Called the Lady Arpels Ronde des Papillons, the new piece grabbed plenty of attention when it was presented at the recent SIHH fair in Geneva.
Featuring a white gold case and a bezel set with glittering diamonds, it’s most unusual feature is that instead of traditional hands, it tells the time using three little butterflies and a bird.
Three white gold clouds layered above the watch’s mother-of-pearl main dial feature yellow, red and pink butterflies that move around the dial indicating the minutes while a blue swallow at the bottom indicates the hours.
Explaining the movement, Van Cleef and Arpels says: “Beneath the apparent delicacy of the dial, the retrograde hour, variable speed minutes and animation on demand movement developed exclusively for the Lady Arpels Ronde des Papillons watch is highly sophisticated.
“Virtuoso watchmaking expertise is applied to a ballet of butterflies moving at different speeds. In a one-hour cycle, they accelerate and then slow down again, thanks to an elliptical wheel inside the mechanism.”
A complex animation feature allows the birds to move every time the wearer presses the activation button on the left. After a 10 second flurry of movement, the butterfly “hands” return to indicate the correct time.
Founded by Charles Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef in 1896, Van Cleef & Arpels has grown to become one of the world’s most renowned luxury jewellery brands.