SIHH 2013: Van Cleef & Arpels (with live photos)

This year Van Cleef & Arpels continues with its speciality of jewelled ladies’ watches, mostly in an Art Nouveau style. Unlike previous years, however, VC&A did not have a major new Poetic Complication (the brand’s range of ladies’ complicated watches) to present. Last year for example VC&A unveiled the impressive pair of Poetic Wish Five Minute Repeaters.

Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée Poetic Complication

Reminiscent of the Poetic Complication Féérie which inaugurated the Poetic Complications line six years ago, the new Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée is similar to the double retrograde watches of previous years, but it differs in two key respects.

While the earlier Poetic Complications had retrograde time displays, the Ballerine Enchantée shows the time on demand: pressing the button at eight o’clock causes each half of the ballerina’s skirt (shaped like the wings of a butterfly) to rise to indicate the time, starting with the hours on the left and then minutes on the right. Once up, each veil pauses momentarily for the time to be read, before returning to its original position.

And unlike the previous Poetic Complications which were done by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht at Agenhor, the Ballerine Enchantée movement was created by La Fabrique du Temps, the complications specialist owned by Louis Vuitton, best known for its work on Laurent Ferrier’s beautiful movements.

As is typical for VC&A, the dial of the Ballerine Enchantée is elaborately decorated. The ballerina is in solid gold with an enamelled skirt, set against a translucent, purple guilloche enamel dial. Both the dial as well as bezel are set with diamonds. And the case is white gold with a diameter of 40.5 mm.

With similarly decorated dials, but sans complications, is the VC&A Extraordinary Dials collection. This year sees five wristwatches with butterfly motifs added to the collection.

All of the Papillons Extraordinary Dials are in white gold and 36 mm in diameter. Inside is a hand-wound movement, I believe from Piaget.

Lady Arpels Papillon Orange Solaire

Lady Arpels Papillon Noir Argent
Lady Arpels Papillon Bleu Nuit
Lady Arpels Papillon Rouge Gourmand

The dials have a mother of pearl base, and decorated with various techniques of enamel as well as diamonds. The colours, depth and texture of the dials are beautiful.

Lady Arpels Papillon Extraordinaire

Each is limited to 22 pieces, except for the Lady Arpels Papillon Extraordinaire which is part of the regular collection.

Also new is the Cerfs-Volants Extraordinary Dials. These depict kites, done in miniature painting, on a mother of pearl dial.

Lady Arpels Cerf-Volant Carmin
Lady Arpels Cerf-Volant Cyan

These are also limited to 22 pieces in 38 mm white gold cases, with a hand-wind movement. There are four versions available, but for some reason I only have photos of two.

An entirely new ladies’ model is the Charms Extraordinaires. Available in four different guises, the Charms Extraordinaires has a jewelled lucky charm attached to a ring around the case of the watch. The ring is not fixed, so the charm freely travels around the case.

Charms Extraordinaire Féérie Dandelion

Charms Extraordinaire Hirondelles

All of these are quartz, in a 32 mm case in either white or pink gold. The bezels are set with diamonds and precious stones. The dials are decorated with either miniature painting on mother of pearl or enamel, and set with gems. Each is limited to 22 pieces.

Charms Extraordinaire Lotus
Charms Extraordinaire Muguet

Similarly lavishly decorated but in the larger 40 mm Midnight case is a series of four watches depicting dragons on the dial. Like the other watches from the Extraordinary Dials collection, these dragon motif watches are beautifully executed.

Last is the Pierre Arpels ultra thin on bracelet. Launched last year on a leather strap, the Pierre Arpels is now available with a fine and supple bracelet – it reminds me of mesh bracelets from the seventies – that perfectly suits the watch. In fact, I daresay it looks better on a bracelet than on a strap.

