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Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Heure d’Ici & Heure d’Ailleurs Watch Hands-On

Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Heure d'Ici & Heure d'Ailleurs Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Heure d’Ici & Heure d’Ailleurs watch refresh flew under the radar at SIHH 2018 but immediately drew me in by adding a needed degree of “wearability” to the already super-niche timepiece. The last time we took a look at a men’s Heure d’Ailleurs watch, it was housed in the round case featuring the “T-bar” lugs which was absolutely elegant but far too formal. I love that VC&A (who are obviously aware that these timepieces will only be seen by a fraction of the .01%, let alone worn by) thought to add a “Midnight” case version in addition to the older “Pierre Arpels” version of the watch that translates to “Time Here & Time Elsewhere.”

Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Heure d'Ici & Heure d'Ailleurs Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Hands-on images by Ariel Adams

The reason for this name is that the watch has a dual time zone in addition to its jumping hours and retrograde minutes layout. The Midnight Heure d’Ici & Heure d’Ailleurs is housed in a pink gold case that measures the same 42mm wide as the Pierre Arpels model, but with that more masculine case that makes for a timepiece that I can honestly see someone wearing pretty frequently. Or at least without formal evening wear.

Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Heure d'Ici & Heure d'Ailleurs Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Heure d'Ici & Heure d'Ailleurs Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The Midnight Heure uses the same movement that VC&A developed with Agenhor, featuring that fuck-off platinum bidirectional-winding rotor that makes the view from the exhibition case back even more impressive in the Midnight case. This movement achieves a 48-hour power reserve, and it looks absolutely stunning when viewed from the case back. But, it’s really all about how VC&A took the three concepts of a dual time zone, retrograde minutes, and jumping hours and synthesized them into something so easily readable and practical. Other brands would have taken the idea into an unnecessarily over-the-top watch, which makes the satisfaction of the ease of use here doubly wonderful.

Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Heure d'Ici & Heure d'Ailleurs Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Heure d'Ici & Heure d'Ailleurs Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Let’s get to the dial, which simultaneously impresses me and wildly disappoints me. That a dual time zone watch with jumping hours and retrograde minutes is so simple and minimalist is a design feat that I am smitten with. The way you read the dial is so simple, the apertures at 11 and 4 o’clock show the hour for two different time zones while the retrograde minutes hand jumps back to 0. Once every sixty minutes when the hour jumps, the minutes hand and hour windows jump simultaneously.

Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Heure d'Ici & Heure d'Ailleurs Watch Hands-On Hands-On

What’s the bad with the dial? Most of you will have guessed (or commented) by now that the italicized text reading “Heure d’Ici & Heure d’Ailleurs” that parallels the retrograde minutes track is… a lot. The otherwise fantastic design of the watch dial perfectly contrasts the fact that you are wearing a gold watch from a brand associated with international mega-luxury. It’s like a great pair of shoes with superfluous tassels that you wish you could just hit the delete key on.

Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Heure d'Ici & Heure d'Ailleurs Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Heure d'Ici & Heure d'Ailleurs Watch Hands-On Hands-On

VC&A is a tough brand to totally nail down when it comes to understanding their men’s watches. Obviously, they make some of the most beautiful and iconic jewelry and women’s pieces in the world but this watch could just as likely end up on the wrist of someone who doesn’t own any other watches but fell in love with the piece or as a “Why the hell not” piece in the collection of a prolific watch enthusiast. Either way, it’s one of the most show-stopping traveler’s watches I’ve seen in some time.

Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Heure d'Ici & Heure d'Ailleurs Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Heure d'Ici & Heure d'Ailleurs Watch Hands-On Hands-On

When the white gold Pierre Heure d’Ici & Heure d’Ailleurs was introduced back in 2014, it carried a price tag you’d expect from the brand at around $40,000. Van Cleef & Arpels seem to have shed the resistance towards price transparency and e-commerce that other brands at this level have wrapped themselves in. This is not only because we can see that the price of the Midnight Heure d’Ici & Heure d’Ailleurs is $27,500 (with the older Pierre Arpels version at a much lower than before $24,500) but because you can buy one online if you’d like. For the wealthy buyer who travels often, this Van Cleef & Arpels delivers not only in finish but with its highly-sophisticated movement and clever, highly-readable dial. Frankly, it’s a real achievement. Learn more at vancleefarpels.com

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  • Lingua Franca

    If only they offered a “badge delete” option…

  • Ulysses31

    It would look better without the excessive text.

