Van Cleef & Arpels Poetic Midnight Planétarium Watch – Sets The Bar Astronomically High With Their Latest Creation


And yes, you did read that right. The Midnight Planétarium is an automatic piece. But unlike most manufacturers who simply inscribe their logo or skeletonise the rotor; Van Cleef & Arpels put stars on theirs, a nice little cosmic touch to this already stellar timepiece. If their astro-rotors can’t wow you, then maybe you’ve noticed that there are two Rolex-like magnifiers on the glass? Yeah, that’s the really clever bit, you see, they’re actually magnifying the calendar that’s built into the back. And in case while gazing at the inner workings you miss the jewels that represent the planets on the other side, Van Cleef & Arpels has put another set of them on the back, sort of like a legend on a map. I’ll bet you’re thinking that this watch is more of a wrist-held Ordnance Survey map of the sky rather than a timepiece.


That’s the only place that this watch falls short, it’s the big ‘L’. In the horologists alphabet L is for Legibility, the one thing this watch doesn’t have. It feels like it contains more jewels than the Breguet Crazy Flower, but that doesn’t mean you can understand it. The fact that this watch has no lume means that at night it’s going to be hard to read. But in this day and age watchmakers can afford to take chances as the majority of their customers carry smartphones anyway, Or maybe someone actually finds the locations of the planets in the sky more useful than telling her indoors where you are every 5 minutes? We haven’t decided yet.


This watch is 44mm in diameter, so in other words it’s quite large for a dressier piece. It’s nowhere near the biggest either, but the design of the dial means that it’ll look at home on any sized wrist. A deal breaker could be that it’s not water resistant, so hot tub parties with all those bikini ladies are not places for the Midnight Planétarium.

In my opinion, I think it’s possibly the most beautiful timepiece ever and I feel privileged to have been able to take a look at it, even though boutique brands aren’t really my forte (except MB&F). I feel that this could make that possible  I mentioned a definite if they added a small moon orbiting the Earth, but that’s very complex. Even so, it has the ability to make you take your eyes off the actual night sky, especially easy considering the dial looks to be sprinkled with fairy dust. For those wondering about the power reserve, keep it on the winder and you’ll never need to know. Offered for $245,000 or $330,000 for extra diamonds. For more info, please visit

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Harlan Chapman-Green – Contributing Writer

First introduced to horology with the Patek Philippe Calibre 89 by his father two years ago, Harlan enjoys his passion for fine horology. He prefers to spend his time in the boutiques of upmarket brands, trying out new pieces constantly. His preferred 3 brands are A. Lange & Söhne, Breguet and Vacheron Constantin. Although not much for the smaller brands, he still finds the complications intriguing and wishes to own one watch from each of his three favourites. Read his articles here.