Known for its po­etic com­pli­ca­tions, Van Cleef & Ar­pels of­fers a much grander form in its first Ex­tra­or­di­nary Ob­ject this year.

Robb Report (Malaysia) - - Time - By Ken­neth Tan

While the no­tion of po­etry and magic has long been the main­stay in Van Cleef & Ar­pels’ of­fer­ings in horol­ogy and jew­ellery, this year saw the mai­son’s artis­tic sense flour­ish on a big­ger for­mat.

“We wanted to have the pos­si­bil­ity to tell a story on a greater scale, for view­ers to see it in all the di­men­sions,” says Jean Bien­ayme, the mai­son’s in­ter­na­tional mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion direc­tor.

The re­sult is Van Cleef & Ar­pels’ first Ex­tra­or­di­nary Ob­ject, the Au­to­mate Fee On­dine, which is – in its purest dis­til­la­tion – a ta­ble clock. How­ever, years of pa­tience and the in­ten­sive ex­per­tise of au­tom­a­ton maker Fan­cois Junod has posited a fairy-like fan­ta­sia on top of the horo­log­i­cal com­po­nent. “Fran­cois is like a kind of Gepetto and his of­fice is like Gepetto’s work­shop,” Bien­ayme says of the col­lab­o­ra­tion with the renowned tal­ent, which be­gan with first draw­ings eight years ago and fi­nally yielded this re­mark­able piece. For the record, Junod pro­claimed this to be the most chal­leng­ing of all his projects ever ac­com­plished. En­riched by the gem-set­ters, enam­ellers and other artis­tic crafts from Van Cleef & Ar­pels’ ate­lier, the com­pleted art piece is a truly one- of- a-kind ex­e­cu­tion of a del­i­cate fairy fig­ure awak­en­ing from sleep in syn­chrony with a but­ter­fly ris­ing from a blos­som­ing lily. The en­tire an­i­ma­tion se­quence oc­curs across 50 breath­tak­ing sec­onds, which Bien­ayme de­scribes as

Au­to­mate Fee On­dine is – in its purest dis­til­la­tion – a ta­ble clock.

“dis­cov­er­ing the en­chant­ing na­ture and emo­tion within the pas­sage of time”.

“Our way of il­lus­trat­ing the con­cept of time is not just in tak­ing the met­ric value,” Bien­ayme says. “At the end of the day, it should be cre­at­ing some­thing re­ally worth our time.” In that light, the ex­tra­or­di­nary craft in Au­to­mate Fee On­dine is al­lied to eye- catch­ing high jew­ellery work. On the top of this piece, one finds en­graved and enam­elled sil­ver strips merged with white gold, pink gold, di­a­monds and pink sap­phires. The fairy fig­ure is translu­cent with plique-a-jour enamel and sparkles with di­a­monds, sap­phires and milky aqua­ma­rine on white gold, while the but­ter­fly is sim­i­larly be­decked, with the ad­di­tion of Aus­tralian white opal. A base of ebony ve­neer houses the man­ual-wound me­chan­i­cal au­tom­a­ton move­ment ca­pa­ble of dis­charg­ing five cy­cles of the an­i­ma­tion when fully wound.

As to the why of this ob­ject’s ex­is­tence, Bien­ayme re­sponds with a smile: “Cru­cially, it is to in­vent some­thing new. This is in­her­ent within us since the be­gin­ning of the mai­son when we in­vented the mys­te­ri­ous set­ting and then the zip neck­lace, both of which were very dif­fi­cult tech­niques to mas­ter. Our jour­ney is al­ways about look­ing for new magic.”

The fairy fig­ure is translu­cent with plique-a-jour enamel.

A se­ries of in­tri­cate, hid­den move­ments en­able the jew­elled fairy au­tom­a­ton to sit up on the lily pad.

Every el­e­ment of this unique piece was care­fully hand­crafted, with each dis­play­ing a dif­fer­ent dec­o­ra­tive tech­nique.

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