The connoisseur looking for priceless works of art in the form of time pieces is likely to find the finest of such watches at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) exhibition held annually in Geneva. The 23rd edition of the SIHH was held last month in January from 21st – 25th at Geneva Palexpo. The invitation-only event attracted nearly 12,500 visitors globally. Sixteen watch and jewellery brands participated this year. Prominent among them was the prestigious House of Van Cleef & Arpels, owned by the Richemont Group, the world’s second largest luxury group after LVMH.
Founded in 1906, Van Cleef & Arpels last year celebrated a century of its craft of creating fine jewellery and watches distinctive for their feminine and upbeat feel. Nicolas Bos, who already holds the post of the Director of Creation and CEO America, was last month given the added title of CEO Worldwide of the House of Van Cleef & Arpels. As the youngest CEO ever of the Maison, he has reasons to be proud of the beautiful watch collection that reflects the beauty of nature, of ballerinas and butterflies.
Guided by Bos’s fine sense of aesthetics, and his deep understanding of the style and refinement of the Maison, Van Cleef & Arpels presented an enchanting interpretation of
the passage of time at the 23rd SIHH. From engraving and sculpture on gold to enamelling, miniature painting on mother-of-pearl and translucent lacquer, Van Cleef & Arpels has assembled the talents of virtuoso craftsmen to transform the Maison’s dreams of beauty into reality. Each piece of the Charms Extraordinaires series is adorned with a triple row of diamonds and colored stones, selected using the strictest criteria and mounted on the bezel. The Extraordinary Dials series watches interpret the passage of time with twirling butterflies and kites, brought to life by the skilled craftsmen.
Van Cleef & Arpels’ new timepieces epitomize the Poetry of Time™ so characteristic of its collections and place enchantment firmly at the centre of this year’s SIHH. Drawing inspiration from some of its most cherished sources, the Maison has given pride of place to its most delicate creatures: dancers and fairies, swallows and butterflies. To honour such benevolent muses, watch making and imagination unite in a common ode to the poetry of the passing hours. Fluid movement, lightness and refinement are the dominant themes: the new Ballerine Enchantée watch seems caressed by a faint breath of air, while a gentle breeze floats over the dials and their virtuoso craftsmanship to choreograph an ethereal ballet of lucky charms. These exceptional pieces display all the watch making savoir-faire associated with Van Cleef & Arpels, from the Poetic Complications™ collection that combine technical and aesthetic prowess to the craft skills which transform each timepiece into a captivating spectacle.
Van Cleef & Arpels has also recently opened its doors to impart training in the craft, with the launch of a jewellery school, L’École Van Cleef & Arpels. Marie Vallanet Delhom who embodies French refinement, as a lover of music, art and literature, is the very capable President of the L’École Van Cleef & Arpels, which is located in one of the classic 18th-century townhouses –originally built for Parisian aristocracy – in the place Vendôme. L’École Van Cleef & Arpels will now shed light on a century of knowledge of haute joaillerie, which until now was reserved for a discreet circle of insiders. The school has five instructors, each an expert within their field, including Inezita Gay (art history), Dominique Dufermont (gemology), and Vincent Roi (jewellery).
Open to all ages (classes are taught in English and French), there are 11 modules to study, each around four hours long, which take participants through a path of discovery in three hands-on steps. ‘Unveiling’ is the first step, taking in topics such as historical aesthetics, Art Nouveau, and learning how to mix and match stones. ‘Shedding Light On’ is the second step, where the participants refine their skills, and experience the process of sketch to mock-up. The final step – ‘Revealing’ – focuses on the savoir-faire of Van Cleef & Arpels – and gives participants access to the Maison’s workshop, craftsmen, and designers.
(with inputs from Estelle Arielle Bouchet)