Van Cleef & Arpels is a luxury French jewelry company that opened its production to wristwatches in the 1920’s. It was founded in 1896 by Alfred Van Cleef and his uncle Salomon Arpels. Their first boutique was opened in 1906 in Paris. The company is known for its unique, feminine high-end jewelry.
Van Cleef & Arpels specialty is precious stones. They don’t just incorporate stones into their work; they create stunning pieces of art with delicate placement, sizing, and coloring. They are most famous for creating, and mastering, what they call mystery-setting. It was truly a groundbreaking gem setting method. It involves immense skill and time to create a piece of jewelry with this technique. By the 1920’s wristwatches were more than just a way to tell the time. They became a fashion statement and were on the same level as jewelry. Van Cleef & Arpels began creating fine wristwatches and time pieces for women that incorporated jewelry. For example, their early Egyptian styles wristwatches looked like a fine bracelet encrusted with diamonds and colorful gems yet it featured a small watch. Van Cleef & Arpels are masters of creating watches that look like exquisite jewelry. They introduced broaches in the 1920s and 1930s that had a hidden watch.
Van Cleef & Arpels wristwatches begin in the high-luxury price range. They are difficult to get a hold of and very rare. Serious jewelry and, or, wristwatch collectors will want to include a Van Cleef & Arpels watch featuring mystery setting in their collection. The watches are absolutely divine pieces of art that any women would find dazzling.