A Van Cleef & Arpels ladies’ watch set with gemstones was tremendously successful.
Van Cleef & Arpels, c. 1924-1925, square ladies’ wristwatch in platinum and grey gold entirely set with diamonds, emeralds and onyx decorated with two birds in flight.
Nobody would have predicted it! This platinum and grey gold ladies’ wristwatch entirely set with diamonds, emeralds and onyx fetched a surprising €348,160. Granted, it is an extremely precious model by the Van Cleef & Arpels from around 1924-1925, the height of the Art Deco period, but still. What’s more, this creation, which has as much to do with jewelry as with watchmaking, is in Van Cleef & Arpels' Egyptian style. It was designed shortly after the stunning discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922: Egyptomania was at its height throughout Europe and jewelers joined the frenzy. In 1923 Van Cleef & Arpels starting making very beautiful creations reinterpreting the codes of Egyptian civilization. It worked. Elegant women loved them and in 1939 things came full circle: Van Cleef & Arpels, located on the Place Vendôme, was chosen to make a piece of jewelry for the queen of Egypt, Nazli Sabri, King Fuad I’s second wife and the mother of King Farouk. It combines the purity of Art Deco lines with an imaginative reinterpretation of the pharaohs’ breastplates. For whom was this watch designed? Nobody knows.