Van Cleef & Arpels is clearly one of the masters of fairy-tales. With its amazing heritage, gorgeous high jewellery collections and poetic complications the Maison never fails to impress the enthusiasts of their magical world.
High Jewellery timepieces
The Secret Timepiece jewellery collection was issued in 1930, in which the petite women’s watches were hidden inside beautiful bracelets and later necklaces or pendants. In this era women were not to be seen wearing watches so the discreetly hidden timepieces captured the hearts of many. In 2016 their primary attention focused on these marvels, with a special entrant in the collection.
The Rubis Secret bracelet watch is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, a secret watch in a high jewellery bracelet, decorated with 115 exceptional rubies, weighing a total of 151.25 carats. Ruby is known as a pink to blood-red coloured gemstone, a variety of the mineral corundum. It is not easy to find really clear ones, inclusion-free rubies are practically non-existent. The rubies on the Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet display a dense and luminous consistency typical of Mozambique deposits, which often delivers rich, pinkish-red stones. To collect the most amazing rubies in consistent colour and quality took several years for the gem experts of the Maison.
A number of technical bravura were accomplished throughout the creation process: stones in such a great and consistent quality and colour had to be assembled, and the different cuts had to be arranged and adjusted to fit with one another. Staying true to Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery traditions, the reverse side equally had to be finished perfectly – the bracelet received an “Art Deco” motif on the inside.
Other challenges involved the development of an invisible hinge that enables the piece to open entirely, and the creation of a side drawer to reveal the time with discretion.
Lady Arpels Jour Nuit Fée Ondine
The ballerina and fairy clips of Van Cleef & Arpels made their debut it the early 1940s. They are not only captivating miniatures but were seen by the American customers of the jewellery house as symbols of hope and joy during the years of war. Since then they have become one of the most recognisable motifs of the House.
This year a little figure, the fairy Ondine appears on the Lady Arpels Jour Nuit Fée Ondine watch. The magic is cast by a self-winding mechanical movement, and a two-layer dial, the lower of which makes one revolution every 24 hours. Fairy Ondine sits on the leaf, watching the eternal dance of the sun and the moon. The dial shows different artistic techniques and materials: miniature painting, plique-à-jour and champlevé enamel with mother-of-pearl, diamonds, yellow and pink sapphires, spessartite and tsavorite garnets for the petals, pistils and leaves.
The case is set with diamonds while the case-back’s miniature engraved motifs echo the story of the dial.
Lady Arpels Ronde des Papillons
Many cultures have a strong symbolism associated with butterflies. They represent life, the freedom of the soul, change and joy, to mention a few. Papillons have inspired the Maison for many years.
The Lady Arpels Ronde des Papillons watch animates the ballet of three butterflies and a swallow on the spring sky. Butterflies appear one-by-one from behind the clouds, covering different segments of the hour – their outer wings point out the minutes. Every time one covered a segment, it hides behind the cloud and the next takes the baton. The swallows’ route shows the hours on a retrograde 12-hour scale.
The calibre with retrograde jumping hour, variable speed minutes and an animation on demand function was especially developed for this watch. There is an elliptical wheel inside the mechanism to fly the butterflies at different speeds.
Photo credits: Van Cleef & Arpels. Loupiosity.com.
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