In Geneva this past January, Van Cleef & Arpels launched a new Poetic Complication timepiece for women, the Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée. The dial features a ballerina, whose tutu, is actually a retrograde time indicator. Due to the massive amount of energy required to power the display, time is only available on demand. Meaning, you have to push a button at 8 o’clock to actually read the time. Once pressed the veil on the left rises to the current hour and the veil on the right rises to the current minute. Then, after holding in position, both veils fall simultaneously to their orginal starting position. (Watch it in action below.)
At the Salon International de La Haute Horology in Geneva, January 2012, Van Cleef & Arpels revealed its most technical complication yet - the Poetic Wish (ladies' and men's version). Each version features a retrograde time hours and minutes indication and a 5-minute repeater.
On demand, with the turn of the crown at 2 o'clock, three automatons depict a scene on the dial. The figure (man or woman) moves towards the center of the dial with the hours, accompanied by a mother-of-pearl cloud coming from the opposite direction. When they meet, a shooting star emerges and shows the minutes (a kite takes he place of the star in the ladies' version). These actions are enhanced by the chiming of the hours and minutes.
During SIHH 2011, in January, I had a chance to visit with Van Cleef & Arpels for the first time. They produce high jewelry timepieces, some even have complications, such as the Poetic Complication "5 Weeks in a Balloon," which has retrograde hours and minutes (pictured above, and demonstrated in the short video below). This particular piece has a mechanical movement sourced from one of the respected watch brands within the Richemont Group (which owns Van Cleef & Arpels). But that is all that is shared, the dial and jewel settings were all done by Van Cleef & Arpels. Overall, the pieces from Van Cleef & Arpels are very unique and luxurious, especially the complicated jewel settings. In fact, most of the timepieces they unveiled this year, are powered by quartz movements (even some costing $500,000). This shows, that the brand's focus, first and foremost, is haute jewelry.