Best of the Best 2011: Women’s Watches: Van Cleef & Arpels Le Pont des Amoureux

Collectors have only recently elevated Van Cleef & Arpels to the rank of serious watchmaker; yet the revered jeweler now combines inventive movement-making with its own distinctive artisanship to produce some of the industry’s most compelling timepieces on an almost annual basis. Last year’s Van Cleef & Arpels Le Pont des Amoureux (877.826.2533, www.vancleef.com; $108,000) ups the jewelry house’s game both technically and artistically. The dial is made with the demanding contre-jour enamel technique, which was developed in Limoges, France, in the 17th-century and had never before been employed for a wristwatch. Independent master Jean-Marc Wiederrecht specially geared the retrograde dial to enable the hands, which are shaped like two lovers, to meet each night at midnight. The brilliant enamel work on the watch’s dial greatly enlivens the original, romantic concept behind Le Pont des Amour­eux, which any wearer—even if the movement and the creative decorative details go unnoticed—will appreciate as a tender narrative told through mechanics.

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