SIHH 2017: Van Cleef & Arpels, The Grace Of Butterflies

Van Cleef & Arpels is mother nature embodied in elegant watches and graceful jewellery collections. Each piece the Maison creates narrates a story of grace, luck or happiness. This year, we see a beautiful touch fly from butterflies to flowers, ladybugs and the Fée Ondine in perfect sync. Taking our breath away is the Lady Arpels Papillon Automate, a gem straight out of nature. Each and every part of this high-jewellery piece holds a little treasure, whether apparent or secretly tucked under a marvelous facade.


We have seen all sorts of “interactive” or “alive” components in watch dials, but what Van Cleef & Arpels has achieved with this masterpiece is definitely not ‘du deja-vu’. The magnificence of the carefully crafted papillon (butterfly) resides not only in its finesse, but also in its delicate, irregular flutters that give it an-almost-real appearance. The irregular, three to ten minutes intervals are determined by a thirteen sector wheel that rotates once per hour, activating the mechanism. Without intervention and at a constant state of wind, the flutter pattern is repeated every hour. When the watch is on the wrist, the winding rotor moves, and, being linked to the control wheel which turns faster if the movement is sufficient, will cause the butterfly to act more frequently.


The lovely collection offers a unique vision of time, where craft and technical prowess blend in harmony to bring stories to life -literally!