Poetry of Time will showcase all of Van Cleef & Arpels’ greatest hits
Van Cleef & Arpels is renowned for its high jewellery, but for a week and a half in Singapore, the focus is on its timepieces. Taking place from 12 to 20 February at Marina Bay Sands, the Poetry of Time exhibition is a showcase of the Maison’s greatest hits, as well as some of its more current creations—all in front of a backdrop that expresses its Parisian heritage and inspiration.
The Maison is not top-of-the-mind when it comes to watchmaking, and indeed it makes no divers, chronographs, or even small-seconds dress watches. It would be, however, a disservice to dismiss it as a jewellery-maker that dabbles in purely decorative watches. Van Cleef & Arpels’ timepieces are emotive, eclectic, and refreshingly original when it comes to timekeeping, and it is backed up by its own Geneva-based manufacture that develops its own automaton mechanisms alongside its own enamel workshops.
The Pont des Amoureux collection is an exemplar, one that taps into the Maison’s obsession with romance—after all, the brand was born out of the marriage between Alfred Van Cleef and Estelle Arpels. It is available in several seasonal expressions, all with beautifully implemented pastel-shaded grisaille enamel dials. Fashioned in gold is a classically Parisian bridge, and on this bridge stands a male and a female figure that double as retrograde indicators—the lady, on the left, indicates hours, and the man, on the right, stands for the minutes. Twice a day, at the top of the hour at noon and midnight, the figures will stand their closest—whereupon they come together for a kiss. The animation is also available on-demand via pusher. It is no coincidence, by the way, that as the minutes indicator the male figure shoulders most of the burden of movement. That is the sort of thing Van Cleef & Arpels thinks about.
Such animation is also the focal point of the Ballerines Musicales watches, with a musical addition. Upon activation, the sculpted theatre drapes of this collection make way to a rotating scene of ballerinas, set to melody thanks to the mechanism’s integration of a carillon and music box. Dancers a frequent motif for Van Cleef & Arpels, and so are faeries and butterflies. It was the delicate, 33mm in diameter Lady Feerie that won the Ladies’ Complication watch prize at GPHG 2021, which consists of a fairy pointing out the time as she sits on a cloud.
The Planetarium also makes an appearance at the Poetry of Time exhibition, representing the Maison’s astronomical interests—one that finally has some crossover appeal with traditional horological complications. It depicts the Sun, along with Mercury, Venus, and Earth and its moon, all with accurate orbits, so it will indeed take one year for the Earth to complete a revolution. For the 2018 version, the moon now rotates around the Earth as well.
Alongside these collections are numerous high jewellery and secret watches that showcase the longstanding expertise of Van Cleef & Arpels. Even if you’d rather ceramic bezels and water resistance, or perpetual calendars or tourbillons, the Poetry of Time exhibition is well worth the visit. The whimsical and surprisingly technical approach of Van Cleef & Arpels has something to offer any watch connoisseur.
Poetry of Time is happening from 12 to 20 February at Sands Expo Hall B, Marina Bay Sands. Admission is free but strictly by reservation, which you may register here