Butterflies flew into the precious universe of Van Cleef & Arpels at the dawn of the 1920s and firmly established themselves in the artistic vocabulary of the French jewelry house. In recent years, they have adorned not only brooches and branded two-finger rings, but also works of watchmaking. Here winged creatures rarely perform only a decorative function: they flap their wings, imitating hands, move around the dial and even form a whole round dance, in turn counting the minutes, as in the Lady Arpels Ronde des Papillons watches. The 2017 novelty continues the Lady Arpels poetry series for women and develops the general concept of "jewelry that shows time."
The development of the Lady Arpels Papillon Automate took almost six years. The multi-layered relief dial was created in the Campus Horloger workshops in Merens, Canton of Geneva. Several enamel techniques are combined within the 38 mm disc. The flowers are made of champlevé enamel, the leaves are made of stained glass enamel in different shades of green, the moon (with the hour and minute hands visible on its background) is made using the paillonné technique using tiny fragments of gold foil. Add to this a pavé made of diamonds and sapphires in a blue-violet range, as well as a miniature mother-of-pearl sculpture and an engraving on the self-winding rotor on the back. On the precious canvas of the dial, depicting a natural idyll, there is a butterfly with wings made of stained glass enamel in two shades.
© Press Service Van Cleef & Arpels
It would seem that such a beautiful composition is quite enough for the poetic watches of Van Cleef & Arpels. But the masters went even further: the butterfly can move its wings, both on demand (by pressing the button at the 8 o'clock position), and autonomously. Depending on the power reserve, the butterfly makes two to five strokes in a row. When the watch is not on the wrist, the butterfly flaps its wings 19 times per hour at unequal intervals; without additional winding, the spring energy is enough for up to a hundred movements. The rhythm accelerates when the watch is on the wrist: in this case, 19 strokes can be counted in half an hour. The self-winding mechanical movement has two barrels, one of which powers the automaton.>