Van Cleef & Arpels The Lady Arpels Brise d’Été
Van Cleef & Arpels The Lady Arpels Brise d’Été
Image: Supplied

A recent inflight magazine article touted the rejuvenating benefits of travel. No doubt to stimulate ticket sales, its “holistic” view on wellness and the importance of holidays — apparently taking more than 21 days of annual leave can prolong your lifespan — featured destination spas and clinics, highlighting the “Western obsession” with longevity.

While I’m not denying the merits of blue-zone lifestyles, binaural beat therapy, and biohacking, I’ll pass on the colonics and age-defying, time-cheating quests, preferring travel as time out for exploration, new discoveries, and celebration of natural and cultural wonders both large and small, locally and in far-off lands. I am grateful to the writer for the introduction to new science that confirms the benefits I find in the state of “awe”, which might be the better medicine for a life well-lived.

Our greatest discoveries and achievements were ignited by a sense of awe, according to Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, whose book Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life proffers the immunity- and mood-boosting properties of awe. Awe, enchantment, imagination, inquisitiveness, ingenuity — these are words I associate with the essential, emotive ingredients of watchmaking and why I return each year to Watches and Wonders Geneva.

Both travel and time have “movement” in common and, while I appreciate the refined, elegant styling of contemporary dress watches or daily divers, I attend the fair expecting to be moved. And moved I was, averaging around 8 000 steps a day to meet with over 50 brands in four days, but also enthralled by the focus this year on the heartbeat and soul of watchmaking, with high-precision chronographs and especially calendar complications highlighting our obsession with measurement, recording, and exploration — but also our fascination with the cosmos, deep time, geological time, and sacramental time.

Yet, it was for good reason that I left my appointment with Van Cleef & Arpels until the very last. Once again, the fine-jewellery and watch maison brought the emotion and wonder, from its “enchanted nature” booth design with giant waving enamelled fronds greeting visitors at the entrance to its captivating automata and exquisite timepieces.

Evoking wild clocks and an altered perception of time, the Lady Arpels Brise d’Été seemed a fitting celebration of nature’s benevolence and cycles of renewal, as Geneva’s public parks and private gardens erupted in a spectacle of vibrant hues and the air filled with the sweet scent of springtime. This is poetry in motion, celebrating all that is Van Cleef, from its gifted Métiers d’Art department to the fine craft and ingenuity of its haute-horlogerie team. A diamond-set bezel frames a three-dimensional dial display where two plique-à-jour (transparent enamelling) butterflies perform as markers for the retrograde hours and the minutes.

This marvel comes to life through the on-demand animation module of its automatic movement, transporting us into an enchanted garden where delicate, pale-blue enamelled and hand-painted flowers sway in a light summer breeze (brise d’été) and the butterflies flutter about before settling again on “real time”. The 38mm white-gold Lady Arpels Brise d’Été is presented on an interchangeable alligator-leather strap.

POA, RLG Africa 011 317 260 or

© Wanted 2024 - If you would like to reproduce this article please email us.