For me, at my second SIHH and still very much a ‘newbie’ fair wise, an unexpected watch, especially when part of a polished and engaging press presentation, still has the ability to make me forget about the maddening crowds and occasionally sauna-like conditions of Palexpo. This year, as was the case last year, I found this happening at Van Cleef & Arpels, although this time it happened not once, but twice.
This is the first of the two.
The whimsically titled Pierre Arpels ‘Heure d’ici & Heure d’ailleurs’, which translates to ‘time here & time elsewhere’ is, as the name says, a two time zone watch, but a rather special one, and not just because of its name – it is a double jumping hour with minute retrograde. The ‘heure d’ici’ is in the top aperture and the second time zone, in the lower. If you cannot remember, then just use the text on the dial as a guide. Both hours jump via a single sector that synchronises the hour discs and the minute hand. The movement is automatic and has a platinum bi-directional micro-rotor, and the watch was the result of a collaboration between Jean-Marc Wiederrecht/ Agenhor and the director of the VC&A workshop, a partnership that has resulted in a number of highly regarded ‘Poetic Complications’ for Van Cleef & Arpels.
It is in a 42mm white gold case and comes with a white gold pin buckle and alligator strap. It is not limited, but will form part of the permanent collection.
For any other brand, calling a watch ‘time here & time elsewhere’, let alone putting this on a dial, might be considered twee at best. But, and whilst I acknowledge that part of the experience is having the watch introduced to you by the brand, there is something about the house of VC&A which means that they can not only get away with this sort of naming, but that they also have the ability to create a bit of magic around it at the same time. This is a very understated piece, its practicality lifted by a sense of that Van Cleef & Arpels ‘poetry’. It was one of my favourite pieces of the fair, and a watch that I would happily wear.