There is no denying that when it comes to women’s watches (and jewelry), the famed house of Van Cleef & Arpels pretty much always gets it right. This year, at the SIHH 2018, the brand proved itself yet again – with a host of new feminine watches that could almost have women drooling. However, one watch set itself apart from all the others for a host of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it brings the world to the wrist in stunning fashion. The Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Planetarium Poetic Complication watch is an actual planetarium – a mechanical solar system model – on the wrist, the result of yet another collaboration with specialist Christiaan van der Klaauw.
In all fairness, we need to note that this is not Van Cleef & Arpels’ first astronomical timepiece. Back in 2008, the brand unveiled its Extraordinary Dials collection, wherein exquisite interpretations of our universe would live. Four years ago, the brand stole the show (literally, during SIHH 2014) with its Midnight Planetarium watch. For that 44mm timepiece, Van Cleef & Arpels worked with the undeniable master of astronomical watches, Christiaan van der Klaauw, to develop an extremely complex module atop an already complicated movement to depict and power eight revolving planets on the dial.
Now, the Maison once again turned to Van der Klaauw to develop an exclusive module for the all-new automatic movement base (ValFleurier) of this feminine sequel.
The Sky is Not the Limit
The 38mm Lady Arpels Planetarium watch features a pink gold sun in the middle of the dial, with the three closest planets rotating around it in actual planet time. Those three planets, aptly, are Earth, which is an alluring turquoise orb, Venus (because all women embody Venus) in green enamel that mimes Earth’s colors (this second planet from the sun is said to be Earth’s sister planet because of their similarities), and the hot, closest-to-the-sun planet Mercury, shown as an orb of pale pink mother of pearl. Additionally, the Earth’s moon is also depicted in the Earth’s orbit as a tiny diamond. The moon rotates around the turquoise Earth globe every 29.5 days – offering its own quiet ballet.
As mentioned, each of the planets on the dial rotates in real “planet” time around the center sun. So Mercury makes a full rotation on the dial every 88 days. Venus does the same every 224 days, and Earth every 365 days.
Making the slow dance of the planets even more imperceptible is the fact that the orbs, or globes, rotate on individual rings. In all, there are seven separate aventurine rings place in concentric circles. Three of the aventurine rings hold a planet on them, and another aventurine ring carries a shooting star made of rhodium-plated gold on it. That shooting star indicates the hours and the minutes. Between each hour marker are three dots – each indicating 15-minute segments (15,30,45). So, wherever the star is, one need just look at the hour the star just passed and at the dots between the hours to determine the time (to a relative few minutes).
The Beauty of Time
Further enhancing the beauty of this Poetry of Time watch, Van Cleef & Arpels meticulously sets the 18-karat white gold bezel with diamond brilliants, and further ensconces the entire side and lugs of the 18-karat white gold case with diamonds.
In a secret message for the wearer only, the watch’s case back depicts worldly information on a blue aventurine ring: date, month and year are shown via two apertures. There is also a color-coded key that indicates which planets are made of which materials. In the center of the case back, the oscillating weight is bedecked with the round turquoise Earth surrounded by the diamond-set crescent moon. The watch is offered with either a blue glitter alligator strap or a white-gold bracelet entirely set with diamonds.
The Lady Arpels Planetarium watch, with shimmering aventurine disks and gemstone planets, is a beautiful work of art for the wrist. While I am a fan of diamonds, the glittering blue alligator strap is the way to go.
This article has been written by Roberta Naas, founder of watch-magazine A Timely Perspective. Roberta is also the author of six books on watches.