MEMORIES OF MIDNIGHT
Alionshead studded with blue sapphires, orange-red garnets, yellow enamel and golden foil sits proudly on the dial of one watch (pictured), while a bull, rendered in green enamel, white gold, diamonds and blue sapphire, looks on from another. A third timepiece depicts the tail of a scorpion in diamonds, silvered foil and purple enamel, while a fourth shows twin figures enshrouded in cloaks made of white gold, opaque blue enamel and more diamonds.
Having introduced its Midnight Zodiac Lumineux watches for men at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie watch fair in Geneva earlier this year, Van Cleef & Arpels has created a new set of Lady Arpels Zodiac Lumineux models. The timepieces, which are part of the maison’s Poetic Astronomy line, pay homage to the 12 star signs, with a watch designed for each. The four elements are depicted in varying hues of stones and enamel: green for earth, orange for fire, and blue and violet for the air and water signs.
In addition to the trademark motifs, the 38-milimetre dials etch out the constellation associated with the signs of the Zodiac, rendered in translucent blue enamel beads. The self-winding mechanical timepieces are affixed with a shimmering blue alligator strap and a white gold pin buckle set with diamonds. The men’s watches, on the other hand, come with a 42mm dial, black alligator bracelet and a folding buckle in white gold. While the women’s watches stand out for their diamonds and coloured gemstones, the ram, crab, fish, archer and other motifs in the men’s iterations are kept simple with a silver enamel tracing.
Both sets of watches feature midnight blue dials that are meant to bring to mind the depths of the cosmos, a theme that the maison has explored in various collections, notably the Midnight Planétarium watch, which captures the movements of the planets in real time. In fact, the astrological theme has been a key one for Van Cleef & Arpels since the 1950s.
Also common to the watches is the light-ondemand module, first developed for the Midnight Nuit Lumineuse watch in 2016. This results in a unique illuminating effect, which has its origins in piezoelectricity. The phenomenon refers to the capacity of certain materials to accumulate an electric charge when subjected to mechanical constraints.
Developed exclusively for Van Cleef & Arpels, the module incorporates a piezoceramic blade, the vibration of which – under the effect of the watch’s movement – enables electrical energy to be generated mechanically. This is then used to power LED lights, which backlight the “constellations” at the press of a button for up to three seconds, to give a fleeting impression of twinkling stars in the night sky.