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.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Watches & Jewels -

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

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