For the SIHH 2014, Van Cleef & Arpels turns its gaze to the heavens and gives pride of place to a captivating chapter in its watchmaking history: Poetic Astronomy. In keeping with one of the Maison’s cherished sources of inspiration, planets and constellations appear in enchanting guise to evoke voyages and dreams. The mechanics of time and the spheres are united in the Midnight Planétarium Poetic Complication timepiece, while unprecedented starry compositions are unveiled in the Extraordinary Dials collection. Chosen according to the inspiration of each piece, traditional craft skills form dazzling combinations, bearing witness to the innovation, creativity and excellence of Van Cleef & Arpels.
This new Poetic Complication timepiece 'Midnight Planétarium' in a robust rose gold case measuring 44mm in diameter provides a miniature representation of the movement of six planets around the sun and their position at any given time. Earth and Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn —all visible from Earth with the naked eye— are set in motion thanks to a self-winding mechanical movement of great complexity: equipped with an exclusive module developed in partnership with the Maison Christiaan van der Klaauw, it contains 396 separate parts. The movement of each planet is true to its genuine length of orbit: it will take Saturn over 29 years to make a complete circuit of the dial, while Jupiter will take almost 12 years, Mars 687 days, Earth 365 days, Venus 224 days and Mercury 88 days. The domed crystal allows for perfect view of the tridimensional planets that appear on the dial, something that is only possible thanks to the overlapping of seven sapphire crystal discs that compose the dial.
The Maison has applied its jewelry-making expertise to depicting the planets with a selection of hard stones: turquoise for the Earth, serpentine for Mercury, chloromelanite for Venus, red jasper for Mars, blue agate for Jupiter and sugilite for Saturn. Intricately sculpted by hand into spheres of different dimensions and colors, they are positioned round a sun in pink gold. Each of these elements, along with the shooting star in pink gold, is fixed on its own aventurine disc. With their scintillating deep blue hue, the latter are arranged around the center in perfectly concentric alignment. Painstaking attention has been given to selecting the stones, then sculpting the discs and spheres in order to give form to this animated tableau, with its combination of jewelry and watchmaking savoir-faire.
Telling the time is a simple question of observing the shooting star, a cherished lucky motif for the Maison. Located at the outer edge of the dial, it completes its circuit in 24 hours. The story continues on the back of the watch, where the oscillating weight is engraved with a starry composition. The day, month and year can be set using two push buttons and viewed through two apertures on the dial. These various functions are accompanied by a poetic invitation to celebrate one’s own lucky day. Using a rotating bezel, the watch’s owner can select the day of his choice by positioning a red triangle against a graduated calendar. On that date, the Earth will move to a position directly below the star engraved on the sapphire crystal, as a sign of good luck.
Don't forget to check the video at the bottom of this post to see how the watch works. Sticker Price $245,000 USD. For more info on Van Cleef & Arpels click here.
Technical Specifications of the VC&A Midnight Planétarium Poetic Complication:
Case: 18K Pink gold, 44mm diameter.
Dial: pink gold, aventurine, serpentine, chloromelanite, turquoise, red jasper, blue agate and sugilite.
Movement: Self-winding mechanical movement with a Christiaan van der Klaauw module developed exclusively for Van Cleef & Arpels.
Strap: Black alligator with pink gold folding buckle.
Also available with bezel set with baguette-cut diamonds and folding buckle set with round diamonds.