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Best of the Best 2013: Women's Watches: Conceptual Innovation: Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Poetic Wish

  • James D. Malcolmson

Van Cleef & Arpels has established a niche for itself in horology by stretching imaginative boundaries with its elaborate and charming concepts. Poetic Wish (price available upon request), the house’s latest collaboration with the independent watchmaker Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, reaffirms Van Cleef & Arpels’s unique position in the industry by placing a complex mechanical system in the service of artistic fancy. A small-scale five-minute repeater combines with automatons on the dial to create a time-on-demand system, in which a three-dimensional, gold-engraved figure of a girl flying a kite over Paris indicates the hours (the girl) and minutes (the kite). Wiederrecht cleverly harnesses part of the minute-repeater system to position the automatons at the appropriate spot along the time scale. This sophisticated system—parts of which are elaborately rendered in frill-like patterns—is discreetly concealed beneath the richly decorated dial. Designed for the wearer who only occasionally checks the time, the watch is itself a poetic statement about time—and the luxury of having a little more of it on one’s hands.(877.826.2533, www.vancleef-arpels.com