Watchmaking savoir-faire: enchantment and technical virtuosity
Reflecting the Enchanting Nature™ synonymous with Van Cleef & Arpels, the Lady Arpels Papillon Automate offer a singular experience of the passage of time, revealed with dreamlike beauty and harmony. Equipped with a particularly sophisticated automaton module, it depicts the random fluttering of a butterfly, moving in accompaniment to the movements of the watch’s wearer. A mutual relationship comes into being, as the hours slip by against a pastoral backdrop. The entire scene is illuminated by a wide range of traditional crafts, gathered together at Van Cleef & Arpels’ watchmaking workshops in Meyrin, Switzerland.
A world of poetry comes to life beneath the glass of its dial: as the hours and minutes flow discretely by on the right, the butterfly beats its wings randomly – one to four times in a row, depending on the power reserve. The frequency of the movements is also irregular, since they take place every two to four minutes when the watch is not being worn and more often when it is on the wrist. The butterfly’s liveliness echoes that of its wearer, with alternating periods of calm and activity. The spectacle on the dial can also be triggered at the push of a button: the butterfly then beats its wings on demand.
Reproducing the buttefly flying, unexpectedly and irregularly, required our Maison's watchmaking experts creativity and inventivity. The technical answer to this poetic challenge was to create a new exclusive module including an automaton, able to catch the holder of the watch's activity and reflecting it into the dial.
The art of enamel
The Lady Arpels Papillon Automate watch gives pride of place to a savoir-faire dear to the Maison: the enamel. The dial brings together a number of elements: the golden butterfly appears on a flower of sculpted mother-of-pearl, its wings colored with two shades of plique-à-jour enamel. The surrounding vegetation is adorned with champlevé enamel, with the exception of certain particularly rounded blades of grass, which are decorated with a greenish-blue gradation in curved plique-à-jour enamel. This new technique – developed specially by Van Cleef & Arpels – enables the enamel to assume the three-dimensional form of the motif. The transparency of the material combines with the effect of volume to emphasize the depth of the dial. The background accentuates the sense of perspective: a moon in paillonné enamel is reflected in water set with blue, mauve and violet sapphires.
Poetic Complications® collection
To express the poetry of each instant, the Maison draws from its own history and its emblematic sources of inspiration. Creations evoking the heritage of Van Cleef & Arpels live on side by side with new stories of love and luck. Fairies and ballerinas tick away the hours, while the rhythm of nature meets the pace of the cosmos. Each piece from the different watch collections tells a timely tale of grace and enchantment.
Setting the stones
The moon is rising over a pastoral landscape. The silver orb is reflected on the surface of a pool of blue, mauve and violet sapphires, amid flowers and long grass. This spectacle is also interspersed with round and pear-shaped diamonds, creating glittering corollas. Fluttering in the breeze, a butterfly alights delicately on a corolla, its movement attracting the attention of a passing walker.
The talent of gem setters has been necessary to give life to this enchanting spectacle, making the metal disappear to honor the beauty of dazzling and colorful gemstones.
Extraordinary Dials™ collection
Creations of the Extraordinary Dials collection gather métiers d'art and jewelry and watchmaking savoir-faire to create enchanting spectacles.
Dancers, fairies, flowers and butterflies come to life right in front of people looking at the time.
Sculpting and engraving
The flower on which the enamel butterfly landed is made with delicately-sculpted white mother-of-pearl. The volumes thereby given to this irridescent material bring depth to this precious picture.
The scene created on the dial cotinues on the back of the watch - with a bas-relief engraved on the rear of the case - and on the oscillating weight, which is visible through a decorated sapphire glass.
Bringing a final touch to the creation of the Lady Arpels Papillon Automate watch, the remaining appearing parts of the setting of the sapphires in the dial are painted, making the metallic support of the dial invisible. This handiwork requiring meticulousness andprecision is called miniature painting.
Many creations of the Extraordinary Dials collection give prominence to this technic. Some dials are even completely painted, allowing to see rich and complicated decorations, like on the Charms Extraordinaire watches.