Van Cleef & Arpels Pierre Arpels Bracelet Or

Van Cleef & Arpels Pierre Arpels Bracelet Or

by Michael Weare

If ever a man was born to the sophisticated soirees of 1950s South of France and Monaco in the years when glamorous Grace Kelly became Princess Grace, it was Pierre Arpels. He was a suave, elegant and eloquent mainstay of the social scene, mixing with the wealthy and privileged in the glittering Monaco social scene of the day.

Mr Pierre Arpels

Mr Pierre Arpels

A businessman, designer, traveller and sportsman, Arpels lived an elegant life of order, fine taste and refinement. The summer months would find him on his yacht cruising the Riviera. It was the most agreeable way to call in on the key social occasions which of course included the Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Red Cross Ball.

Pierre Arpels joined the family firm Van Cleef & Arpels at the end of World War II; it was a perfect time to join the firm as the world turned its attention away from the privations of war to a new era of hedonistic luxury in an attempt to forget about that which had gone before.

The three Arpels brothers

The three Arpels brothers

Pierre Arpels contributed uniquely to the history of the Maison when in 1949 he quietly and confidentially sat down and designed a watch in keeping with his regular requirements to be both entertained and entertaining during a hectic social calendar. He designed a watch of rare quality and timeless beauty. The idea was to design an exceptional piece to which he would give his own name. To this day the watch is called the Pierre Arpels.

The concept behind the watch was entirely fitting for the times. In those days it was considered bad form to check your watch while entertaining, unlike today where 42mm of watch makes its presence felt, in those days the watch should neither be seen or referred to. Therefore he required a watch that was discretion itself. For more than 60 years, the Pierre Arpels timepiece has remained as a wafer slim piece designed expressly for evening wear. The Pierre Arpels encapsulates Van Cleef & Arpels’ vision of refined masculine sophistication.

After many compliments from lounge lizard friends, the watch was made in small quantities only for his immediate circle. Eventually it went on sale in 1967.

Van Cleef & Arpels Pierre Arpels Watch

Van Cleef & Arpels Pierre Arpels Watch (2012)

Van Cleef & Arpels released a new look for the iconic timepiece in 2012. The shape of the watch conforms to the perfect circle that Vincent Van Gogh professed to be the hardest shape for any artist to master. The design of the 2012 model had unobtrusive central attachments which lends the watch an impression of weightlessness as if the dial were suspended in space. The dial was unfussy simplicity itself with baton-shaped hour-markers and slender hands.

The original watch featured a white dial with matte finish, baton hands, precisely geometrically placed Roman numeral hour markers, a yellow-gold case, and a simple, black leather strap. Several versions have been presented over the years. Rakishly elegant and extra-thin, the Pierre Arpels can be instantly identified for its two straight bars which frame the dial, and the genteel single attaching pins at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions.

This elegant slimmed down look is starting to make a comeback in men’s dress watches.

For 2013, Van Cleef & Arpels released a new version of the watch. This time it bears its originator’s full name. The dial is still in white lacquer, but this time the hours are represented by gold Roman numerals and slim black indices. As with the 2012 interpretation, the watch is imbued with a honeycomb pattern designed to resemble a dress shirt and it comes complete with a Van Cleef & Arpels logo.

Van Cleef & Arpels Pierre Arpels  Bracelet Or (2013)

Van Cleef & Arpels Pierre Arpels Bracelet Or (2013)

The watch is the horological equivalent of a size zero dress, extra-thin, it’s also subtly bevelled, so it can comfortably slip under a shirt cuff. The rounded attachments at the top and bottom of the case enable the watch to be worn lightly on the wrist.

In the 2013 version a great deal of work has gone into the creation of the bracelet. Handmade, it is of pressed Milanese stitch requiring more than 15 separate operations. The metal is shaped into a spiral, with gold wire cut into lengths and then interlinked. If you feel your own social whirl deserves such a watch the 38mm model is £24,800 and the larger 42mm version is £27,900.

    Author Bio

    Articles by Michael Weare


    Michael Weare hails from an international advertising agency background where he handled several well known and highly desirable watch brands; handled, but sadly never got to keep. However it's this exposure that gave him a lasting fascination for watches. Michael was Editor of Click Tempus for over 2.5 years and is now in the same role at Watchuseek, the web's largest watch forum.