May 24, 2017
Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Planetarium on the wrist.
Midnight Planetarium Poetic Complication in pink gold case, 44mm diameter.
Self-winding mechanical movement with a Christiaan van der Klaauw module developed exclusively for Van Cleef & Arpels.
Dial: pink gold, aventurine, serpentine, chloromelanite, turquoise, red jasper, blue agate, and sugilite.
The watch was three years in the making.
Even the rotor has stars on it.
—ROBERTA NAAS, ATimelyPerspective.com
It’s been an incredible week of astronomical watches on ATimelyPerspective.com, but now we bring you the piece de resistance: the enchanting Van Cleef & Arpels Poetic Astronomy™ watch. We love this timepiece, and even though it could cost the price of a small house, you get the reality of the solar system on your wrist! The only thing is, since the rotation around the sun of the six three-dimensional planets depicted on this dial reflects reality, Saturn will only circle the dial once every 29 years! Patience is a virtue here.
Van Cleef & Arpels is no stranger to trying to tame the heavens and bring them to wrist proportions. This brand embarked on the project a decade ago, and has unveiled such astronomical beauties as the Lady Arpels Day Night and the Midnight in Paris, among others, in its Poetic Astronomy line. Now, the brand unveils the Midnight Planetarium watch—with a stunning aventurine dial and a three-dimensional solar system.
To create this astonishing poetic Complication watch, the brand turned to the master of astronomical timepieces—Christiaan van der Klaauw (whom we wrote about recently on ATimelyPerspective.com). With van der Klaauw, Van Cleef & Arpels created the highly complex 396-part self-winding movement with a dedicated planetarium module that moves each planet in real-time rotation. The watch features six miniaturized planets arranged around the sun in their correct lineup: Earth, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Not only is the positioning of the planets correct, but their rotation around the sun (the dial) is accurate, as well. While Saturn will rotate only once in a little over 29 years, Jupiter will take nearly 12 years, Mars will rotate in 687 days (just under two years), Earth in 365 days, Mercury rotates the dial every 224 days and Venus will rotate every 88 days.
The stunning Extraordinary Dial™ of the captivating watch is aventurine and each of the planets is created using a precious stone: Earth is turquoise, Mercury is serpentine, Venus is chloromelanite, Mars is red jasper, Jupiter is blue agate, and Saturn is stunning sugilite. The sun is created in 18-karat gold. Each element is fixed on its own aventurine disk and then set into concentric alignment.
Reading the time on this beauty is simple: a shooting star on the periphery marks it for you. Located at the outer edge of the dial, the star completes its circuit in 24 hours. The day, month, and year can be viewed through two apertures on the dial, and through the transparent sapphire caseback, one can view the stunning rotor-embellished with stars. There is also a tiny extra surprise (typical of Van Cleef & Arpels), using a rotating bezel, the wearer can select a special lucky day by positing a red triangle against a graduated calendar, and on that day, the Earth will move to position directly below the star engraved on the sapphire crystal.
Nicolas Bos, CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels, told ATimelyPerspective in an exclusive interview that the watch movement was three years in the making. “We knew we wanted to add new chapters to our Poetic Complications stories, as we always love to reinforce our identity and tell intricate stories. Everyone loves the heavens, the moon and sun. Having it in reality on the wrist is like a dream come true.”
This dream come true, created in a numbered edition, could be yours for the price of $245,000, or with a bezel set with baguette-cut diamonds for $330,000. Watch the video below, and reach for the stars.
Founder and editor-in-chief of ATimelyPerspective.com, Roberta Naas is a veteran award-winning journalist in the watch industry with more than 25 years of experience. She was the first woman watch editor in the US market—breaking in to an “all boys network” with a pioneering spirit that would be her signature to this day. Naas brings responsible, factual—yet always timely and insightful—reporting of the watch industry to the forefront.