Historic Pieces

    Mysterious clocks


    In the 19th century, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin – a famous French magician - combined his love for illusions, science, and watch-making to create the very first “mysterious clocks”: clocks with an apparently invisible mechanism.

    The great “mystery” of these clocks lies in their dials, which are made of crystal panels between which the numerals and hands are enclosed. These crystal panels, set inside an indented metal border, are animated via a mechanism hidden in the decorative base.

    Mysterious clocks: the alliance of illusions, science, and watch making.

    Portique Japonais clock, 1926, Van Cleef & Arpels Collection - Van Cleef & Arpels
    Portique Japonais clock, 1926, Van Cleef & Arpels Collection


    In 1926, Van Cleef & Arpels paid tribute to this brilliant inventor with two incredible timepieces: the Portique Japonais clock and the Ours de Jade clock.

    The Maison continued the illusion in 1998 with its most mysterious movement yet: the Galilée clock. It features a complete gyration of a dial in permanent verticality.

    A stellar bear, sparkling with more than 2,300 diamonds, turns in circles under a crystal moon. The celestial scene pays homage to Galileo and offers a beautiful interpretation of Van Cleef & Arpels’ Poetry of Time®.


    If you are interested in this theme, you may also like :The beginnings of watch-making


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