WatchPro at SIHH: Van Cleef & Arpels

The star of Van Cleef & Arpels SIHH presentation was undoubtedly the Lady Arpels Ronde des Papillons, an elegant, animated flight of fancy which concealed the considerable technical prowess needed to display the time using a rotating bird in flight and three different butterflies.

But it was another watch from the brand which seemed to steal all the headlines, and unusually for Van Cleef & Arpels it was a watch for men.

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The development of the smart watch sector has prompted numerous research and development  concept projects across the watch industry. While the smart watch doesn’t necessarily suit every watch brand (or for that matter even many watch brands) there seems to be a desire to imbue luxury watches with technology, and if not advanced technology, then at the very least something electric.

Bulgari were straight out of the gate at last year’s Basel with a NFC-equipped concept watch used to safeguard personal data, HYT recently released a dynamo-powered illuminated watch and Piaget has revisited the quartz-regulated mechanical watch a la Seiko’s Spring Drive.

Van Cleef & Arpels has created a concept watch designed with its Poetic Complication collection in mind, that uses LEDs mounted behind diamonds to illuminate a set pattern, in this case a constellation. The LED’s are briefly powered with a press of a pusher which – and here’s the clever part – compresses a strip of piezoelectric ceramic to generate the electricity necessary for a few seconds of illumination.

The Midnight Nuit Lumineuse is still a concept and so it will be interesting to see how technology, beyond the centuries-old wheels and pinions of mechanical watchmaking, will be integrated into luxury watches.

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