Style / World of Watches (WOW)

VCA Lady Arpels Ronde des Papillons

If you have ever wondered what a watch with retrograde hours, variable speed minutes and on-demand animation looks like, Van Cleef & Arpels shows you.

Jan 14, 2016 | By null

If you have ever wondered what a watch with retrograde hours, variable speed minutes and on-demand animation looks like, Van Cleef & Arpels has given you the answer. The Parisian jeweler with the soul of a poetic watchmaker still has a lot of explaining to with the Lady Arpels Ronde des Papillons because while the watch looks like a beauty, the description still beggars belief. We decided to take it upon ourselves to interpret the information sent out by the brand because the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie is just around the corner and this watch will surely be front and center there. Also, the wire services have put together an unintelligible mess of a story on this but did helpfully supply the images seen here.

To begin with, the colorful butterflies are mobile, and their motions show the minutes, in conjunction with the swallow at 6 o’clock that points out retrograde hours with its wingtip. The minutes are split into three sections, each overseen by one of the butterflies, which take over from each other at the appropriate minute, literally. Only one butterfly is visible at a time (the rest hide in the clouds), making reading off time not especially complicated. Given that the indication of time is by butterfly though (not a sentence I ever thought I’d write), it is unclear if the precise minute is indicated via the wingtip… We shall investigate. What we do know is that all three butterflies can appear on command, dancing around the clouds for 13 seconds, then returning to previous positions.

Lady Arpels Ronde des Papillons

This scene is largely made up out of hand-painted panels in mother-of-pearl, butterflies decorated by miniature painting and an engraved white gold swallow, also painted in different colors. This scene is repeated, or completed if you prefer, on the caseback, this time with the swallow engraved on the caseback while the three butterflies are lacquered and positioned on the rotor of the self-winding movement; the clouds are engraved on the underside of the sapphire crystal exhibition caseback.

This new model Lady Arpels is part of the permanent collection, which means that we can looks forward to more creative executions over the next years.


  • Van Cleef & Arpels Ronde des Papillons
  • Dimensions: 38mm
  • Functions: Jumping retrograde hours, variable speed minutes, animation on-demand
  • Power reserve: 42 hours
  • Movement: Mechanical, manual-winding, calibre 98300
  • Water resistance: NA
  • Material: White gold with diamonds on bezel and one on the crown, alligator strap with white gold pin buckle set with diamonds
  • Numbered edition

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