I can appreciate a luxury brand that uses words, artistic expressions and multi-media displays to tell stories that are simple yet compelling. There’s almost no one who does it better than Van Cleef & Arpels. Each year, I look forward to their annual presentation at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), where they always find new and magical ways to tell their timeless stories of love. It’s not an easy task and few luxury brands are good at story telling these days even though many have great stories to tell.
This year the Parisian luxury house presented its newest versions of its “Poetic Complications,” high jewelry watches and a couple high jewelry show stoppers. “Hide and seek” is the theme of many of their new pieces.
“Rubis Secret” watch bracelet
This unique piece features white and pink gold covered in 115 oval-cut Mozambique rubies (151.25 total carats) of matching color. They are arranged in three even, smooth rows, despite slight variations of cut, from oval to cushion. Each row of rubies is separated by four rows of diamonds and further enhanced by tiny pairs of round diamond studs throughout the bracelet.
The “secret” in this bejeweled bracelet is a small, rectangular quartz-powered watch that discreetly slides in and out on a white gold plate. An “invisible” hinge for the sliding door is only visible when the drawer is opened when pressing on the rubies. The piece required 1,500 hours, or more than year’s work to complete. The price is available upon request.
The luxury brand also introduced a versatile secret bejeweled timepiece that can be worn as a necklace or bracelet with or without the quartz timepiece hidden inside a surround of tassels. In style, this watch takes its cues from the fashion sense of the 1940s and 1950s, the jewelry house explained.
There are two versions of this high jewelry watch: One in pink gold, round diamonds, round pink sapphires, red spinels, white cultured pearls, coral and white mother-of-pearl. The other is a unique piece in white gold, round diamonds, onyx, black spinels, white cultured pearls and white mother-of-pearl.
Lady Arpels Ronde des Papillons
Perhaps more interesting from a story telling perspective is the newest versions of Van Cleef & Arpels’ “Poetic Complications” timepieces, including the Lady Arpels Ronde des Papillons (round butterflies).
The 38mm case white gold case has a bezel set with diamonds and crown set with one diamond. Inside is a dial made of mother-of-pearl, engraved gold and miniature painting that depicts what the brand describes as an “aerial ballet” made of a blue sky with white clouds and the occasional appearances of three butterflies and a swallow. The same motif is engraved in sapphire glass on the back of the case.
The automatic movement has a retrograde jumping hour, variable speed minutes and an on-demand animation module developed exclusively for Van Cleef & Arpels.
The butterflies serve as the minute hands (really more like guides) and the swallow points toward the hour markers. There’s an animation mechanism activated by a button that allows for a 10-second animated show of the butterflies and birds flying within the clouds. The figures then return to their proper spots on the dial, allowing for the time that has passed during the animation.
Snowflake and Snowflake Fleurette High Jewelry Watches
Among traditional jewelry timepieces, the luxury brand introduced two versions that are covered in white diamonds.
The first has a 20mm platinum case with the bezel, white dial and platinum bracelet encrusted with diamonds (above). The second is an 18mm version called the Snowflake “Fleurette” (small flower) with very the same materials, similar details but a slightly different appearance.
All of the diamonds are of D and E for color, VVS clarity. On each side of the case, seven diamonds make up petals of a flower. On the Snowflake Fleurette model, the theme is repeated two more times. The more abstract Snowflake model is adorned with a diamond embroidery. Prong settings are combined with scalloped settings, which cover the edges of the stones with a hem of platinum.
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