The Maison Van Cleef & Arpels has created new stories from its hallmark sources of inspiration to celebrate its return to the Watches & Wonders show in 2022, displaying its distinctive Poetry of Time. This vision of watchmaking, imbued with fantasy and emotion, is brought to life through the exhibition display, providing an immersive journey from the heart of Enchanting Nature to the heavenly vault.
With three exceptional pieces that blend watchmaking knowledge and jewellery savoir-faire, Van Cleef & Arpels continues its history of automata. Poetic Astronomy, an invitation to live in time with the cosmos, has a virtuoso automaton performing the ballet of the planets, while two other objects reflect the life of nature with extraordinary elegance.
Two new timepieces in the Van Cleef & Arpels Poetic Complications collection have arrived in the garden of Van Cleef & Arpels. Flowers grab the secret of time behind exquisite petals on their dials, their corollas blooming all day.
A dream of opera continues this voyage into the Maison’s imagination, while the art of dance infuses new elegance into one of its trademark creations: the Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée watch. Time passes in a tranquil manner, revealing a world of wonder and harmony.
The watchmaking items of the Maison elegantly and ingeniously accompany the passage of time. The mysterious clocks of the 1920s, followed by more contemporary counterparts in the 1990s, depict a menagerie inspired by far horizons: monkeys carved in deep amethyst, pandas in contrasting decorative stones, and bears paved in diamonds. Paperweights incrusted with watch faces and wrapped by braided threads of yellow gold became popular in the 1970s, thanks to a trend for rough minerals and organic materials like wood.
From office and decorative ware to beauty or smoking accessories, the techniques and stones used for Van Cleef & Arpels’ objects bear witness to the customs of their time and the Maison’s savoir-faire. Remarkable for their associations of materials, each piece is the theater for a dialogue, at the crossroads of jewelry, watchmaking, and traditional craft skills.
The wonders of watchmaking are brought to life with the Poetic Complications line. To bring a tale to life on the dial, combine rich materials and traditional savoir-faire. Innovation is inextricably linked to inquiry and wonder in every creation. A stroll through a flower garden or the motions of a ballerina can be used to measure time thanks to the retrograde movement, flower opening module, and minute window. Beyond their mechanical prowess, these virtuoso mechanisms create priceless emotional moments, showcasing Van Cleef & Arpels’ inventiveness.
Lady Arpels Heures Florales and Lady Arpels Heures Florales Cerisier
“When we work on watchmaking projects, our goal is to use mechanisms to capture the
poetry of the passage of time. And what could be more poetic than measuring time with
the opening and closing of flowers?” says Nicolas Bos, President and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels.
The Maison has taken inspiration from Carl Von Linné’s flower clock concept (Horologium Florae), which he devised in his 1751 book Philosophia Botanica, to pay tribute to the natural world that has attracted it since 1906. In it, the Swedish botanist conjures up a hypothetical garden layout comprised of a wide range of plants, each of which blossoms opens and closes at different times of the day to indicate the passing of time.
The Lady Arpels Heures Florales and Lady Arpels Heures Florales Cerisier watches by Van Cleef & Arpels are two new creations based on this principle. The opening and closing of 12 corollas on their three-dimensional dial create a lyrical depiction of the passage of time. Telling the time becomes a spectacle, as the flowers blossom and close, renewing the dial’s scenery every 60 minutes.
The excellence of watchmaking savoir-faire
Up to 166 parts are set in action to bring the dial to life, thanks to a module created solely by the Maison’s Watchmaking Workshops in Geneva. Each of the petals in this garden is articulated and connected to the watch’s mechanism, necessitating a complex installation. The technological complexity of merging so many parts is augmented by the need to ensure three separate flower opening phases.
The open blooms close with each passing hour, making place for a new combination. The order in which the bouquets follow one another from hour to hour will be different the next day. As it searches for the length of time between buds and corollas, the eye is amused by new surprises. A minute display viewable in a window on the side of the casing completes the time display.
The poetry of craft skills
The Lady Arpels Heures Florales and Lady Arpels Heures Florales Cerisier watches present a true bejeweled garden inside a 38mm case, in white and rose gold respectively. The first watch evokes summer in gentle blue and green shades, with leaves and flowers offering a delicate contrast with the background in white mother-of-pearl. The second timepiece revisits the
same design in a springlike tableau. Ethereal blue butterflies – emblematic of Van Cleef & Arpels – flutter between the pink and red corollas, accentuating the dial’s relief effects.
On each dial, no fewer than 226 elements are magnified by the craft skills brought together at the Watchmaking Workshops in Geneva. Petals and butterflies in miniature painting, branches in sculpted gold and clouds in sculpted mother-of-pearl are enhanced by stone setting of extreme finesse, with white and yellow diamonds sparkling alongside one another. The gold back of the case is engraved to echo the dial, while the movement’s oscillating weight – in guilloché gold and miniature painting – is visible beneath a sapphire glass, itself engraved and enameled with a winged creature, in turn a dragonfly or a butterfly. Time thus flows to the rhythm of nature in the garden of Van Cleef & Arpels.
Lady Arpels Ballerines Enchantées
Born in 2013 and winner of the Lady’s Complication Prize at the Grand Prix de l’Horlogerie de Genève the same year, the Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée watch has become one of the Maison’s emblematic watchmaking creations, reflecting one of its major sources of inspiration: dance. This year, Van Cleef & Arpels reinvents it in two new pieces suffused with grace and modernity, one in white and the other in rose gold. The dancer’s graceful silhouette has been revisited, with her posture taking on a slender and dynamic attitude, while the flounces of
her tutu unfurl in new materials and colors. When the feminine figure comes to life as if in a dream, different craft skills come together to instill the scene with fluid movement, lightness and refinement.
The Maison once again accentuates its poetic vision of time with a double retrograde time-on-demand movement. On watches with a retrograde movement, the hands trace a half-circle before returning to their initial position, ready to begin a new cycle.
Here, when the user presses the button located at 8 o’clock, the ballerina’s tutu comes to life. The petticoat showing the hours rises first, followed by the other one which takes up its position on the minute scale. They remain in place for a few seconds, enabling the time to be told, then return simultaneously to their starting points. Their fluid motion is one of this complication’s technical feats: the ballerina appears to move her wings slowly and gracefully.
Well we don’t know about you, but we surely are enchanted with this new collection- too magical… too dreamy!