossoms are rendered in relief using a new technique developed by the Maison called façonné enamel, offering the illusion of a boundless flowerbed.

The feminine figure, meticulously hand-sculpted in white gold, spreads her wings made of sparkling, pearly-white plique-à-jour enamel, creating a luminous transparency effect. In the background, a sky exhibiting three shades of turquoise serves as a canvas for a radiant sun, adorned with precious stones such as spessartite garnets, colored sapphires, and diamonds. The sun's rays are secured using a lifted setting technique, creating the impression of stones suspended like dewdrops, with no visible attachment.

Lady Arpels Jour Enchante Watch 

The story continues on the back of the case, where an engraved decor illustrates the fairy taking flight. This intricate dial took two years of development and 180 hours of work to assemble, a testament to Van Cleef & Arpels' ingenuity and craftsmanship.

To achieve this level of detail and expression, the Maison developed several complex techniques in 2023, including façonné enamel, which took 16 months to perfect, and setting in enamel, which required 24 months of development.

Façonné Enamel Technique:
In this technique, enamel is gently poured onto a stainless-steel medium and then sculpted through whittling motions, sliver by sliver, to produce a three-dimensional form. After low-temperature firing to eliminate tensions in the material, the enamel is carefully glazed at high temperature, resulting in a smooth and luminous surface akin to polished material. The full process creates a striking visual effect of volume and transparency.

Setting in Enamel Technique:
This innovative technique involves setting precious stones within the plique-à-jour enamel without the use of any other metal components. To achieve this aesthetic feat, the stone is precisely positioned in an indentation carved in the enamel. The piece is then re-fired according to a highly precise temperature curve to seal the composition. This process generates a remarkable "floating" effect that accentuates the glow of the precious stones.

Lady Arpels Nuit Enchantee Watch 
Upon a moon-kissed flowerbed, a graceful fairy silhouette rests within a dazzling crystal cave. Rough sapphires with pink and purple hues, as if cut from the cave walls, create a sense of shelter and serenity. Embraced by a glimmering grisaille enamel sky adorned with the moon and stars, the white-gold fairy sparkles. Her wings, crafted in pearlescent glitter plique-à-jour enamel, exalt the embodiment of nature's beauty and power. Façonné enamel shapes the yellow sapphire-set flowers, while a rock crystal with rose gold hour markers showcases the meticulous sculpting of the ornamental stones. Exuberant details create a striking decor, and the magical story continues on the back of the case, expressed through varied volume-generating engraving and polishing techniques, depicting the fairy enthralled by the night sky's beauty.

The Lady Arpels Nuit Enchantée watch embodies Van Cleef & Arpels' tradition of excellence. Lapidary craftsmen meticulously select gemstones that meet stringent criteria, conforming to the piece's needs in shape and color. For this creation, the sapphires were expertly cut to sublimate the material, preserving the rugged aspect of the cave.

Lady Arpels Nuit Enchantée

On-demand Automaton Movement
All watch movement modules used for Poetic Complications timepieces are developed in-house by Van Cleef & Arpels’ Watchmaking Workshops in Geneva. Technical expertise goes hand in hand with creativity and a quest for enchantment. Automaton movements with on-demand animation or Day/Night display modules make it possible to capture the poetry in every moment.

This self-winding mechanical movement, featuring a 24-hour rotating disc module developed by Van Cleef & Arpels, gradually transforms the decor on the dial throughout the day. The Maison uses this system to breathe life into stories portraying the celestial ballet, like the sun/moon cycle in the Lady Arpels Jour Nuit and Lady Jour Nuit watches.