To mark the SIHH 2017, Enchanting Nature comes to life as never before on the new Lady Arpels™ Papillon Automate watch. Equipped with a particularly sophisticated automaton module, it depicts the random fluttering of a butterfly, moving in accompaniment to the movements of the watch’s wearer. A mutual relationship comes into being, as the hours slip by against a pastoral backdrop.

The entire scene is illuminated by a wide range of traditional crafts, gathered together at Van Cleef & Arpels’ watchmaking workshops in Meyrin, Switzerland.

In perfect harmony

The moon is rising over a pastoral landscape. The silver orb is reflected on the surface of a pool, amid flowers and long grass. Fluttering in the breeze, a butterfly alights delicately on a corolla, its movement attracting the attention of a passing walker.

The latter comes over and picks up the butterfly, which beats its wings quicker with ethereal grace. The walker sets off again with this new companion, which mirrors the rhythm of their motion. A symbiotic relationship develops during the walk, as butterfly and walker share a moment of harmony with nature.

Today, Van Cleef & Arpels has recreated this relationship with its new Lady Arpels Papillon Automate watch. A world of poetry comes to life beneath the glass of its dial: as the hours and minutes flow discretely by on the right, the butterfly beats its wings randomly – one to four times in a row, depending on the power reserve.

The frequency of the movements is also irregular, since they take place every two to four minutes when the watch is not being worn and more often when it is on the wrist. The butterfly’s liveliness echoes that of its wearer, with alternating periods of calm and activity. The spectacle on the dial can also be triggered at the push of a button: the butterfly then beats its wings on demand.

The savoir-faire of Van Cleef & Arpels’ watchmaking workshops

The feat of bringing a butterfly to life in a random way is combined with that of recreating the scene in relief, using a multi-layered background. To reflect the vitality of nature, the Maison selected several decorative techniques in which the craftsmen from Van Cleef & Arpels’ watchmaking workshops in Meyrin are expert.

The dial brings together a number of elements: the golden butterfly appears on a flower of sculpted mother-of-pearl, its wings colored with two shades of plique-à-jour enamel. The surrounding vegetation is adorned with champlevé enamel, with the exception of certain particularly rounded blades of grass, which are decorated with a greenish-blue gradation in curved plique-à-jour enamel. This new technique – developed specially by Van Cleef & Arpels enables the enamel to assume the three-dimensional form of the motif. The transparency of the material combines with the effect of volume to emphasize the depth of the dial.

The background accentuates the sense of perspective: a moon in paillonné enamel is reflected in water set with blue, mauve and violet sapphires. This spectacle is also interspersed with round and pear-shaped diamonds, creating glittering corollas. The scene continues on the back of the watch – with a bas-relief on the rear of the case – and on the oscillating weight, which is visible through a decorated sapphire glass.