Star light, star bright

Tiny LED bulbs light up the con­stel­la­tions in these Van Cleef & Arpels watches.

Esquire (Singapore) - - Style -

The Van Cleef & Arpels Mid­night Zo­diac Lu­mineux col­lec­tion is an elec­tri­fy­ing se­ries be­cause these 12 time­pieces light up at the push of a but­ton. A def­i­nite world-first in the haute hor­logerie seg­ment, the col­lec­tion con­sists of 12 as­tro­log­i­cal de­signs for all the signs of the Western zo­diac.

On blue glit­ter enamel di­als rem­i­nis­cent of the Milky Way, finely sculpted white gold ap­pliques de­pict the signs of the zo­diac and are ac­com­pa­nied by the stars in the con­stel­la­tion. Those stars in turn are made of del­i­cate translu­cent blue enamel beads, shaped by hand and then mounted on the dial. In­trigu­ingly, some of these enamel beads light up on de­mand.

Between four and six tiny LED bulbs back­light the enamel beads for three sec­onds in a de­light­ful show­case of Van Cleef & Arpels’ watch­mak­ing cre­ativ­ity. Yet this isn’t sim­ply a bat­tery-op­er­ated de­vice, but rather backed by an 18th-cen­tury phe­nom­e­non known as piezo­elec­tric­ity. This is the ca­pac­ity of cer­tain ma­te­ri­als to ac­cu­mu­late an elec­tric charge when the right con­di­tions are met.

Within the watch is a mod­ule with a ce­ramic blade that vi­brates un­der the ef­fect of the wearer’s move­ments, caus­ing elec­tri­cal en­ergy to be gen­er­ated me­chan­i­cally. That en­ergy is then trans­ferred to the LED bulbs each time the but­ton at eight o’clock is pressed. A spell­bind­ing com­pli­ca­tion from a po­etic mai­son.

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