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van cleef & arpels ornates planetarium automaton with sublime gems at watches & wonders

van cleef & arpels reimagines planetarium


designboom witnesses how Van Cleef & Arpels imagines its Planetarium Automaton as heavenly bodies mounted on a revolving mechanism and flecked with iridescent gemstones meticulously anchored by artisans. The French luxury brand brings forth the moving jewelry planetarium at Wonders & Watches 2023 in Geneva.


The Planetarium Automaton showcases the rhythmic movement of the planets visible from the Earth, the Sun, and the Moon at an orchestrated pace. It is exhibited along with Van Cleef & Arpels’ recent timepiece collection. To recreate the wonder inspired by gazing at the heavens, the luxury house has fixated its craftsmanship gaze on selecting and working the materials, derived from traditional jewelry making.

van cleef arpels planetarium automaton
images courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels



The artisans meld precious and ornamental stones with The Sun alone displaying a cluster of diamonds set on over 500 gold stems. The automaton comes to life as the mechanism whirs and drives on the gemstone-covered planetarium to rotate, following the assigned paths carved into the automaton’s foundation.


The heavenly bodies’ structures dangle over gold-clad poles, and as they rotate, each planet slowly spins around to accentuate the glimmer of the gemstones. Such a coordinated technique may stun the viewers, tugging them into the automaton’s wonderland and inviting them to take their time scrutinizing its thoroughly detailed designs. 

van cleef & arpels ornates planetarium automaton with sublime gems at watches & wonders



Varying hues and uses of gemstones


Van Cleef & Arpels marvels at the underscoring qualities of gemstones and plants them at the forefront of their reinterpretation of the planetarium. Within their creative space, Mercury is represented by a moonstone, while Venus offsets the shades of agate. Earth shines in chrysocolla, making its first appearance in Maison’s creations. The familiar glow of the Moon, in orbit around the Earth, is evoked by an opal. Carnelian lends its warm tones to Mars. Lastly, Jupiter is adorned with a heart in chalcedony, while Saturn showcases jasper, its rings blending white gold with sapphires and diamonds. 


Yellow sapphires, spessartite garnets, and diamonds adorn the Sun. Its appearance is underlined by a visual of depth and lightness appearance drawn from the 500 gold stems on which it is mounted. Nine black aventurine glass discs, seven of which are individually animated by the mechanism, are arranged concentrically within the dial to suggest the size of the heavens. Amid a glittering environment, the planets and shooting star, one that encircles all the planets below them, move according to their own rhythms.

van cleef & arpels ornates planetarium automaton with sublime gems at watches & wonders



planetarium automaton with A shooting star


When the show of Van Cleef & Arpels Planetarium Automaton at Watches & Wonders 2023 begins, a shooting star pops up from a small door at the ground of the automaton. It is fashioned in gold, diamonds, and Mystery Set rubies and indicates the time on a 24-hour dial as it appears from beneath the automaton’s glass case, blown specially for the object. 


It sweeps the planets along in a movement alike ballet, accompanied by a melody specially created in partnership with Michel Tirabosco, a Swiss musician and concert artist. Every second planet moves in the opposite direction to its natural orbit, bringing fairy-tale poetry to the ensemble. On the base of the object, several windows follow one another: hours/minutes, day/night, perpetual calendar indicating the day, month and year, and power reserve. A door also allows observing the automaton’s musical box and chimes.

van cleef & arpels ornates planetarium automaton with sublime gems at watches & wonders



Alongside the Planetarium collection, the pavilions of Van Cleef & Arpels at Watches and Wonders 2023 evoke an enchanting stroll made in lacquered panels and coated in dark green and azure blue shades. Metal and gold leaves underline the design and offer captivating plays of light. 


The introduction of new jewelry watches lands on Van Cleef & Arpels’ creative vision too. The ones from the Perlée and Alhambra collections reveal new combinations of meticulously selected gems. The dials of the High Jewelry watch Ludo Secret and the À Cheval captivate visitors through their kaleidoscopic reflections.


They even toy with the visitor’s whimsical emotions as the jewelry watches’ surprising and mesmerizing plays of hide and seek, a signature of the luxury house, spring forth. Within this verdant universe, the secret watches of the Perlée and Ludo collections graciously unfold to the public.

van cleef arpels planetarium automaton
image © designboom


van cleef & arpels ornates planetarium automaton with sublime gems at watches & wonders van cleef & arpels ornates planetarium automaton with sublime gems at watches & wonders

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