Cover Lady Arpels Ballerine Musicale Diamant by Van Cleef & Arpels (Photo: Courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels)

The three watches have been added to the brand's Poetic Complications collection

George Balanchine’s Jewels is a full-length story ballet that was first performed in New York City in April 1967. Its three acts––Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds––were inspired by the three countries that Balanchine had called home: France, America, and Russia.

Fast forward to today, and Van Cleef & Arpels has unveiled three one-of-a-kind watches to pay tribute to the late-choreographer. This trio of stunning timepieces has been added to the house’s iconic Poetic Complications collection and have taken over 10 years to create.

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Each watch has been inspired by one of Jewels' three acts, and subsequently come set with either emeralds, rubies or diamonds. They also play music by either Gabriel Fauré, Igor Stravinsky or Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, respectively.

The watchmaker worked closely with Swiss concert musician Michel Tirabosco to simplify these complex musical arrangements to just two instruments. 

A birchwood and walnut marquetry music box uses an electronic amplifier to enrich the sound of the watch's four gongs, while a visual animation comes to life when the music starts to play. Each watch's dial depicts a pair of decadent opera curtains, which open to reveal ballerinas dressed in tutus.

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Van Cleef’s extraordinary ties to the ballet go back to the house's very inception in 1896. Alfred Van Cleef (who ran the company alongside his father-in-law) and his wife Estelle Arpels were both dedicated patrons of the arts.

And in the 1940s, Van Cleef began designing its breathtaking Ballerina brooches. Rendered in gold and set with sparkling gemstones, they depict playful ballerinas that burst with personality.

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