Van cleef

INTERVIEW: Rainer Bernard, Van Cleef & Arpels

Bernard joined Van Cleef & Arpels in 2011 as it always inspired him due to its "perfect blending between watching, jewelry and High Jewelry"

Bernard joined Van Cleef & Arpels in 2011 as it always inspired him due to its “perfect blending between watching, jewelry and High Jewelry”

You joined the Maison Van Cleef & Arpels in 2011 as Head of Research and Development for Watchmaking. How did it all start?

Watches have always interested me. I was very happy to have my first mechanical watch in 1975 which I still have and which still works ! Graduated as a mechanical engineer, I started working in different countries and fields but watchmaking always stayed in my mind. In 2006, an opportunity in Switzerland was available as a Head of Mechanical Engineering in a Maison of the Groupe Richemont.

In 2011, I joined Van Cleef & Arpels. The Maison have always inspired me because of its creativity and the perfect blending between watching, jewelry and High Jewelry. Since then, I am still with the Maison, and became Director of Research and Development last April.

You hold a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the Technical University of Munich. How your degree did helped you in your current role at VCA?

This degree is a sign of curiosity and the base for a good engineering and good products development. It is not the degree itself that helps but the curiosity and the creativity based on the curiosity that helps to develop these beautiful watches, within the development of Van Cleef & Arpels.  

You have a great passion for research and innovation. How have you contributed to take the Maison watchmaking level to higher standards?

Timepieces development at Van Cleef & Arpels happens as a team effort. We always start with the story, for a Poetic Complications for example, and then we think about the technical and esthetical elements. The technical knowledge, of course, helps to develop the necessary movements and elements in order to create the story.

Research and Development is the base for the technical foundation of the watch, but as you know, the technical heart of a timepiece is always hidden inside a beautiful piece of jewelry or High Jewelry in order to leave room to the beauty of the creation. The technique is always there to support the aesthetic of the piece.  

You’ve known as the orchestrator of the harmonious blend of horology and art. How can you practice your magical talent to produce such wonderful artistic timepieces?

To play good music, you need excellent musicians. Being part of the overall team, I contribute through questions, ideas, good humor and creative approaches. Nevertheless, the work being done at the Maison is always collaborative, and we need the creativity of each individual engineer, artist, craftsmen, designer in order to create our timepieces.   

The Lady Féerie watch

Van cleef

Since the 1940s, Van Cleef & Arpels has celebrated the beauty of fairies. Would tell us more about the new Lady Féerie watch design?

Fairies have inspired Van Cleef & Arpels’ creations since the early days of the Maison.  On the Lady Féerie watch, a beautiful fairy indicates the minutes with her magic wand sets with a diamond. While she’s doing so, she is seating on clouds which give view to the moon (on the blue version) or to the sun (on the pink version), indicating the hours.

These timepieces do not have minute and hour hands, it is really the fairies and the scenery that tell you the time. Our fairies stories have been integrated in a beautiful 33mm housings and are equipped with automatic winding movements. As I mentioned before, all the techniques of the watch is hidden behind those beautiful sceneries.

Van cleef

Where does the inspiration come from?

Van Cleef & Arpels’ inspiration are deeply rooted since the creation of the Maison. Love stories, poetic astronomy, nature, dance, couture, and of course fairies are sources of inspirations which all together define the positive universe of Van Cleef & Arpels, celebrating happiness and beauty.

The enchanting Lady Féerie is characterized by its sophisticated movement. Would you give us more details about it?

To enhance the beauty of its stories, Van Cleef & Arpels often uses retrograde indications, another signature element of the Lady Féerie watch. Through the magic wand, the minute are indicated from 0 to 60.

We combine it with a jumping hour indication, representing the moon or the sun (depending on the version). The engineering design enables a perfect synchronisation of the jump of the minute and the hours. As a little inch, we integrated another fairy, which sets on one of the movement components, balancing gently back and forth while it is working.

Van cleef

This Poetic Complications piece brings together watchmaking savoir-faire and traditional crafts. To which woman this timepiece is designed?

The craft is an important element of the creation of the Lady Féerie watch. The fairy is sculptured in perfect elegance out of gold and she is wearing a dress of precious stones. By hand, the little stairs holding these precious stones are painted with the miniature painting technique to enhance her beauty. Her head is a diamond, and the ornament, a tiara, is made out of golden beads, hand painted in 3 different colours.

The Lady Féerie watch is made for clients who love to be enchanted, have a passion for beautiful High Jewelry creations and who are willing to take the time to read the time, as time is the most precious thing we have.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *