They won’t predict your future, but Van Cleef & Arpels’s Zodiac Lumineux timepieces will certainly light up your wrist. Following the release of the men’s Zodiac Lumineux timepieces ($113,000) at SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie) in January, the Swiss watchmaker has unveiled the Lady Arpels Zodiac Lumineux versions ($148,000). Both collections feature the 12 signs of the zodiac and feature the brand’s patented light-on-demand module, which illuminates each zodiac sign’s “stars,” made from enamel beads, on the dial via a pusher button. The technology first debuted in 2016 when it lit up the Aventurine dial of Van Cleef & Arpels’s Midnight Nuit Lumineuse timepiece—also inspired by the heavens.
The beauty of the light-on-demand module is that it’s not battery operated and doesn’t eat up the watch’s power reserve. That means you can show it off as many times as you like, if you don’t mind being that person that strikes up the astrology conversation at a dinner party. (Or, if you’re clever, you might use it as a subtle way to alert your significant other that it’s time to leave while you pretend to play with the watch.) A pusher on the side of the white-gold case of each timepiece activates the lighting system, which you can feel spring into action on the wrist. The light that shows through the enamel beads—which mark the stars on each zodiac sign—shines for just three seconds at a time. The vibration of a ceramic strip is what lights up the four to six LEDs within.
On both the men’s and women’s versions, the enamel bead stars, shaped by hand and mounted on the dial, light up against a midnight-blue pailleté background that highlights the constellations. The women’s zodiac figures, however, are more elaborate in their rendering with white or yellow gold, precious stones, and enamel used to bring to life the signs. Using the expertise of the brand’s enameling experts in Van Cleef’s Meyrin workshops in Switzerland, these dials show off what Van Cleef & Arpels does best. The stones and enamel used correspond to the four elements to which the signs belong—green tones are used for earth signs like Taurus, orange for fire signs like Leo, and gradations of blue and violet for both air and water signs like Libra and Cancer.
Van Cleef & Arpels’s women’s timepieces within its Poetry of Time collection have been outstanding, with stunning dial and enamel work and creative ways of thinking of time—and so have the men’s for that matter. The watchmaker doesn’t play down its poetry in the men’s pieces, and it doesn’t differentiate too greatly between the men’s and women’s pieces save for extra gems and smaller sizing. Earlier this year, the watchmaker unveiled its Lady Arpels Planétarium (chosen as one of the year’s best timepieces for Robb Report’s Best of the Best), which only slightly differed from the men’s Midnight Planétarium version in its platinum case, diamond bezel, diamond- and gem-encrusted oscillating weight, and smaller size.
Van Cleef & Arpels’s inventive ways of telling time are definitely unlike any other, and the Zodiac Lumineux timepieces will certainly be a fun talking point—if not a star—in any collection.