  • SuperStrapper

    I’d like less hyperpolistic dial verbiage too, but that space will need something so you can’t just hit delete on it (looks like the power is over in that area, maybe an elegant reserve indicator? Generally not so useful on automatics, but would still be better than all that text). I also have a somewhat hard time with the retrograde hand, it’s just too spartan for this watch.VP&A is, in my mind, known for retrograde displays, usually managed though curious and dedicated synergies between artwork and horology. I understand this isn’t an art piece, but they still could have developed a more elegant part here. The watch literally only has ONE hand. Spend some time with it.
    Otherwise quite handsome and very interesting. Movement is lovely. This is among the least ‘romantic’ watches the brand puts out, which is a refreshing departure.

    • Gokart Mozart

      Agree about the hand. Just looks so wrong and about as under designed and boring on any high-end watch that I have seen.

      Also agree they should get rid of the text and replace with a power reserve or retrograde date.

      Reasonable price as well.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Oh I see SuperStrapper. When Gokart says it’s boring you give him an up !. : )

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Oh I see SuperStrapper. When Gokart says it’s boring you give him an up !. : )

        • SuperStrapper

          I must have missed where he said the watch was boring? He agreed the retrograde hand needs improvement, I’m giving him a nod for being on the same page.
          I don’t agree that the watch is boring, and I don’t agree with your overall take on the watch. You opinion doesnt offend me, and I’d fight to maintain your right to freely have one, but that doesn’t mean I support it.
          You’re too high strung on some of this stuff.

    • cluedog12

      You make an excellent point regarding the retrograde hand. It almost looks like it was inexpensively stamped in Bilal’s photos, though I’d expect it makes a better impression in the metal.

    • cluedog12

      You make an excellent point regarding the retrograde hand. It almost looks like it was inexpensively stamped in Bilal’s photos, though I’d expect it makes a better impression in the metal.

  • Ayreonaut

    The minutes track is on the wrong side to be read when partially covered by your shirt sleeve.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    I just don’t get it. Why can’t folk just know where they are and very quickly make a simple calculation of home time. We’re not talking rocket science here. What about all the places that don’t do it by the hour. Some zones are offset by 30 or 45 minutes (e.g. Newfoundland Standard Time is UTC?03:30, Nepal Standard Time is UTC+05:45, and Indian Standard Time is UTC+05:30). It would have been just fine with the hour at the top and the date on the bottom. To be honest with that rubbish written on the dial ( roughly translated as hour by hour ) it looks more like a ladies watch ( albeit a little large). I personally wouldn’t wear rose gold.

    • SuperStrapper

      For the same reason people wear watches instead of just looking at their phone, or basically in any direction to see a time display elsewhere.
      You always have such a hard time with horological expression you don’t want to directly participate in, like it’s an affront. Some will like it, some won’t. Variety is the spice of life. Just enjoy that it exists and it’s ok that you’re not a customer.
      Its Christmas man. I know you don’t drink but maybe pass a ‘Christmas cracker’ around and get in the spirit 😉

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Believe me I know how to party but I can’t say I like something when I don’t. Sure some may love it, but I don’t.
        May this season bring you joy and happiness.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Believe me I know how to party but I can’t say I like something when I don’t. Sure some may love it, but I don’t.
        May this season bring you joy and happiness.

