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Piaget Van Cleef & Arpels
With Valentine’s Day marked in bold in the calendar, it's inevitable to start thinking about the best possible gifts. Whether for a loved one or for yourself, a watch holds a timeless significance. In this day and age, when time is ubiquitous, displayed by a multitude of devices, a watch embodies pure pleasure. Furthermore, certain timepieces transcend mere function, evolving into exquisite works of art and jewelry. This sentiment perfectly encapsulates the watches I've selected for this article – two examples of artisanal craftsmanship and two more accessible yet equally stunning beauties for the wrist.

Piaget Aura High Jewelry watchBorderline Madness – Piaget Aura High Jewelry watch (Mechanical White Gold Sapphire Diamond Ultra-Thin Watch)

Since 1957, Piaget has seamlessly intertwined high watchmaking with high jewelry. This unparalleled expertise reached new heights in 1989, with the introduction of the Aura high jewelry watch. Entirely adorned with meticulously calibrated baguette-cut diamonds, this timepiece exuded an irresistible charm and vitality. The name “Aura” not only captured the luminous design of the watch but also embodied the daring spirit of those who adorned it.

Piaget Aura High Jewelry watchRef. G0A48139 features a fully integrated case and bracelet, a development that Piaget had been refining since the 1960s. However, the seamless, fully articulated design of the bracelet represented a major breakthrough in the company’s gem-setting expertise.

Piaget Aura High Jewelry watchThe elegance of the Piaget Aura High Jewelry watch is enhanced by the combination of diamonds and sapphires. Once again, the baguette-cut stones are meticulously cut to harmonize with the shape of the watch, with its integrated case and bracelet. The blue sapphires exhibit a beautiful color gradient, a meticulous design process that took over eight months to carefully source and select the perfect stones. Ultra-thin claws create an almost invisible setting, allowing maximum light to illuminate the creation.

Piaget Aura High Jewelry watchA radiant sunburst setting on the dial further accentuates its brilliance. With over 260 hours of gem-setting craftsmanship, the watch is available in two different sizes and two unique color gradients. Powered by the ultra-thin Manufacture Piaget 430P hand-wound mechanical movement, the Aurora offers class and excellence not only for the exterior but also for the interior: thermally blued screws, circular Côtes de Genève, hand-beveled bridges, and a circular-grained mainplate.

Altiplano Moonphase watchDiscrete poetic complication – Piaget Altiplano Moonphase watch (Automatic Rose Gold Diamond Moon Phase Watch)

On the extensive list of visually striking complications, the monophase is the undisputed champion of poetic complications.  For more than a century, Piaget’s expertise has been based on the Maison’s ability to combine technical precision with beauty, using the former to allow the latter a rich creative expression. Although the Altiplano has been around since 1998, the moonphase complication joined the collection at the end of 2022.

Altiplano Moonphase watchRef. G0A47104 features an 18K rose gold case with 62 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.87 carats) set on the bezel. The watch face is elegantly decorated with gold baton indexes placed on an engraved white mother-of-pearl base plate (approx. 3.23 carats). The pattern visible on the dial is inherited from the Altiplano Moonphase High Jewelry version. While this rendition is considerably more understated, it features a gold aperture adorned with 12 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.07 carats) which displays the moonphase in vivid Superluminova.

Altiplano Moonphase watchThe sapphire crystal caseback reveals Piaget’s Caliber 580P Altiplano Manufacture automatic mechanical movement. In keeping with the front of the watch, the deep blue lacquered moon-shaped oscillating weight pays tribute to the enigmatic Moon.  Once again, we find remarkable finishes that exemplify Piaget’s expertise as a watchmaking manufacturer.

Van Cleef & Arpels Ludo SecretHeritage and craftsmanship – Van Cleef & Arpels Ludo Secret

Since its establishment in 1906 on Paris’ Place Vendôme, Van Cleef & Arpels has been inspired by the world of couture, paying homage to its birthplace. Over the years, the Maison has translated the fluidity of fabric into gold and precious materials, resulting in creations of timeless elegance.

Van Cleef & Arpels Ludo SecretWith the Ludo Secret watches, Van Cleef & Arpels reintroduced the Ludo bracelet, one of the Maison’s iconic creations from the 1930s. Echoing the essence of the original design, the timepiece emulates the form of a belt with its supple mesh, adorned with a jewel-encrusted motif instead of a buckle. Did you know that the Ludo bracelet is named after Louis Arpels’ nickname?

Van Cleef & Arpels Ludo SecretInspired by the 1941 Ludo Hexagone Macaron secret watch, this artistic creation is enlivened with loops on either side of the dial. It frames a motif in Mystery Set™ emeralds, creating an intense color effect. Slightly convex, the motif echoes the generous curves of the case and the rounded bracelet.

Van Cleef & Arpels Ludo SecretThe use of gold to reinterpret the fluidity of fabric posed a significant technical challenge for the Maison’s workshops. To create the illusion of a delicate weave, the hexagonal motifs of the watches were meticulously assembled and individually adjusted by hand, ensuring optimal articulation.

Van Cleef & Arpels Ludo SecretThis fantastic construction holds time captive. Only to be revealed by a lever. Hexagonal mother-of-pearl tiles continue the bracelet motif on the dial. A pear-shaped diamond adorns the already precious watch face.

Van Cleef & Arpels PerléeWhere watchmaking meets jewelry  – Van Cleef & Arpels Perlée

Another classic collection by Van Cleef & Arpels, the Perlée boasts a round shape framed by a double row of gold pearls, with mirror-polished, diamond-paved white gold on the side. Beneath the sapphire crystal, the dials are decorated with pavé-set diamonds capturing the light to create an intense sparkle. A total of 297 stones weighing 1.67 carats adorn this magnificent sparkle. A push-button, discreetly positioned behind the case, allows the time to be adjusted and remains invisible while the watch is worn.

Van Cleef & Arpels Perlée

Ref. VCARPBKF00 comes equipped with an interchangeable blue alligator strap, with the option to select a second one from the collection. For those seeking a jewelry-inspired aesthetic, a bracelet made entirely of articulated gold pearls is also available, mirroring the beaded contour of the case. This bracelet moves seamlessly with the wrist, like a second skin, ensuring that the Perlée watch provides optimal comfort. The flexibility of the straps allows for effortless customization to suit the wearer’s mood.

Van Cleef & Arpels PerléeRegrettably, like the Ludo, the Perlée is powered by a quartz movement. This decision was influenced by the limited space available for the movement inside the watch. However, the quartz movement offers the benefit of a prolonged battery life, allowing the watches to be worn at all times without the need for frequent setting and winding via the delicate crowns.

 

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