Poetry in MOTION
Van Cleef & Arpels unveils a starry composition – with moving planets, no less – made to fit perfectly on the wrist. By Cai Mei Khoo.
maison whose name is synonymous with romance, beauty, and a touch of whimsy, Van Cleef & Arpels is well known for its stunning, dreamy collections. Bedazzled by the inspiring patterns of constellations, the celestial theme started in its jewellery and high jewellery pieces, before crossing over to timepieces in 2008, with the introduction of the Lady Arpels Jour Nuit, and the Midnight in Paris watch that followed soon after. At this year’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie ( SIHH 2014), the maison again looked to the skies for a new chapter in its watchmaking story: Poetic Astronomy. “The conception of Poetic Astronomy is an astronomy that encourages dreams,” reveals Nicolas Bos, president and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels. “It is the idea that representations of stars, constellations, and planets have always been a way of travelling, of imagining oneself beyond the Earth.”
“Astronomy is poetic by definition and nature,” continues astrophysicist André Brahic. “On the one hand, there is the serious scientific study, and on the other there is the dream that the stars represent.” Shares Bos, “It is this idea of poetry, so intimately linked to astronomy and its discoveries, that we have tried to reinterpret and bring to life with our watch movements.”
The star of this year’s SIHH 2014 is the Midnight Planétarium Poetic Complication watch, a masterpiece meant to represent a miniature version of the solar system. The six planets visible to the naked eye from Earth are featured on the dial. Applying its jewellery-making expertise in this area, Van Cleef & Arpels picked turquoise for Earth, serpentine for Mercury, chloromelanite for Venus, red jasper for Mars, blue agate for Jupiter, and sugilite for Saturn. Each planet is intricately sculpted by hand and fixed on its own aventurine disc in a concentric alignment that rotates around the pink-gold sun.
The self-winding mechanical movement is equipped with a Christiaan van der Klaauw module developed exclusively for the maison. The movement of each planet l f follows ll i its actual ll length of orbit – it will take Mercury 88 days to complete a circuit of the dial; Saturn will take over 29 years to make a complete circuit – a true work of art to appreciate the Poetry of Time.
Gaze at the rose-gold shooting star, a lucky symbol of the marque, which follows the outer edge of the dial with 24 hour markers. Another star is etched into the sapphire crystal just below the centre line of the watch. Known as the Lucky star, you can set a date by rotating the bezel to position its red triangle against the graduated calendar on the watch. On that date, the Earth will move into a position directly underneath the Lucky star. “To be lucky, you have to believe in luck,” Jacques Arpels once said. Could there be a more beautiful lucky charm than this?
“It is impossible not to be fascinated by the way these constellations, stars, and planets have been represented, by the techniques used – drawing, enamel, and precious stones – and by the beauty that can result from such a scientific foundation,” says Bos. “The inspiration behind this idea of Poetic Astronomy is the vision of the sky and stars that Van Cleef & Arpels has developed over the decades, a vision largely based on tales of luck, on the signs of the Zodiac, on the idea of lucky stars.” In this case, luck is a Midnight Planétarium Poetic Complication watch.
Close-up view of the planets on an aventurine dial
Midnight Planétarium Poetic Complication watch, Van Cleef & Arpels
The making of the Midnight Planétarium Poetic Complication watch