Van Cleef & Arpels takes its inspiration from the heavens for its latest masterpiece, the Midnight Planetarium Poetic Complication. The maison is well known for its mastery of watchmaking’s metiers d’arts, including enameling, engraving and gemsetting. Together, these crafts combine with a “poetic” movement in a piece that reduces the scale of the heavens to the dimensions of a wristwatch.
The Midnight Planetarium replicates the movement of six planets around the sun and their position at any given time. Each of the planets rotates at its own speed, on an individual disk, around the sun: it takes Saturn over 29 years to make a complete circuit of the dial; it takes Jupiter about 12 years, Mars 687 days, and so forth. The planets are depicted using a selection of hard stones, including turquoise for Earth, serpentine for Mercury, chloromelanite for venus, red jasper for Mars, blue agate for Jupiter and sugilite for Saturn. The sun, at the center, is rendered in pink gold.
Telling the time on the watch is done via a shooting star located at the outer edge of the dial. The story continues on the back of the dial, where the oscillating weight is engraved with a starry composition. Months are indexed along the inside bezel, and indicated with a red arrow. There is also a way to set the watch to indicate a special day, on which the Earth on the dial aligns itself with a lucky star engraved on the inside of the sapphire crystal.