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I never really thought about the origins of a watch but when Van Cleef & Arpels recently introduced its newest collection inspired by the chain watches in the 17th century, it got me thinking: what were the original watches like?  

Getting side-tracked (as usual) into the history of watches, I found that only the rich used to wear bulky ‘clock-watches’ around their necks – think Flavor Flav but much more regal. However, that soon evolved into the more common pocket-watch as Charles II of England introduced the waistcoat. So ta-da, there’s a little piece of history if you didn’t know yet!

Photography: Van Cleef & Arpels

Fast forward to today where chain watches have become so rare, Van Cleef & Arpels has brought the trend back with its first-ever secret pendant watch range. Joining the ‘Alhambra’ line, these timepieces are meant to be worn around the neck and only need a quick pivot to reveal the time. Although the watches are influenced by the past, they differ from the centuries-old chain watch in many ways.

For starters, they’re a lot smaller than a pocket watch and so much more elegant thanks to Van Cleef & Arpels’ high standards of craftsmanship. With each one assembled with quartz movement and fringed with golden beads on the top and bottom surfaces to accentuate the pendants’ curves, needless to say, this collection has totally captivated me! Read on to find out why.

Only exquisite materials

Taking the form of the Maison’s iconic ‘Alhambra’ four-leaf clover jewellery, these secret pendant watches are dainty and subtle, staying true to the collection’s and brand’s aesthetics. Coming in three variations, the range incorporates charming white mother-of-pearl dials and intricate guilloché engravings as seen on the yellow-gold dial and rose-gold cover. Besides that, vibrant carnelian and lapis lazuli gemstones used on the pendants are of the highest gemological standards, specifically D to F for colour and IF to VVS for clarity.  

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Photography: Van Cleef & Arpels
Photography: Van Cleef & Arpels
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Wristwatch option

If chain watches aren’t your thing, look out for Van Cleef & Arpels’ ‘Sweet Alhambra’ watches. Crafted in the same four-leaf clover silhouette, the two new timepieces come in bright turquoise and lapis lazuli dials with a row of dazzling diamonds set inside the bezel. Its sides are also adorned with diamonds set in between a double-beaded yellow-gold contour. The best part about these watches is that the straps are easily interchangeable to match your mood or outfit!

Photography: Van Cleef & Arpels

Expert craftsmanship  

Coming from Van Cleef & Arpels, expect only the highest standards when it comes to the creation of these pieces. Everything from the stone selection and setting to adjusting the watch movement is carefully thought out. The diamond creations, for instance, use a snow setting with diamonds of different diameters to entirely cover the surface as much as possible. This creates a brilliant sparkle when the case is rotated to reveal the time.  

Photography: Van Cleef & Arpels

A new symbol of love?

The thought of having your watch as a necklace feels a lot more personal and intimate – like a sentimental piece of jewellery that’s kept close to your heart. And with the ‘Alhambra’ secret pendant watches made in such delicate designs and combined with the Maison’s expertise, I wouldn’t be surprised if these pieces become the newest symbol of love!

Photography: Van Cleef & Arpels

Ranging from RM80,000 to RM186,000, the new ‘Alhambra’ secret pendant watches are available here. Due to limited quantities, the ‘Sweet Alhambra’ wristwatches are not available online.

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