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The highly complex mechanism – which animates various elements and also tells the time – gives pride of place to an ephemeral poetry: movement and lightness, the beauty of nature, the grace of a fairy waking from sleep and the nuances of precious stones and enamel. This bejeweled tableau comes to life with infinite delicacy.
Creating the Automate Fée Ondine called for the excellence of the most expert craftsmen in their respective fields.
Day after day, these virtuosos communicated andshared their skills, each of them surpassing themselves to respond to the project’s specificities. The challenges were constant: miniaturizing the mechanism inside the fairy or shaping petals that were sufficiently light to be borne along by the movement, for example. They implied a continuous process of research, from design through to the final finishing touches.
After originating as a dream, Van Cleef & Arpels’ first Extraordinary Object thus developed into a collective human adventure, beneath the watchful eye of the Fée Ondine.
Combining a retrograde hour display and animation on demand, this creation provides the gaze with a dual spectacle. On the side of its ebony-colored base, a ladybird in Mystery Set rubies moves peacefully along the time scale.
When activated, the automaton comes to life for about 50 seconds, revealing a scene worthy of a fairy tale. First the water lily leaf begins to ripple, as if blown by a gentle breeze. Chimes ring out a crystalline melody and the water lily flower slowly blooms. The fairy awakes and raises her head to admire a butterfly at the center of the corolla: it rises into the air, beating its wings and twirling about. After moving simultaneously, the butterfly returns to its shelter, the fairy goes back to sleep and the water lily’s oscillation comes to an end.
The remarkably graceful silhouette of the Fée Ondine was first produced in white gold before being dressed in glittering finery. Her bodice and skirt are set with a gradation of sapphires, while her face, made of aquamarine, is crowned with a diamond headdress.
From her translucent wings, the light passes through the different shades, from navy blue to turquoise, while the fairy beats her wings in an irregular rhythm. Hidden inside the figurine, a miniature mechanism brings her to life in fluid movements.
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Forming the top of the Automate Fée Ondine, the large water lily leaf is made up of some 60 enameled strips assembled together, which ripple during the animation. One of this project’s technical challenges consisted in making the elements of the automaton as light as possible, so they could be animated by the mechanism. Exceptionally thin, the petals of the water lily flowers therefore had to be entirely shaped by hand before being enameled.
A true High Jewelry creation in keeping with the Maison’s Papillon clips, this piece required special research due to its movement of taking to the air. The creation is underlined by a lacy openwork of rose-cut diamonds, enabling the stones to be admired from both above and below. Echoing the opal’s fires, four pink sapphires enhance the composition with their feminine sparkle.
The ladybird, which so exquisitely keeps watch over the hours, is notable for its delicate proportions combined with the refinement of the Mystery Set. Each stone has been buffed by hand to endow the piece with a smooth and rounded relief effect, punctuated by diamonds that evoke the dots of this lucky creature.
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