Finely blending mechanical reveries with excellence in the realm of artistic crafts, the Parisian house continues to dot the watchmaking sky with shining examples of its constantly renewed creativity. One is naturally swept into the elegant universe of its Poetic Astronomy.
All eyes turn heavenwards with the stellar model heralding this new chapter: the Poetic Complication Midnight Planetarium. While at first glance less spectacular and playful than the ladies’ Poetic ComplicationsTM introduced in recent years, this men’s watch revisits a grand horological classic with the extraordinary jewellery expertise cultivated by Van Cleef & Arpels. As CEO Nicolas Bos points out, “the concept of Poetic ComplicationsTM is definitely expressed differently when intended for men or women. For men, the philosophy behind these projects is closer to that of classic horology and this model embodies a fine balance between watchmaking tradition and a narrative poetic dimension”. The Planetarium watch thus refuses to choose between scientific reason and emotions, instead taming the vastness of celestial expanses with undeniably lyrical elegance. The deep blue dial provides an elegant stage for the majestic dance of the pink gold sun and its gemstone planets: the Earth in turquoise, Jupiter in blue agate, Venus in chloromelanite, Mars in red jasper, Mercury in serpentine and Saturn in sugilite. Each moves in step with its real rotation time. To read off the time, one simply follows the path of the shooting star, a lucky-charm motif that is a particular favourite with Van Cleef & Arpels. In a subtle nod to poetry lovers, the owner’s lucky day can be inscribed within the star-studded universe of this watch beating to the cadence of a self-winding movement enhanced by a module developed by Christiaan van der Klaauw.
From inspiration to realisation
Van Cleef & Arpels unsurprisingly enriches the Extraordinary DialsTM collection with models illustrating the theme of Poetic Astronomy. The art of enamellers, engravers, lapidaries and miniaturist painters is once again illustrated in a sensitive way yet without ostentation. “Artistic crafts are deeply ingrained in the identity of Van Cleef & Arpels”, says Nicolas Bos. “We consistently seek a balance between style, design, sources of inspiration, techniques and gem-setting. Skills are always dedicated to narrating a story, to the watch itself and never merely to the idea of displaying impressive craftsmanship.” Once again, the exercise demonstrates all the talents of the in-house artisans who have lavished around 70 hours of work on creating certain dials. This is particularly true of the dials decorated using the grisaille enamel technique that reveals its infinite depth in two 22-piece limited editions of the Midnight Nuit Boréale and its counterpart Nuit Australe. The Midnight Constellations highlights in champlevé and vallonné enamel, mother-of-pearl, lapis lazuli and cornelian, interpreted through four models also issued in 22-piece limited editions.
Men in the spotlight
While it seems more discreet amid this flurry of dreamy watches, the Pierre Arpels Heure d’ici & Heure d’ailleurs is the special favourite of Nicolas Bos, who emphasises that “It is not part of this year’s theme, but instead comes in response to demand that we continue cultivating the masculine identity of the House in a spirit of elegance and discretion.” He concludes his comments on this model featuring double jumping hours and retrograde minutes functions by stating: “This new interpretation of the historical 1949 Pierre Arpels watch displays the naturally understated character of Van Cleef & Arpels watches that can be expressed in extremely restrained ways even on highly complicated models.”