Ni­co­las Bos, Pres­i­dent & CEO Van Cleef & Ar­pels

Revolution (Hong Kong) - - SIHH 2017 -

The next per­son on my in­ter­view rounds was Ni­co­las Bos, the Pres­i­dent and CEO of Van Cleef & Ar­pels, a po­si­tion he’s held for the past four years, although he first joined the pres­ti­gious jew­eler in 2000, as di­rec­tor for mar­ket­ing and de­sign. He has cer­tainly had a strong cre­ative in­flu­ence on the mai­son, and is keen to ex­plain the talk­ing piece that vis­i­tors could ad­mire at their booth, the Fée On­dine au­tom­a­ton: “There was per­haps an el­e­ment of sur­prise in pre­vi­ous in­tro­duc­tions that was stronger in the past, be­cause we came with propo­si­tions that were a lit­tle on the side or sur­pris­ing rel­a­tive to the watch­mak­ing tra­di­tion. Now, this el­e­ment of sur­prise is damp­ened be­cause it’s be­come the iden­tity of the mai­son, and our place in watch­mak­ing has estab­lished it­self, is bet­ter known and ex­pected. Hav­ing said that, we’re still look­ing to write new chap­ters in our story; we’ve al­ways had two axes of cre­ation and de­vel­op­ment these past few years that have been es­sen­tially fem­i­nine; the first that were al­ways around jew­elry watches, of high jew­elry, and to in­cor­po­rate a horo­log­i­cal func­tion into a piece that is, first of all, a piece of jew­elry. The other as­pect are the nar­ra­tive watches around the po­etic com­pli­ca­tions, and the ex­plo­ration on the di­als and of course on the tech­nique that is linked to the de­vel­op­ment of the move­ment, of what can con­tinue to tell our sto­ries. On that par­tic­u­lar land­scape, we worked quite a lot around the idea of the au­tom­a­ton, which is an ev­i­dent in­spi­ra­tion for us from the be­gin­ning, be­cause the story of the po­etic com­pli­ca­tion comes from the tra­di­tional au­toma­tons.”

“In par­al­lel with this story of po­etic com­pli­ca­tions, a while ago, it must be eight years or so, I wanted to re-link with this true tra­di­tion of the au­tom­a­ton. Given what we’ve been able to do within the con­fines of the watch case, since that where we’ve usu­ally worked in, it would cer­tainly be in­ter­est­ing to see if we could also give life to a tra­di­tional ta­ble au­tom­a­ton, with­out nec­es­sar­ily know­ing where we’d go with it. How­ever, it’s a more com­plex and less struc­tured craft that watch­mak­ing, there are very few play­ers. So seven or eight years ago, we met François Junod who hap­pened to be some­one who still had workshops and crafts­men that made au­toma­tons, and we thought we could work on this cre­ation.”

In an in­ter­est­ing twist, Bos says that it’s this devel­op­men­tal work on the Fée On­dine that gave the mai­son in­spi­ra­tion for the Lady Ar­pels Papil­lon Au­to­mate watch. He adds, “In work­ing on the au­tom­a­ton, it brought us to the idea, with the but­ter­fly, to re-work it into a watch dial. We can go fur­ther on this mag­i­cal and sur­pris­ing as­pect, and in giv­ing birth, in the space of a watch case, to the but­ter­fly’s flight and in three dimensions.”

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