Several of the new creations presented this year by Van Cleef & Arpels at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie 2016 had butterflies as their main theme. The one that most impressed us is the Lady Arpels Ronde des Papillons, a fascinating timepiece that brings together three coloured butterflies and make them playfully fly around the dial. Their circling dance between the clouds sets the tempo for the minutes, while the hours take flight in the wake of a swallow, symbol of joyful portent.
With this aerial ballet, new Van Cleef & Arpels replica watches represents the passing of time with a delicate poetry unique to the Maison. It is not by chance that the watch is part of a collection named Poetic Complications.
The self-winding mechanical movement – with a retrograde jumping hour, variable speed minutes and a patent-pending on-demand animation module – was developed exclusively for the Lady Arpels Ronde des Papillons watch and offers 40 hours of power reserve.
The ballet of butterflies moving at different speeds required special copy watchmaking expertise to be developd. In a one-hour cycle, they accelerate and then slow down again, thanks to an elliptical wheel inside the mechanism.
To measure the minutes, each butterfly appears in turn between the clouds, then disappears to make way for its successor. In keeping with the Maison’s retrograde displays, the hours are indicated by the swallow, which points the tip of its wing at the twelve consecutive hours before returning to its initial position.
The dial can also come to life on demand via an animation of some 10 seconds. At the push of a button, the butterflies set off on a dance around the clouds. They then calmly resume their flight, allowing for the time that has passed during the animation.
The beautiful dial is a blend of savoir-faire. The luminosity of the sky is suggested by a background of mother-of-pearl adorned with bluish shades. Floating at different heights, mother-of-pearl clouds compose a subtle palette of greys.
The flying creatures stand out against it, their colours produced by miniature painting.
The Swiss fake watches dial’s story continues on the back of the case with the engraving of a swallow flying through the skies. A sapphire-glass window displays the oscillating weight adorned by three lacquered butterflies.