Van Cleef & Arpels have long been known for their exceptional transformable pieces. These pieces are often both technological feats — thanks to the unique, intricate methods used — as well as landmarks of creative design.
The maison’s latest collection of secret watches — the perfect companion for the modern woman and her versatile needs — is no different.
Created in 1934, the Ludo collection was named for one of Van Cleef & Arpels’ founders: Louis Arpels, the youngest of the founding Arpels brothers. Pieces in the collection are a tribute to Louis’ youthful energy, as well as his penchant for abstract, Art Deco-inspired designs — leanings best seen in the 5 new Ludo secret watches.
Much like the original creations, the bracelets evoke the shape of belt — one of the most sought-after fashion accessories for daring women of the 1930s — thanks to its flexible mesh, which is punctuated by a jewel-encrusted motif in place of its buckle.
The first three Ludo Secret watches present a luminous combination of materials. Two models come in yellow gold, with one laden in a gorgeous swathe of sapphires, emeralds and chrysoprase to create an exceedingly harmonious facade. The second yellow gold model brings with it a playful contrast of blue and pink sapphires and a generous lapis lazuli hard stone cabochon at its heart.
But the most stunning of the lot is the model in rose gold, which marries together the boldness of rubies, coral and diamonds to create a striking piece of wrist candy.
In keeping with Van Cleef & Arpels’ tradition of exquisite transformable pieces, the Ludo Secret watches can be worn in a variety of ways. For one, the dial can be replaced by a hexagonal mesh bucket that’s set with precious stones to create a stunning wristlet. The rose timepiece can also be transformed into either a clip or a pendant, one best worn when threaded onto a long chain.
The collection also brings with it two unique Ludo Secret pieces: one in white gold set with sapphires, and the other in rose gold adorned with rubies. These two gorgeous pieces are inspired by the Ludo Hexagone Macarons secret watch from 1941, and bear the storied watch’s signature diamond-encrusted loops on either side of the dial.
These sparkling loops make the perfect frame for the motif at the heart of the watch, which feature either rubies or sapphires in Van Cleef & Arpels’ patented Mystery Setting — the technique that allows for the flawless setting of stones so that no prongs are visible.
To create a piece the Mystery Set requires an extraordinary amount of know-how, one limited to a few rare lapidaries and master jewellers known as the Mains d’Or. And the results on the Ludo Secret watch are stunning: It creates an intensely colourful effect that appears slightly convex to the eye — an effect that serves to echo the bracelet’s generous, sweeping curves, curves that seem to defy both time and space.