Van Cleef & Arpels is using the watch festival SIHH 2017 to debut their very first Extraordinary Object. Called the Automate Fée Ondine, this exquisite creation is the result of years of work and an intense collaboration with automaton maker François Junod. Numerous craftsmen have also been involved in the creation of the automaton. This piece beautifully combines the house’s jewelry and watchmaking traditions while referencing its association with precious objects such as carriage and table clocks.
The highly complex mechanism animates various elements of the clock like fairy, a flower, a butterfly and a water lily leaf through an automaton movement that includes a large going barrel, fly governor, fusée-and-chain wound via a pinion and contrate wheel driving a large brass wheel and mounted on the arbour above the complicated pierced and notched cams.
Fifteen master craftsmen have helped create this unique clock from an enamellist who worked on the lily leaf and blossoms to the cabinetmakers who created the ebony veneer for the clock base and the lapidaries who contributed the white gold fairy in white gold using the lost wax casting method. Lapidaries, master jewelers and watchmakers also had invaluable input.
The automaton movement is hand-wound and animated on demand, with five cycles of 50 seconds when the mechanism is fully wound. A mechanical clock is integrated into the wooden base and features retrograde hours and an eight-day power reserve.