July 18, 2010
by Ariel Adams
I was in Basel, Switzerland sitting in a van and I saw a man wearing what looked rather familiar. There on his wrist was a Christiaan Van Der Klaauw Planetarium. Of course, it makes total sense for the man to be strutting his stuff at Baselworld, but how rare is it for someone to have one of these? Pretty rare actually. The luxury watch done in an old world style displays the signature ultra complexity that Christian Van Der Klaauw is know for. I know of no other watch with a full planetarium on the dial. I talked to the man for a second to compliment him on the piece. You just don’t see stuff like that very often.
In fact, Christiaan van der Klaauw (CVDK) pretty much only makes “astronomical watches.” The Planetarium has the smallest such complication in the world on the dial. Even before clocks existed, there were astrological devices meant to track the heavens. The watch movement is a heavily modified ETA 2824 with a hell of a module on it. Aside from the time, the watch has an annual calendar with the month and the date, as well as a planetarium that shows the relative placement of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn around the sun. What? No Uranus? I would have totally given a small shout out to Pluto as well… you know, for old times’ sake.
At 40mm wide, the watches come in a few case styles, most of which being in 18k rose or white gold (platinum also available). There are also a number of dial options available (like 3 or 4 of them). Over time the watch has changed a lot. Some of the more recent models even have different, non ETA base movements. The movements are all modified in-house by CVDK. Check out those cool casebacks? Benzinger in Germany does all the engraving work on them, and makes them look very old-world hip. I always love it when Benzinger’s shop lends its talent to any project. Sapphire crystal on the top and bottom of the watch (of course), and they are matched to an alligator strap.
For an classic look that feels awesome, you really can’t go wrong with CVDK watches. You have luxury, traditional looks, fascinating complications, and that interesting avant garde pedigree you always seem to find in Dutch watches. CVDK feels well made, and have a indy spirit that is in total contrast to the more corporate feel of a Cartier for example. Prices for most Christiaan van der Klaauw Planetarium watches are in the $25,000 – $30,000 range. Some advice though… if you have one of these, please never let it wind down and always keep it in a winder… cause then you’ll have to reset the planetarium.,. and what a chore that would be!
Some CK PLANETARIUM CKPT1126 Tech Specs of the model above:
Movement: Automatic, Klaauw-Benzinger
KB 12824-2 (modified ETA 2824-2) with in-house module; movement is guilloched by hand.
Functions: The watch is equipped with the smallest heliocentric planetarium in the world and gives not only the time, date and month, but also the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn around the Sun.
Case: Rose gold, Ã¸ 40 mm, height 14 mm; sapphire glass; transparent bottom.
Dial: Guilloched; pomme hands in blued steel.
Strap: Alligator leather.
See a Christiaan van der Klaauw Planetarium watch available on James List here.