The new Planétarium Automaton by Van Cleef & Arpels represents the pinnacle in crafting astronomical timepieces.
In 2014, the Maison set its eye on the long-standing tradition of figurative reproductions of the heavens and worked on reducing the dimensions of the planetarium to fit them to the scale of the wrist. This gave rise to the Midnight Planétarium watch, which depicts the trajectories of the planets in the Solar System.
The masculine model was complemented by a feminine version in 2018, a High Jewelry watch in 2021, and by an automaton of important dimensions in 2022. Enriching this year its Planétarium collection, Van Cleef & Arpels presents a new version of its Extraordinary Object, interpreted in a combination of materials never seen before.
Measuring 50cm in height and 66.5cm in diameter, the Planétarium automaton showcases the display of celestial bodies: the Sun, the Earth, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
Each heavenly body moves at its genuine speed of rotation, carrying out a complete orbit in 88 days for Mercury, 224 days for Venus, 365 days for the Earth, 687 days for Mars, 11.86 years for Jupiter, and 29.5 years for Saturn. As it does on the collection’s feminine creations, the Moon circles the Earth in 27.3 days, animating the object with perceptible movement day after day.
This decorative object is fitted with a planétarium module, along with an on-demand animation allowing the dance of the orbs to be replayed at will, developed specifically for Van Cleef & Arpels in collaboration with the CompliTime team.
Beneath the automaton’s glass globe – blown specially for the object at the Fluid workshop in France’s Belle-Île – a poetic scene comes alive.
When the animation starts, a shooting star in gold, diamonds and Mystery Set sapphires and emeralds appears from a small door and circles the dial to indicate the hours. It sweeps the planets along in a veritable ballet – accompanied by a melody specially created in partnership with Michel Tirabosco, Swiss musician and concert artist.
Every second planet moves in the opposite direction to their natural orbit, bringing a fairy-tale poetry to the ensemble. On the base of the object, several dials follow one another: hours/minutes, day/night, perpetual calendar indicating the day, month and year, and finally power reserve. A door also allows to observe the automaton’s 15 chimes.
To recreate the wonder inspired by gazing at the heavens, Van Cleef & Arpels has paid particular attention to selecting and working the materials, combining precious and ornamental stones. The Sun reveals a heart highlighted by yellow sapphires, spessartite garnets and diamonds, set on 500 gold stems endowing it with an effect of depth and lightness.
When the automaton comes to life, it quivers as a result of a trembleur in the mechanism. This jewelry technique enables the motif to vibrate at the slightest movement, accentuating the sparkle of the stones.
Different three-dimensional planets are arranged around the Sun. Mercury is represented by a chrysoprase bead surrounded by white gold, sapphires and diamonds, while Venus offsets the shades of rose quartz with those of yellow and white gold and pink sapphires.
Earth gives pride of place to turquoise, surrounded by a jewelry structure in white gold, sapphires, tsavorite garnets and diamonds. The glow of the Moon is evoked by a moonstone surrounded by white gold, yellow gold and diamonds, which contrast with the glittery black of the object.
Red jasper lends its warm tones to Mars, its intense hues accentuated by the association with rose gold and pink sapphires.
Lastly, Jupiter is adorned with a heart in brown-toned jasper and a border in yellow and white gold, sapphires and diamonds, while Saturn showcases obsidian, its rings blending white and yellow gold with sapphires and diamonds.
Suggesting the depth of the heavens, fifteen black aventurine glass discs sprinkled with diamonds are positioned concentrically within the dial, seven of them individually animated by the mechanism.
The planets thus move at their own rhythms within a glittering setting. The ensemble inspires a dual emotion, suspended between immersion in the universe and the beauty of the craftsmanship.
Model: Van Cleef & Arpels Planétarium Automaton
Height: 50cm, length: 66.5cm (doors closed) or 108cm (doors open)
Movement and functions
Automaton and mechanical movements including a planétarium and 11 other modules such as hour/minute display, perpetual calendar, 15-day power reserve indicator
Melody created specifically for this object thanks to a carillon with bells and hammers
Base: Yellow gold, white gold, diamonds, black aventurine glass, black ebony, white holly, miniature painting, glass, aluminum, brass, black and bronze PVD, goat leather
The Sun: Yellow gold, rose gold, yellow sapphires, spessartite garnets, diamonds
Mercury: White gold, sapphires, diamonds, chrysoprase
Venus: Yellow gold, white gold, pink sapphires, rose quartz
The Moon: White gold, yellow gold, diamonds, moon stone
The Earth: White gold, sapphires, tsavorite garnets, diamonds, turquoise
Mars: rose gold, pink sapphires, jasper
Jupiter: Yellow gold, white gold, sapphires, diamonds, jasper
Saturn: White gold, yellow gold, sapphires, diamonds, obsidian
Shooting star: Yellow gold, white gold, Traditional Mystery Set emeralds, Traditional Mystery Set buff-topped sapphires, diamonds.