Discover the magical world of Van Cleef & Arpels’ timekeeping

Van Cleef & Arpels’ watches and objets d’art take inspiration from magical worlds to tell the time

(Image credit: press)

Van Cleef & Arpels has delved into its dreamlike archives for this year’s new horological releases, which encompass both watches and exquisite timekeeping objets d’art. For this year’s offerings, the jewellery house builds on a history of creating one-of-a-kind objects that stretches back to 1906.

The first piece looks to the heavens and celestial traditions, with the sun, the moon and planets drawn in precious gems in the new Planétarium automaton. Moving at their real speed of rotation, the planets carry out their complete orbits of the sun – 88 days for Mercury, 224 days for Venus, 365 days for the Earth, 687 days for Mars, 11.86 years for Jupiter, and 29.5 years for Saturn. Meanwhile, the moon rotates around the Earth in a 29.5-day cycle. Visual and aural accompaniment, in the form of a shooting star that circles the dial to reveal the hours, and music created with Swiss musician Michel Tirabosco, completes the experience.

Fontaine aux Oiseaux by Van Cleef & Arpels

Fontaine aux Oiseaux

(Image credit: TBC)

In the Fontaine aux Oiseaux automaton, the time is told via a feather on the side of a basin seemingly filled with water, which appears to ripple in line with the piece’s movements. The birds perched on the edge wake up and chirp their song, while a dragonfly rises into the air, beating its wings.

Lady Arpels flower watch

Lady Arpels Heures Florales

(Image credit: press)

Timepieces, too, imbue organic movements in nature with a functionality. In the Lady Arpels Heures Florales Cerisier watch, the time is told through flowers that bloom on the dial, their number corresponding to the hour. Every hour, the watch’s dial is refreshed with a budding new scene. In other new releases, the ballerina takes centre stage in a nod to dance, one of Van Cleef & Arpels’ major inspirations. Two versions of the Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée watch depict the ballet dancer mid-pose, similar to a butterfly in her elegant, gem-speckled silhouette. 

Ballerina watch

Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantee Pavee

(Image credit: press)


Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.