“For a number of years now, we have remained faithful to those watch collections that perfectly capture Van Cleef & Arpels’ identity as a jeweller, with models intended to express the imagery and philosophy that we, as a maison, treasure,” says outright Nicolas Bos, International Marketing Director for Van Cleef & Arpels, speaking at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva. “In a word, our poetic complications are the horological expression of the themes, such as nature, luck and love, that distinguish and identify our brand.”
Watchmaker since 1906
For the recently-held SIHH, Van Cleef & Arpels set out to perpetuate this tradition, calling extensively on the talent of watchmaker Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and dial-maker Olivier Vaucher. “The first Van Cleef & Arpels watch dates back to 1906,” Nicolas Bos continues. “Clearly then, watchmaking has always been a part of the brand, with more or less emphasis at different periods. In every instance, however, we have worked hand-in-hand with the foremost specialists in the sector. Our vocation isn’t to develop our own movements but rather to be the author, or co-author, of beautiful realisations, notably with Vacheron Constantin. We firmly believe we cannot be best at everything. Van Cleef & Arpels is and remains a creator of Fine Jewellery.”
And so the jeweller’s 2009 collections explore new interpretations of its poetic complications. Une Journée à Paris and the Les Jardins quantième de saison models are all brought to life by complicated mechanical movements which, in Nicolas Bos’ words, must “tell a story.” “Une Journée à Paris began life three years ago as a Fine Jewellery collection. Here, we return to this theme with a timeless stroll through the City of Light, on a discovery of its most emblematic and evocative landmarks.” As the day unfolds, seven silhouettes parade against a black onyx disc, peeping out from the mother-of-pearl dial before disappearing, only to reappear twenty-four hours later.
An incitation to travel
Les Jardins is a collection of four gardens, each reflecting a different mood (a formal French garden, a romantic English garden, an Oriental garden and an Italian Renaissance garden). Each draws on the 365-day quantième de saison movement, and gives pride of place to the decorative arts of enamelling, stone-setting, gold sculpting and lacquer work. Together they impart a three-dimensional aspect to the dials, which are the beginning of an initiatory journey into the heart of Nature herself. The range then continues with the Midnight collection, with a tourbillon movement and the same extreme attention to the qualities and beauty of the dials.
“Our Midnight in Paris model, which we unveiled last year, was extremely well received,” Nicolas Bos recounts. “In fact we were sent numerous special orders requesting that we adapt the map of the stars to potential buyers’ geographic location. Clearly, this helps give substance to Van Cleef & Arpels’ watchmaking activity. In a similar vein, the Midnight Les Jardins collection, whose tourbillon adds further depth to the dial while highlighting the technical characteristics of the watch, plays an important role in creating a true complement to our jewellery activity.” For this Paris-based maison, whose values are so firmly anchored as to be almost a heritage, “telling stories” is second nature… especially when these stories will be handed down from generation to generation.