Women’s Timepiece of the year: Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Planétarium
It is unusual for a watch company to offer a high-level complication—especially one originally designed for men—to its female clientele. In the case of the Lady Arpels Planétarium from Van Cleef & Arpels, the miniaturized, astronomically correct solar system in precious stones and aventurine is probably even more effective for women because of its delicate proportions and coloration.
Created in collaboration with Dutch watchmaker Christiaan van der Klaauw, who is renowned for his expertise in astronomical timepieces, the complication illustrates the sun
(in pink gold) and its closest planets—Mercury (pink mother-of-pearl), Venus (green enamel), and Earth (turquoise)—as well as Earth’s natural satellite, the moon (diamond). Each celestial body has been carefully calibrated to rotate around the sun at its real-life speed, meaning that Mercury orbits in 88 days, Venus in 224 days, and Earth in 365 days. Additionally, the moon is set to orbit around Earth every 29.5 days.
One of the design’s strongest features is the use of aventurine for the seven concentric rings on the dial that twinkle like the night sky. An outer ring bears Arabic numerals and a shooting-star marker that indicates the time. But the watch is about more than its stunning face: Flip the piece over to see a larger version of Earth in turquoise next to a crescent moon set with serti neige diamonds that rests on the oscillating weight, as well as the French names of the planets. Also on the caseback are two apertures that show the year, month, and date.
Exquisite for its beauty and complicated expertise, the Lady Arpels Planétarium will appeal to jewelry connoisseurs and serious watch collectors alike. ($255,000 with an alligator strap; $345,000 with a diamond bracelet)