AS VAN CLEEF & ARPELS PRESENTS ITS LATEST NOVELTIES IN THE UAE, PRESIDENT AND CEO NICOLAS BOS TALKS TO A&E ON WHY THESE PIECES ARE SO DIFFERENT FROM ANYTHING ELSE IN THE INDUSTRY.
For 2018 Van Cleef & Arpels dreamed of living in time with the cosmos: capturing the movement of the planets, tracing the constellations and reaping the stars. That dream became reality with the Poetry of Time collection. These rare creations illuminate the twelve constellations of the Zodiac, track the movement of the planets and bring all the magic of the universe to life on the wrist.
Van Cleef & Arpels draws from its history with these magical timepieces inspired by the stars and the universe. The face; a starry sky, tracks the journey of the sun and moon as well as other planets, and the time is told by watching the planets move around the face of the watch. The greatest care has been taken by the watchmakers, jewellers and craftsmen to create something completely unique.
To celebrate the worldwide launch of the Poetry of Time pieces Van Cleef & Arpels hosted an exclusive event in the UAE. Held at the very fitting location of the Sharjah Center for Astronomy & Space Sciences, the presentation was in the presence of Van Cleef & Arpels President and CEO Nicolas Bos. Bos, who has worked in the industry for many years first joined Van Cleef & Arpels as the High Jewellery Maison’s Creative and Marketing Director and has been in his current position since 2013; overseeing all new launches since then. During the global launch A&E sat down with Bos to find out what it is that makes these pieces so unique.
Why did you choose the UAE as the setting for such a beautiful launch?
I visited the universities in Sharjah some time ago and saw the planetarium which we thought was absolutely outstanding. So we said we should definitely do something here at some point. The Middle East in general has become a major market for us and we have a major presence here now. It is as important as Europe, Japan or America.
What’s so special about the collection?
The starting point was asking “what’s fascinating when we look at the skies?” Of course it is the movements, colours and the light – so we asked ourselves how we could integrate that into a watch and still have an element of surprise and playfulness. The whole collection is a tribute to the poetic vision of astronomy and astronomic watches. What we do in the worlds of jewellery and watchmaking is try to be part of a tradition and at the same time explore beyond the boundaries of that tradition. So while astronomic watches are classic, we wanted to see how, while remaining part of that tradition, we could somehow visit it with our codes and a slightly different vision.
From there we chose animations and stories that we could interpret. A lot of them based on history. What’s interesting is that there is a scientific component as well as the idea of precision and accuracy that is associated with watchmaking, but it is always connected with the idea of beauty.
We found the planets quite fascinating and it was very challenging to see how we could bring all this emotion and vision into the limited size of the watch whilst trying to innovate. The pieces are something quite personal as well as playful. The stars that light up on the watches can actually be set to be the stars that are the prominent stars in your own personal zodiac.
Who is your client for this collection?
The offerings are unusual because of the link to astronomy. We have some clients that are watch collectors who are quite intrigued and interested by them. And we have some clients that come from the world of jewellery and creative arts who really look at the pieces for their aesthetics and the jewellery component. We also have clients that are looking for a specific piece but aren’t coming from either of these worlds. So there isn’t one specific profile.
What can you tell us about how Poetry of Time fits with the high jewellery collections?
The Le Secrets collection was not too far from these watches. Using the technique of something that’s hidden to create an element of surprise. There is always an idea in our products to evoke an emotion or create a different way of wearing the pieces. But the technique should never be visible so the Le Secret collection was exactly that – each and every piece had a secret. This could be hidden message, a secret mechanism, a compartment. Something that is always associated with a story.
What is the secret to success at Van Cleef & Arpels?
We try to do things that make sense for us. I believe in stories and inspirations. At the end of the day we are creating pieces that are not necessities in life so you have to have a good reason for the customer to buy them. You need to create an element of surprise and desire. You cannot sell a piece of jewellery or a watch simply on a marketing campaign, you have to create a story and emotion, as well as having the most beautiful pieces you can. Of course if you have a key story which we do, then yes you know that a certain set of clients will be interested.
Do you think the global industry of watchmaking is changing its shape and how are platforms such as SIHH being affected by this?
The industry is evolving for sure. We are not present in SIHH for a very specific reason because we are a retail only company, we don’t have any wholesale. But I am a great supporter of the event and its great quality and I think it is evolving. But it is true that years ago when these fairs were created they were trade fairs for manufacturers or wholesale companies who were meeting with their clients once a year. Then they became platforms of expression and evolved to what they are today. But yes I think it is true that more watch brands have developed their own international footprints and retail teams so it’s a different combination now.
Do you think over-visibility kills desire?
That is a very relevant question today. I honestly don’t know. I think there is quality and there is volume. All communication isn’t good communication. Social media tends to be a diverse form of communication where you don’t necessarily control the image that’s conveyed and the quality of your communication because the person that talks about your product or brand can be anyone. It can be difficult and dangerous and that can kill the desire. On the other hand if you really master or control your communication to make it more visible in the right way – does it kill the desire? I’m not so sure. It forces you to be even more precise and consistent and relevant because it is more visible. So I think at the end of the day, the more visible it is the less you can afford to make a mistake. But I’m not sure that visibility as such is an issue.
What would you still like to achieve at Van Cleef & Arpels?
Plenty of things! I’m very happy with the way the house has continued to develop in the last decade and I guess it will continue to exist and develop and to strengthen the world of jewellery and watch making. There are also other initiatives that are very important to me like L’ecole (the school of jewellery and arts, supported by Van Cleef & Arpels) – which I think is a very important component of the future. We want to play more of a role when it comes to education.
We want to preserve craftmanship and trades in the long term and continue to support the talents and educate. We want to support professional schools and bring young talent to these types of crafts. I think we can continue to play that role, it’s a very important component that will be and can be even more integrated into the company’s daily life.
The Zodiac Lumineux offers an invitation to live in harmony with the rhythm of the cosmos. The watches mimic the sparkle of the stars illuminating twelve signs of the Western Zodiac. The astrological theme has been one that is close to the heart of the Maison ever since the 1950s. It comes to life in twelve dials, each representing a different Zodiac sign. For women, the Lady Arpels Zodiac Lumineux comes in a smaller 38mm diameter case in white gold set with diamonds.
The Midnight Planetarium features both refined aesthetics and an automatic movement developed exclusively for the Maison; the Lady Arpels Planetarium watch depicts the Sun, Mercury, Venus and Earth as well as the moon. Each planet moves around the dial in real time, orbiting the dial in 88 days for Mercury, 224 days for Venus and 365 days for Earth. The moon also rotates around the earth at actual speed. The 38mm diameter case comes in white gold and is set with diamonds. The piece is finished with a blue glitter alligator strap to match the dial or a bracelet entirely set with diamonds for a high jewellery option.
These incredibly delicate watches are created using extra special materials. The Sun, the central point of the watches is made from pink gold, while the rotating planets are created from pink mother-of-pearl, turquoise green enamel bead and brilliant-cut diamond. To evoke the depth of the cosmos, seven aventurine disks are placed in concentric circles on the dial, rotating individually via the watch movement. The planets and shooting star move at real time speed. These magical watches display the depths of watchmaking and fine jewellery craftsmanship.