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Van Cleef & Arpels - One Year, One Watch

Van Cleef & Arpels One Year, One Watch

For GMT Publishing has created The Millennium Watch Book for the 20th anniversary of GMT Magazine, available for pre-order now. Read here an exclusive excerpt from the book.

On the occasion of GMT Magazine’s 20th anniversary (and WorldTempus’s upcoming 20th anniversary in 2021), we have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the last 20 years in watchmaking in The Millennium Watch Book, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. The Millennium Watch Book is available exclusively now for pre-order at a discounted rate on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and English, with delivery aimed just in time for the holiday season. 

In the coming weeks, WorldTempus will be exclusively sharing excerpts from the book, to give you a taste.

Only a few days left to get an additional 10% discount on the Millennium Watch Book. To obtain your code, fill in the information requested in the dedicated area to the left of the article.

Here’s is an exclusive excerpt from our section “One Year, One Watch”, where we pick one watch to symbolise each year from 2000-2020. For more information, visit www.the-watch-book.com.

One Year, One Watch: 2010


The thing that will be most remembered about this year is another novelty: in the USA, for the first time ever, women outnumbered men in the overall workforce. Not only were there more women in companies, but they also held more management positions – to the point that some journalists were talking in terms of ‘the End of Men’. It was also in 2010 that Michelle Obama became the most powerful woman in the world. She announced her famous ‘Let’s Move’ campaign in February.

In the second quarter, Ursula Burns was named Chairman of Xerox, having become the first woman of African-American descent to be appointed CEO of a Fortune 500 company a few months earlier. Barack Obama enlisted her for the US President’s Export Council at the same time. Meanwhile another woman, Kazuyo Sejima, won the Pritzker prize (the architectural equivalent of a Nobel). She was then appointed director of the Architecture sector for the 2010 Venice Biennale. And in February, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne inaugurated one of her buildings: the Rolex Learning Center. 

At the Venice Film Festival, opener Black Swan caught the attention of the critics – but it was Sofia Coppola who scooped the legendary Golden Lion, becoming the first American woman to win the award. On the technology front, there were two noteworthy innovations: Apple created yet another computer revolution by launching its iPad; and Instagram was born. 

Research also suggests that it was in 2010 that fourth-wave feminism began, driven by the emergence of the new forms of communication offered by social media. 

From this it follows that the 2010 watch had to be feminine, capable of telling a story, feature a design worthy of a Pritzker prize, and have a strong character – just like the women who made their mark on this year. One watch fits the bill perfectly: the Van Cleef & Arpels Pont des Amoureux (‘Lovers’ Bridge’). 

Why Van Cleef & Arpels?

Founded in 1896, the firm has always stood for the good taste and refinement of French jewellery. With premises on the legendary Place Vendôme in Paris since 1906, it won its first award at the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts. Since then, its reputation has gone from strength to strength. Famous clients include Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, and Iranian Empress Farah Pahlavi, with the maison making the crown for her Coronation ceremony. Then too, there was the 22-carat bracelet worn by Julia Roberts to the 2001 Oscars. 

What’s more, Susanne Bier was wearing a Van Cleef & Arpels necklace when she received the 2011 Academy Award for Best International Feature Film, which went to Revenge, released in 2010 – the same year in which the Pont des Amoureux watch was released. 

Van Cleef & Arpels Le Pont Des Amoureux – the ‘kissy kissy’ watch

This Van Cleef & Arpels is more than just a watch. With this daring feat, the Place Vendôme firm sought to escape the confines of set styles for women’s watches, in a combination of poetry and watchmaking complications: a masterwork produced by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht himself. 

What gives this watch its charm is the story it tells: the story of two lovers at either end of a bridge, gradually moving towards each other. At midnight, they kiss – and then chastely return, each to their own side, before the story begins all over again. 

The Van Cleef & Arpels is powered by a retrograde movement, housed in a diamond-studded white gold case. Its dark dial, gracaed with alternating blue and black shades, is the work of a master enameller, using the historic grisaille enamel technique. When it first came out, the Pont des Amoureux was available on a leather strap or a diamond-paved gold bracelet. 

Extrait “The Millennium Watch Book” : Pourquoi Pas

Lady Arpels Pont des Amoureux © Van Cleef & Arpels

The take from the devil’s advocate 

Not even Paris, Love, and Poetry combined can turn Mephistopheles’ sneer into a smile.

Admittedly, this Van Cleef & Arpels changed the face of ladies’ watches; although it could have been even more original if it had been given a different bracelet clasp; the one it has is too ‘ordinary’ for a women’s watch. I’d also have preferred to see styling on the case and handles echoing the Bridge theme. But aside from that, I suppose we can grudgingly let ourselves be carried away by the magic of this encounter, and hope that those lovebirds will one day be able to spend rather longer together than the very brief kiss they exchange at midnight. 


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