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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

In the summer of 2014 Van Cleef & Arpels introduced the revival of a French literary fairytale, the Peau d’Âne written in verse by Charles Perrault (published in 1694 and the Brothers Grimm also had a version of this story in the 19th century), in the form of a new high-jewellery collection in a fabulous setting, fitting the characters perfectly.

This year Van Cleef & Arpels continues this fairytale and has unveiled the Lady Arpels Peau d’Âne Forêt enchantée  watch Extraordinary Dials collection, at Watches & Wonders 2015.

Requiring over 150 hours of work, the dial of this precious timepiece associates stone setting with miniature sculptures and engraving on gold and miniature painting. White and yellow gold, diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, tsavorite garnets and spessartite garnets also lend different colours and structures to the dial. By creating different layers, the timepiece shows a little magical world on the wrist. You have the feeling, that you can almost step inside the enchanted forest…

Lady Arpels Peau d’Âne Forêt enchantée watch, Extraordinary Dials collection

The Maison has been constantly inspired by nature, but always in a very lively, positive way. The booth, the jewellery and timepieces at Watches & Wonders all mirrored this philosophy.

Among the highlights we had the chance to admire the Oiseaux Enchantés Extraordinary Dials with miniature feather art – in partnership with Nelly Saunier. She is a “feather marquetry” artist (known as plumasserie in French). Nelly adorns various haute-couture and haute joaillerie pieces with feathers. She has worked with designers at Jean-Paul Gaultier, Paco Rabanne, Givenchy, Yves St Laurent, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, just to name a few.

Please see a glimpse at her work, inspiration and the life-long relationship with her creations here:


Each feather is selected by its colour, texture and requires extreme precision. The three colourful birds, the Carmin, Colibri and the Kingfisher are applied on hard stone marquetry dials. The real feathers enhance the three-dimensional effect even further.

Lady Arpels Martin-Pêcheur Azur
Lady Arpels Martin-Pêcheur Azur

Besides the beautiful creatures of nature, in 2015 Van Cleef & Arpels reveals a new collection of an icon, the Cadenas watch. Visitors were provided with an overview of the story of Cadenas and saw historical pieces in a dedicated mini-exhibition at the booth. The cabinets showcased some great pieces, such as cigarette cases, minaudières (a small bag, which is more like a jewellery piece, intended to substitute an evening bag) and other objects inspired by Art Deco, Cubism and Modernism.

The timepiece was created in 1935, influenced by the style and artistic movements of the era. In that age women typically were not to be seen wearing watches so the discreetly hidden timepieces captured the hearts of many ladies.

Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor was a great customer of the Maison, many creations were initiated upon her request. She was one of the style icons of her age, and she was the reason behind Edward VIII’s abdication of the throne. King Edward VIII, also known as the Duke of Windsor presented the Cadenas watch to her in 1936.

The abstract geometric shape and lines of the timepiece remain the same today, with a contemporary interpretation.

The new Cadenas pieces have an enlarged dial and secured clasp. The collection consists of simple but refined gold pieces (also with an alligator strap), diamond-decorated white and yellow gold versions in the serti neige style (it means, that the diamonds are placed one next to the other by adjusting their different diameters) or pavée models (white or pink gold), set with diamonds and pink sapphires.

Cadenas yellow gold, "serti neige" diamond setting

Photo credits: Van Cleef & Arpels, Loupiosity.com.
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