For more than a century, dance has occupied a special place in Van Cleef & Arpels’ heart. Louis Arpels was known to be a patron of the arts and frequented ballet performances at Palais Garnier, a stone’s throw from the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique at Place Vendôme.
In 1941, the maison introduced its first ballerina clips. With their ornate gem-set tutus and elaborate head ornaments, these lithe feminine figures captivated fans of the jewelled arts and quickly became coveted treasures.
Over the years, Van Cleef & Arpels added more dancers from other cultures into its precious dance troupe. Its dazzling tribute to the art extended beyond figurative portrayals. There were also abstract designs that recall delicate drapery and a dancer’s limber moves, thanks to exquisite goldsmithing work and innovative gem-setting techniques.
Today, the maison enriches its dance universe with two new Extraordinary Dials watches: Lady Danse and Lady Danse Duo. Inspired by Broadway in the 1950s and 1960s, when musicals were a central feature in American culture, both watches feature dancers in contemporary settings. Set with a mixture of precious and ornamental stones, each dial is an exquisite work of art that is testament to the maison’s high jewellery savoir faire.
On Lady Danse, a solo dancer performs an arabesque against a graphic backdrop made from slivers of turquoise, lapis lazuli, chrysoprase and mother-of-pearl. Each piece of hardstone had to be individually cut and polished before being carefully assembled in a manner that would best convey volume and depth.
The dancer’s frock, fashioned in the swing dress style from that era, is hemmed in yellow gold and covered in snow-set rubies that match her hand-painted crimson shoes. The female dancer is joined by a partner in Lady Danse Duo. Twirling on steps carved from lapis lazuli, they are accompanied by a trio of dancers dancing in sync on the other side of the stage.
Against a mother-of-pearl background decorated with blocks of turquoise and diamond-set polished gold, these characters come to life through the art of miniature painting.
Remaining faithful to the maison’s poetic vision of time, both watches are driven by manual-winding movements. These brilliant examples of horological art combine innovation and fantasy, offering watch collectors a chance to dream and revel in the present.