Blending music and motion, Lady Arpels Ballerines Musicales Émeraude, Rubis and Diamant watches, white diamond-set gold case (44.5 mm), dial in miniature painting and engraving, manual-winding movement, retrograde time indication, on-demand musical animation. Numbered edition.
In its quest for excellence with a taste for beauty and harmony, Van Cleef & Arpels has drawn boundless inspiration from the world of dance over the decades. Today, the art of ballet imparts an aura of grace into three new watches reflecting the vision of Poetry of Time unique to the Maison. For the first time, Lady Arpels Ballerines Musicales creations blend music and motion, bringing to life a veritable experience of sight and sound. True to the Van Cleef & Arpels tradition of excellence, each timepiece combines watchmaking expertise, mastery of fine crafts and jewelry savoir-faire to capture the full enchantment of music and dance.
The enchantment of ballet on the wrist
To reflect the full wonder of ballet, Van Cleef & Arpels recreated the three-dimensional tableau of an actual theater stage. A diamond-set upper dial, representing a sparkling chandelier and lavish curtains, illuminates the dial, awash in color thanks to the fine crafts dear to the Maison: sculpted, engraved and hand-painted draperies reveal ethereal ballerinas in miniature painting. Each piece features its own blend of stones and motifs, an allusion to the three movements of Jewels. The Lady Arpels Ballerine Musicale Émeraude watch displays green nuances, while the Lady Arpels Ballerine Musicale Rubis timepiece shines in elegant tones of red. The Lady Arpels Ballerine Musicale Diamant watch sparkles with intense white, blue and golden hues. On the upper crown of each creation, a precious stone reflects the color of the dial. The story continues on the back of the watch with an engraved bas-relief illustration portraying a ballerina dancing in front of the Van Cleef & Arpels 5th Avenue boutique in New York, where Claude Arpels hosted George Balanchine in 1966 for a private viewing of the Maison’s creations.
The magic of the stage
Enriching the Poetic Complications collection, each of these three creations evokes a chapter of Jewels, recreating the poetry of the costumes and music through a visual and musical animation. The dial comes to life and the melody rings out, transporting the eyes and ears into an enchanting world of ballet. The dial awakes on demand: the curtain opens to reveal five ballerinas draped in tutus and colors suggesting the different gemstones and traditions of dance that inspired George Balanchine. As this scene appears, the music starts to play. Thanks to a veritable technical achievement, the melodies associated with the three acts resonate with the crystalline tones of a carillon and a music box. The innovative combination and harmonization of these two instruments treats the ear to themes by Gabriel Fauré, Igor Stravinsky and Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The watch case amplifies the melody offered by the carillon and music box, transmitting it through a surface expertly paved with diamonds. To heighten the listening experience, each watch comes with a birchwood and walnut marquetry case, created in partnership with luthiers and acoustics experts, and enriched with an electronic amplifier. This project, conceived a decade ago, required seven years of development work for the manual-winding mechanical movement and the on-demand animation. Perpetuating a tradition dear to the Maison, the watches also feature a retrograde function to tell the time. On the top of the dial, a star – in tribute to the Paris Opera’s “danseuses étoiles” – displays the passage of time on a graduated 12-hour scale.
The poetry of motion and music
The music box is made up of a 10-blade keyboard, plucked by pins located on the underside of the rotating disc that presents the visual animation. The four gongs of the carillon, struck by as many hammers, offer additional notes. The two instruments had to be carefully tuned, like a piano, to ensure perfect pitch for the 20- to 25-second melodies. To respect the rhythm of each arrangement, a centrifugal regulation mechanism maintains constant speed regardless of the tension in the animation barrel. The piece can thus be played three times in a row with flawless melodic quality. In addition to the technical exploit of playing two different instruments inside a watch case, Van Cleef & Arpels also took up the challenge of reproducing the complex melodies of three classical music themes: Pelléas et Mélisande, Op. 80 by Gabriel Fauré (1898), Capriccio for piano and orchestra by Igor Stravinsky (1929) and Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3 (1875). The Maison worked closely with Michel Tirabosco to simplify and adapt the arrangements to just two instruments. A Swiss concert musician, born in Rome and famous for his mastery of the pan flute, he was intimately involved throughout the development process. In the heart of each creation, the rich tones of the carillon and music box accurately and delicately relay the melody and harmonies. For example, the movement of the Lady Arpels Ballerine Musicale Rubis watch performs Stravinsky’s Capriccio with no fewer than 92 notes: 69 played by the music box, and 23 by the carillon.
Price: CHF 438,000 (~ USD 468,00)