This year, high-end watch & jewelry manufacturer is releasing a dozen of novel women’s watches that combine its expertise in both of these luxury fields. The batch of watches from the Extraordinary Dial collection is inspired by the signs of Western Zodiac which were used by Van Cleef & Arples in one of its collections more than 60 years ago. Each of the twelve creations displays decorative techniques such as sculpting, engraving, enamelling and stone setting and it is restricted to just 22 pieces. Naturally, for each of the zodiac signs, Van Cleef & Arpels has selected a different face that depicts an appropriate scene and symbol which were made with the use of precious and semi-precious materials. Despite the differences, there are also a lot of similarities when it comes to the watches from the Lady Arpels Zodiac Extraordinary Dial series. They all include white gold cases, diamond encrusted bezels and, most importantly, they all run on the same kind of a manually wound mechanical movement that provides indications only for hours and minutes.
Van Cleef & Arpels’s Expertise in Decorative Techniques
As it is common for all timekeepers from the Extraordinary Dial lineage, these twelve newcomers showcase supreme level and a wide range of artistic decorative crafts that were mastered by the Maison’s artisans. Firstly, the artisans create a specific engraving that follows the subject of the piece and is used as a background. The first layer of the dial is then carefully covered with the right shade of transparent enamel. Next, the craftsmen and craftswomen add appropriate motifs which are created with the use of sculpted gold, engraving and stone-setting. Finally, the central motif that depicts each of the twelve signs of the Western Zodiac is coupled with supplementary motifs made of sculpted mother-of-pearls or other semi-precious materials. These elements show objects and phenomenons such as leaves, clouds, flames and waves in order to correspond with the general division of astrological signs which categorizes them in four groups. These are air, fire, water and earth signs.
The Same Cases, Bezels and Movements
Despite the obvious differences of the dozen of watches with zodiac inspired faces, they all share some basic traits. For starters, in each of the instances, the watch is made with a round 18 K white gold housing with the smaller diameter of 38 mm, as it is befitting to a lady’s wrist. Moreover, they all have sapphire crystals encircled with fixed bezels. Regardless of the sign depicted on the face, each of the bezels is encrusted with no less than 53 round diamonds with the total weight of 2.5 carats. On the rear side of the case, there is a screwed section of solid metal with satin brushed finish which includes engravings of the brand’s name, the specific zodiac sign to which the watch is dedicated to, a visual representation of the constellation that bears the name of the sign, as well as the place of the timepiece in the limited series. Finally, all Lady Arpels Zodiac Extraordinary Dial watches are made with the same hand wound calibers that enable only indications for hours and minutes. The presence of only basic functions is quite expected since it enables that the dial is exposed as much as possible. Unfortunately, the manufacturer does not provide any additional information regarding the specific caliber it used in the series nor its detailed traits. The last of the shared characteristic is the addition of a leather strap whose color matches the shade of the enamel on the dial and which locks with a pin buckle.
The entire series of new watches was actually inspired by a jewelry collection that the company first released way back in the 1950s. Since there are twelve zodiac signs, Van Cleef & Arels made the same number of different dials. However, as it has been said, there are four major types of zodiac signs and four matching groups in the series that all consist of three watches. The members within the same group come with the same type of additional motifs, as well as with dials and straps in the matching color.
The first group of fire signs starts with the timekeeper with the reference VCARO4/100 which is dedicated to Aries. It possesses hand-engraved sculpted sections of gold and mother-of-pearl, red enamel on the face, as well as white and yellow round-cut diamonds which are placed on a golden surface in the shape of stars. Other similarly styled models with red enamel and the strap of the same color, as well as flames as an additional motif on the faces are Leo (the VCARO4/500) and Sagittarius (the VCARO4/900).
The second group is with green enamel on the dials, the matching wristlets, as well as a leaf as a supplementary motif. These models are a bit more heterogeneous when it comes to the materials that are used to ornament the face. While Taurus (the VCARO4/200) features lapis-lazuli elements, Capricorn (the VCARO4/A00) showcases yellow diamonds, whereas Virgo (the VCARO4/600) possesses mother-of-pearl elements.
The third trio of air astrological signs is made with cloud sculptures in mother-of-pearl, light blue enamel on the dial and white colored attachments. Additionally, Gemini (VCARO4/300) has stars sculpted of white gold and set with round white diamonds. Aquarius model (VCARO4/500) possesses the same ornaments as the first one in the group in addition to the sections in lapis-lazuli, round white diamonds and stars sculpted of white gold. The third similar model is Libra (the VCARO4/700) which is made with stars made of sculpted red gold, as well as with two types of diamonds: taper-cut and round-cut.
Lastly, we have reached three timekeepers from the Lady Arpels Zodiac Extraordinary Dial series which are made with deep blue enameled dials and straps and wave motifs made of mother-of-pearl. Clearly, these are three water signs. Pisces model (the VCARO4/C00) adds stars sculpted from red gold and encrusted with yellow round diamonds. The second within the final group is Scorpio (the VCARO4/700) which likewise includes pear-cut diamonds and opal sections. Finally, there is also Cancer model (the VCARO4/400) which features pink gold sculpting and pink sapphires.