    • SuperStrapper

      For the same reason people wear watches instead of just looking at their phone, or basically in any direction to see a time display elsewhere.
      You always have such a hard time with horological expression you don’t want to directly participate in, like it’s an affront. Some will like it, some won’t. Variety is the spice of life. Just enjoy that it exists and it’s ok that you’re not a customer.
      Its Christmas man. I know you don’t drink but maybe pass a ‘Christmas cracker’ around and get in the spirit 😉

    • Facebook User

      Hi Raymond, it does not say “hour by hour” but “time here and time there”.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Thank you for the correction ( bad google translator! )

    • Steve Bowden

      There are whole groups of people who get terribly confused by time zones. It seems easy, as you point out, to ‘make a simple calculation’. But somehow they always screw it up and the next thing you know someone in Toronto at 9 am calls someone in Vancouver thinking it’s noon there….but of course it’s 6 am. But those people who get confused probably don’t bother to check their watches, phones or computers anyway.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        “Stupid is as stupid does”

        Forrest Gump

      • Raymond Wilkie

        “Stupid is as stupid does”

        Forrest Gump

      • stevebowden already read

      • stevebowden but

    • Independent_George

      Dual time on a watch is one of the most useful complications there is, especially if you travel for work, if you work for an organization where the home office is at least two time zones away from your local office, or if you have parents in their late 80’s who live at least two time zones away. Even better if all three apply to your life.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Well this watch would be perfect for you if you need a complication to keep you on track . 6pm here 5pm at home.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Well this watch would be perfect for you if you need a complication to keep you on track . 6pm here 5pm at home.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Well this watch would be perfect for you if you need a complication to keep you on track . 6pm here 5pm at home.

  • FollowPhil

    Gorgeous – this is for me!

  • FollowPhil

    Gorgeous – this is for me!

  • FollowPhil

    Gorgeous – this is for me!

  • Playboy Johnny – Team Mariu$

    I like this watch a lot. My only criticism would be the already stated hand. I don’t think that a minimalist design works here.
    Perhaps a “Fuck Off” design would be better suited. : )

  • Playboy Johnny – Team Mariu$

    I like this watch a lot. My only criticism would be the already stated hand. I don’t think that a minimalist design works here.
    Perhaps a “Fuck Off” design would be better suited. : )

  • Playboy Johnny – Team Mariu$

    I like this watch a lot. My only criticism would be the already stated hand. I don’t think that a minimalist design works here.
    Perhaps a “Fuck Off” design would be better suited. : )

  • Dakota Dennison

    I think a date and day of the week curved where the writing is in the right hand side of the watch would be much cooler.

    S
    U
    N

    T
    W
    O

    F
    I
    V
    E

    Displayed like that in the cursive

  • Timestandsstill

    Beautiful watch with two of my favorite complications, jumping hour and retrograde. Realistically priced, I’d wear it just as is. It would be a tough choice between this and the Chanel Monsieur de Chanel however if they were priced the same.

  • Polerouter

    This gorgeous watch gets better and better and yet they did not get rid of the elephant in the room. I’m not even talking about the fact that it’s written “Heure d’ici et heure d’ailleurs”, which sounds even more gimmicky when you’re a native french speaker, I’m talking about the fact it’s written in awful curved windows 98 typeface Monotype Corsiva.

  • Polerouter

    This gorgeous watch gets better and better and yet they did not get rid of the elephant in the room. I’m not even talking about the fact that it’s written “Heure d’ici et heure d’ailleurs”, which sounds even more gimmicky when you’re a native french speaker, I’m talking about the fact it’s written in awful curved windows 98 typeface Monotype Corsiva.

  • Yanko

    A marvel. But don’t buy it if you go to Newfoundland and Nepal, as someone below senseless suggested.

    • SuperStrapper

      Nobody in NFLD cares what time it is. Trust me. Beautiful province.

    • SuperStrapper

      Nobody in NFLD cares what time it is. Trust me. Beautiful province.

  • Yanko

    A marvel. But don’t buy it if you go to Newfoundland and Nepal, as someone below senseless suggested.

  • SuperStrapper

    It might be a subtle nod to the no-longer-funny ArchieLuxury and his comments about this or that being among the best “fu@k off watches”, meaning it’s of such considerable cache through either raw materials value or level of watchmaking (or both) that simply wearing it is a billboard to the plebs to simply ‘fu@k off’ rather than engage the wearer on it (or anything else).
    Essentially the watch is communicating : my automatic rotor is solid platinum, that’s all I have to say in the matter. I don’t care of there’s anything else, you can just fu@k off.

  • Bilal Khan

    It wasn’t a typo.