Van Cleef & Arpels “Cerfs-Volants” Kites Watches Hands-On

Van Cleef & Arpels “Cerfs-Volants” Kites Watches Hands-On

Van Cleef & Arpels Cerfs Volants Kites Watches Hands On   hands on

French is a funny language, and I'll admit that even when translated into English I often have trouble understanding it. That's because so much of French is about "in-speak," or otherwise a set of agreed upon meanings to otherwise untranslatable cultural terms. I first began to encounter this while spending a lot of time in France and Switzerland trying to decipher menus at restaurants. There seemed to be a local meaning to terms, so that when translated into English they still didn't make sense.

As a non-French speaker I find that the term "cerfs-volants" which means kites to be a shining example of what I am talking about. The term means "kites" in English, but the individual words seem to translated into "flying deer." So you'd just have to know that "flying deer" actually means kites in French. If I am missing something here by all means fill in my cultural void. Anyhow, this leads me to some extremely French, and extremely Van Cleef & Arpels "Cerfs-Volants" watches as part of their Extraordinary Dials collection of timepieces.

Van Cleef & Arpels Cerfs Volants Kites Watches Hands On   hands on

Each year, Van Cleef & Arpels, one of my favorite "emotional" makers of high-end items, chooses a theme for its various collections of new limited edition watches. This year saw a return to butterflies. I say return because it seems as though butterflies are pretty much always just around the corner when it comes to being inspiration for feminine items. And no, sadly butterflies around the world are not at all compensated for a widespread exploitation of their likeness.

Among a range of gorgeous butterfly-theme watches and jewelry items comes this unique set of four limited edition watches that take the concept of butterflies and transforms them into flying kites. It is an interesting and refreshing take on featuring the pretty insects in a manner I've not yet seen before. As is typical of these themed sets of watches from Paris-based Van Cleef & Arpels, a matching presentation box of equal effort is available if someone chooses to acquire all four watches.

Just look at the amazing detail and hand-work on the box. The cabinet style wood box is beautifully painted and lacquered, decorated with imagery and inlays of mother-of-pearl. I honestly get just as excited to see these presentation boxes as I am to see the watches each year. You'll notice just how large the box is as well.

Van Cleef & Arpels Cerfs Volants Kites Watches Hands On   hands on

16 comments
D S Vilhena
D S Vilhena

Sorry, but this is ugly as hell. And to use a French term, very nouveau riche.

DG Cayse
DG Cayse

Exquisitely beautiful pieces. The VC&A yearly collections are stunning...until...it gets to the hands.


What happened? Such mundane hands on dials such as this suggests defeat of the imagination.

Did the designer just give up after the dial?

Did the designer think that any attempt at placing appropriately designed hands would somehow be in competition with the beautiful dials?


Baffling.

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

You know, while I know what it denotes, I still don't know why the term "Poetic" is used for watches. Beautiful, artistic, whimsical, feminine I understand. But poetic? If some watches are poetic, can others be limericks? Or nursery rhymes for kids watches? Haiku watches from Japan? I'm so confused...

carolyn h
carolyn h

Yes please, Carmine or Fuscia will do nicely.  We all need a little something exquisite on the wrist every now and then.

phb
phb

Cerf-volant is believed to actually come from serp-volante or flying snake in old French, good luck with menus that is a different language altogether even to French speakers!

Zeitblom
Zeitblom

" Each year, Van Cleef & Arpels, one of my favorite "emotional" makers of high-end items,"


Mine too. You know, the kind of emotion that is evoked by a bad bout of food poisoning.


Well, these tacky pieces of junk aren't as bad as the frightful "poetic wish" things. But that's called damning with faint praise, I believe. Really, Van Cleef and Arpels, do the world a favor and move into a field more suited to your talents. I believe that pushcarts for selling souvenirs in Montmartre can be had relatively cheaply.


Van Cleef and Arpels: the Justin Bieber of high-end horology.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

Some of the dial designs are very pretty, if a little garish compared to the pearlescent background.  What I am tired of is seeing diamonds thrown on everything and on every possible surface.  These diamonds are frankly tiny and have no obvious geometric beauty unless you carry a loupe with you everywhere.  Sticking a few more stragglers on the lugs just takes the cake.  Might as well be gravel, that's what it looks like.  It makes the whole watch look tacky rather than premium, like some kid daubed on a gob of glue and sprinkled glitter on it.  But hey, some guy I know told me that women love diamonds, so let's just shoehorn them in without any thought and call it a day - 'cause women don't care about design, just sparkly stuff, right?  *sigh*  Perhaps i'm completely wrong and most women would go crazy over these, I can't be sure - I only know that watch makers should respect the intelligence of their customers a little more.  Pink and diamonds are clichés that seem to me like talking down to the female audience, treating them like they're still six-year-old sugar-plum fairies.

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@phbThe tail on kite makes sense for "flying snake". Thanks.

SN0WKRASH
SN0WKRASH moderator

@Ulysses31Don't get me started...

