The Art of Craftsmanship at Van Cleef & Arpels


During the recent Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, I met with Jean Bienaymé, International Marketing Director at Van Cleef & Arpels.

What are the key highlights among your offerings this year?

We have a strong focus on ladies and jewelry watches. We have two high jewelry timepieces that were first imagined as part of previous collections, “Le Bal de Legend” and the “Palais de la Chance,” but sometimes it takes two to three years of technical thinking and actual craftsmanship to achieve the final piece. In particular, the Carpe Koi bracelet that uses 8,000 colored stones, a mix of yellow sapphires, spessartite garnets, diamonds, and tourmalines, and required 3,500 hours of work. Technically it is a rather complicated piece, with an extraordinary finish, even from the inside. Along with the high jewelry timepieces, this year we’re bringing back the Cadenas watch, which was first created in 1935 and is believed to have been inspired by the Duchess of Windsor; it has a very strong and very unique design, and like the Zip in our high jewelry, it is a really a timeless design, maybe because for its time it was very avant-garde.

How are you re-actualizing the design?

The case remains the same, we didn’t touch it, but we’ve enlarged the dial to make it easier to read the time. We’ve also made some modifications to the clasp with a hidden polished side that allows for personalized engraving. We’ve also worked on the serti, using a serti neige, which is a signature of the house and which uses different sizes of diamonds put next to each other more randomly creating a particular dazzle. I think it modernizes the piece a little bit.



Which métiers d’art are you using this year?

The cabochonné enameling, which we used previously and which consists of applying several layers of enamel without polishing them, to create a rounded surface – we find that this technique is particularly suited to help create volumes, in this case to the flowers. At Van Cleef, we’re not trying to offer new métiers d’art all the time. What we’re trying to do is find the best technique for the story we want to tell. In this case, there are several flowers on the dial that you need to notice and differentiate, and to define them better, cabochonné enameling works best.

What design trends do you see?

I think you can see more and more interesting ladies watches, probably because the men’s market is quite saturated.

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