See the rest of my SIHH 2013 comprehensive reports. The brand reports listed in italics are still in progress. A. Lange & Söhne Audemars Piguet Cartier Greubel Forsey IWC Jaeger-LeCoultre Montblanc Panerai Parmigiani Piaget Richard Mille Roger Dubuis Vacheron Constantin Van Cleef & Arpels – SJX

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SIHH 2013: Piaget (with live photos)

In 2013 Piaget continues to emphasise its in-house, ultra-thin movements. Personally I find an ultra-thin movement in itself not exceptionally fascinating, unless combined with complications or a high level of finishing, as Piaget does.

Piaget Altiplano Date Ultra-Thin 40 mm

Building on the successful ultra-thin Altiplanos of previous years, the new Altiplano Date Ultra-Thin differs from the previous models in that it has a smaller, 40 mm case as well as a date display.  The small size makes makes it feel a bit more elegant than the 43 mm Altiplano, and the date display is useful, if unattractive on such a simple watch.

Inside is the well finished 1205P, which is the world’s thinnest automatic movement with date at 3 mm high. The entire watch stands just 6.36 mm high. Slim as this and the other Piaget ultra-thin watches are, Jaeger-LeCoultre snatched the record for the slimmest wristwatch of any kind this year with its Master Ultra-Thin Jubilee.

Previously only available in white gold, the Altiplano Ultra-Thin Skeleton is now in rose gold with ruthenium coated bridges. This 38 mm watch is a mere 5.34 mm high.

The movement is skeletonised in a clean and simple style, as is the case with all Piaget skeleton or open-worked watches. Notably the rotor is platinum, but plated in rose gold to match the case. 

For those who want something more extravagant, the Altiplano is available in a wide range of gem set versions, including this 38 mm version in rose gold with diamonds.

Originally launched in 2011, the Emperador Coussin Tourbillon Automatic is now available in white gold with a ceramic bezel. 

Visible through the sapphire dial is the ruthenium coated movement. And two apertures in the dial show the micro-rotor as well as the flying tourbillon.

This kind of modern, black on white colour scheme for a watch like this is out of place, in my opinion. But it certainly adds a more contemporary feel to the watch. And finally the piece de resistance of the 2013 collection, the Emperador Coussin Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater, which was previewed here just before SIHH. At just 9.4 mm high, this is the thinnest minute repeater on the market.

Housed in a 48 mm rose gold case, the 1290P calibre is basically the 1200P movement with the addition of a minute repeater module (as are many of Piaget’s other complications).


With some clever engineering Piaget managed to compress the entire calibre to just 4.8 mm high, while still achieving a loud 64 dB chime. Piaget also says that this minute repeater is finished to a higher standard than any of its other calibres. Upon close inspection that is proved to be true – the movement is modern in style but exceptionally well finished. The steel racks of the repeater are especially beautifully done. 

Although it has to be said the finishing on the dial side, which has the minute repeater module, is slightly more lavish than that on the back. See the rest of my SIHH 2013 comprehensive reports. The brand reports listed in italics are still in progress. A. Lange & Söhne Audemars Piguet Cartier Greubel Forsey IWC Jaeger-LeCoultre Montblanc Panerai Parmigiani Piaget Richard Mille Roger Dubuis Vacheron Constantin Van Cleef & Arpels – SJX

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News: Chopard L.U.C XPS Poinçon de Genève in platinum

For the opening of its new boutique in Geneva Chopard has created a 25 piece, platinum limited edition LUC XPS with a brilliant, metallic blue dial. Like the earlier limited edition in rose gold, this watch has the Poinçon de Genève (Geneva Seal) as well as COSC certification. Inside is the calibre LUC 96.01-L, which is a variant of the cal. 1.96 which launched the LUC line.  

The LUC XPS Poinçon de Genève has a 39.5 mm case that is just 7.13 mm high. The case back is platinum with a hand engraved Geneva Seal logo. As is the case with the higher end Chopard LUC watches, this offers a superbly finished movement at a fair price relative to the competition. – SJX

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