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Watches & Wonders 2022: Van Cleef & Arpels six new bejewelled masterpieces

The essence of poetry in motion is captured by the house of Van Cleef & Arpels with six bejewelled masterpieces of high artistry. 

To mark its return to Watches & Wonders in Geneva, the maison offers enchanting new stories from its emblematic sources of inspiration, reflecting its unique Poetry of Time philosophy. This vision of watchmaking, which is imbued with dreams and emotions, comes to life through the nature-inspired exhibition display and its six new artistic novelties.

Bewildering and bewitching, here are the highlights from Van Cleef & Arpels at Watches and Wonders 2022.

Poetic Complications

To pay tribute to nature that has fascinated it ever since 1906, the house has drawn inspiration from the floral clock concept (Horologium Florae), developed by Carl Von Linné, in his 1751 book Philosophia Botanica. In it, the Swedish botanist evokes a hypothetical garden plan made up of a broad variety of plants, whose flowers open and close at specific moments of the day to show the time. 

Van Cleef & Arpels has adopted this principle to bring two brand-new 38mm creations into fruition: the white gold Lady Arpels Heures Florales and the rose gold Lady Arpels Heures Florales Cerisier watches. Their three-dimensional dial offers a poetic rendition of the passage of time, thanks to the opening and closing of 12 corollas. Telling the time becomes a spectacle, as the flowers blossom and close, renewing the dial’s scenery every 60 minutes.

To bring the dial to life, up to 166 elements are set in motion by an automatic mechanical movement with a module entirely developed by the craftsmen of the maison’s watchmaking workshops in Geneva. With each passing hour, the open flowers close to make way for a new combination. The next day, the sequence of the bouquets that succeed one another from hour to hour will be different.

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 enamelled with a winged creature, in turn a dragonfly or a butterfly.

Lady Arpels Ballerines Enchantée

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 40mm pieces suffused with grace and modernity. The ballerina’s body is sculpted in relief in gold, while her headdress, face, bust and waist are adorned with diamonds. She is dressed in a first fixed corolla – in champlevé enamel, sapphires and diamonds for the Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée watch in white gold, and in plique-à-jour enamel for the Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée Rose Gold watch.

The maison once again accentuates its poetic vision of time with a double retrograde time-on-demand movement. 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.

Extraordinary Dials

Van Cleef & Arpels

Two new limited-edition models – designed as miniature works of art that combine several craft skills – join the Extraordinary Dials collection. This year, the art of engravers, lapidaries, stone setters and enamellers showcase the poetry of love, in representations of animal couples. Within a 33mm white gold case, these relief scenes come to life in striking plays of perspective. In the maison’s well-loved tradition of animal couples, the creatures duos gaze tenderly at each other.

On the foreground of the dial of the Lady Duo de Lions, the lions are intricately sculpted in relief from white and yellow gold. At their feet, a surface of diamonds and pink sapphires contrasts with a background of turquoise, onyx marquetry and diamonds. Depicted in mirror-polished and guilloché rose gold, the sun emerges from behind clouds of white mother-of-pearl with subtle iridescence. 

Van Cleef & Arpels
Lady Duo de Lions and Lady Duo de Lapins

The Lady Duo de Lapins features sculpted mother-of-pearl, which brings to life a pair of rabbits surrounded by a garden of emeralds, tsavorite garnets, pink sapphires and plique-à-jour enamelling. The sun is represented by guilloché and mirror-polished rose gold, and the cloud by lapis lazuli. On the back of the watch, an engraved scene revisits the graphic lines of the dial.

Other highlights from the Extraordinary Objects collection:

Fontaine aux Oiseaux Automaton

Van Cleef & Arpels

With on-demand animation and a retrograde hour display, the Fontaine aux Oiseaux automaton reveals a touching scene. Two birds awaken and begin a display of courtship: they sing as they move towards each other, while a water lily opens its petals in the basin, releasing a graceful dragonfly. The many challenges of this piece were met through a continuous process of research combined with the expertise of virtuoso craftsmen.

Rêveries de Berylline automaton

Van Cleef & Arpels

The Rêveries de Berylline automaton recreates a flower blooming to reveal a hummingbird taking flight to the sound of a sweet melody. This piece gives prominence to artistic crafts – stone cutting, polishing, ornamental stone carving, and lacquerwork, – as well as rare materials, such as red porphyry and lapis lazuli making up the base or precious stones adorning the bird. This Extraordinary Object™ gives rise to an enchanting scene, evoking nature’s eternal movement.

For more information, click here

This article is first published on Prestige Singapore

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