This past weekend I was shopping in Union Square in San Francisco and asked to see a women's Patek with a see-through caseback.  The woman who was waiting on me scrunched her face and rolled her eyes and said - we only have those in men's, I know they exist but we just don't have one right now, and not because we sold it. We have this... and she showed me more than one covered in diamonds.

We then proceeded to have the whole "Why don't brands and retailers see this market more accurately" conversation I've had with so many women lately.  Are the numbers of us who feel this way substantial enough to warrant change and deliver more varied offerings?  If so, how does that message get to brands? By seeking out the few alternatives and purchasing them, which, I would think we already do. By having more female watch journalists of the caliber of the writers here? They could attract more women to the non-fashion-watch watch world, as Ariel and others have with men.  But that's a chicken-and-egg thing, too.  Not really enough of these non-diamond-encrusted, non-mother-of-pearl high-end mechanical watches for women exist to sustain steady, prolific content - hell, even Bulova as of this moment has ZERO mechanical watches for women on their site, they are all for men.  It was explained to me some weeks ago at a Glashutte Original event that "women don't like the thickness of mechanical watches, so using quartz movements make them thinner and more appealing to women."  Hmmm.

Yes, women and men are different markets.  No, women do not want watches that are purely masculine.  And the meanings of "feminine" and "masculine" along with "what's attractive" are ever fluid. (I love to sometimes wear intensely masculine watches, as that contrast to my own femininity is appealing to myself and some men I know). So. How do we solve this problem, or do we just keep bitching about it? How do we demonstrate that our tastes, our personalities, our sense of what we want is as complex and varied as men?


I find these designs very lovely, and the quality goes without saying. I find a lot of fun in these watches.  And I enjoy the artistry of the brand.  I just have this feeling, always have this feeling like "What if."  What IF this brand or that brand once or twice or three times inside a few years focused talent, energy, skill and effort into their full interpretation of that kick-ass women's watch that does not rely upon the idea that "because it's jewelry for women it requires visible jewels" that I know is in there but won't be let out.  I look forward to the day when that watch or those watches exist as part of each brand's offering - not in lieu of - but alongside the pretty gem/mother-of-pearl stuff.  And, there will be some brands that can't pull it off. But I want to see them try.

bluzer
bluzer

Yes, especially since "serp" was the feminine of serpent in old French.

Quite à propos!

Ariel. you can't always rely on these online literal translation engines ;-)

mcv1973a
mcv1973a

"women don't like the thickness of mechanical watches, so using quartz movements make them thinner and more appealing to women."

Tell that to my wife. She stole my Doxa 1200 some time ago, and has no intention of giving it back...

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@SN0WKRASH@Ulysses31 What makes it tough for brands (with male oriented lines) to respond to the 'need' for ladies watches that are non-jewel encrusted but having mechanical movements is that those that have tried have too often been burned by lack of sales. Another independent U.S. brand (not me) recently confided that bringing out a ladies model was a huge mistake as they did not sell. For better or worse, the market has to make itself known and then hopefully the big brands will notice and respond. While the smaller brands can respond to smaller market segments, the ladies sized version of a good man's watch remains a hard product to produce at a profit.

vmarks
vmarks

@SN0WKRASH I was in Kohl's a few months ago and found a ladies Bulova automatic in rose gold with a MOP dial. It had a cut out in the shape of a heart showing the balance wheel underneath. Certainly not my taste, but then, it wasn't for meant for me. My wife ended up having a Citizen. If Kohl's isn't exactly a boutique, they at least have a nice return policy.

DG Cayse
DG Cayse

@SN0WKRASHSnowkrash - very well said.

May I suggest you send a copy of this to all of the manufacturers and distributors with whom you come in contact. Your voice is not alone in this recognition of an unserved demographic.

I do think you will find a number of sympathetic ears out there just waiting for this sentiment.

Perhaps starting with the sales staff at a certain English marketer going by the initials of C.W.

Best & Merry Christmas to All !!

LapYoda
LapYoda

@SN0WKRASH@Ulysses31Kristin, you need to chat with my wife.  Since I became a WIS and started rubbing off on her, she now wants mechanical timepieces because of the artistry and workmanship of the movements, not just the dials and cases (though they obviously have to be attractive to her as well).  She likes that Frederique Constant takes their female customers seriously by offering multiple lines of mechanical watches, even ones with their in-house movement (which she has).  But most other companies simply shrink their men's watches, put a quartz movement in it, cover it with diamonds, and call it a day.  She would much rather have a smaller man's piece with an automatic movement than a woman's with a quartz.

SN0WKRASH
SN0WKRASH moderator

@LapYodayes, after I wrote this I thought of my choices I made public in the Ask Us Anything post here a little while back and Frederique Constant is one of them... I am a fan of what they do with some of their women's watches, absolutely.  I feel the same way your wife does.  Yeah, about the shrinking of men's watches, quartzifying it then loading it with diamonds thing - I always feel like they took a queue from Genesis and took a "rib" from the man's watch and tossed it our way to make a "knock-off." Pretty degrading! Sounds like I'm not the only one :-)