The poetry of motion and music behind Lady Arpels Ballerines Musicales

By Olga_Gafurova Thursday, 28 January 2021 3:37 PM

The poetry of motion and music behind Lady Arpels Ballerines Musicales

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In its quest for excellence with a taste for beauty and harmony, Van Cleef & Arpels has drawn boundless inspiration from the world of dance over the decades. Today, the art of ballet imparts an aura of grace into three new watches reflecting the vision of Poetry of Time unique to the Maison. For the first time, Lady Arpels Ballerines Musicales creations blend music and motion, bringing to life a veritable experience of sight and sound. True to the Van Cleef & Arpels tradition of excellence, each timepiece combines watchmaking expertise, mastery of fine crafts and jewelry savoir-faire to capture the full enchantment of music and dance.

Enriching the Poetic Complications collection, each of these three creations evokes a chapter of Jewels, recreating the poetry of the costumes and music through a visual and musical animation. The dial comes to life and the melody rings out, transporting the eyes and ears into an enchanting world of ballet.

The dial awakes on demand: the curtain opens to reveal five ballerinas draped in tutus and colors suggesting the different gemstones and traditions of dance that inspired George Balanchine. As this scene appears, the music starts to play. Thanks to a veritable technical achievement, the melodies associated with the three acts resonate with the crystalline tones of a carillon and a music box. The innovative combination and harmonization of these two instruments treats the ear to themes by Gabriel Fauré, Igor Stravinsky and Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

The watch case amplifies the melody offered by the carillon and music box, transmitting it through a surface expertly paved with diamonds. To heighten the listening experience, each watch comes with a birchwood and walnut marquetry case, created in partnership with luthiers and acoustics experts, and enriched with an electronic amplifier.

This project, conceived a decade ago, required seven years of development work for the manual-winding mechanical movement and the on-demand animation. Perpetuating a tradition dear to the Maison, the watches also feature a retrograde function to tell the time. On the top of the dial, a star – in tribute to the Paris Opera’s “danseuses étoiles” – displays the passage of time on a graduated 12-hour scale.      

The music box is made up of a 10-blade keyboard, plucked by pins located on the underside of the rotating disc that presents the visual animation. The four gongs of the carillon, struck by as many hammers, offer additional notes. The two instruments had to be carefully tuned, like a piano, to ensure perfect pitch for the 20- to 25-second melodies. To respect the rhythm of each arrangement, a centrifugal regulation mechanism maintains constant speed regardless of the tension in the animation barrel. The piece can thus be played three times in a row with flawless melodic quality.