What Is A Midnight Planetarium Watch?

In the deep and fascinating world of horology, there’s a lot to remember. One can easily lose sight of just how spellbinding the careful and intricate assortment of features can be.

Once in a while, you come across something special. A special watch like the Midnight Planetarium watch from Van Cleef & Arpels.

The watch illustrates exquisite artistry and an elegant interplay of mechanics.  The timepiece is designed with a tiny solar system that revolves around the dial in perfect harmony. If you’ve used this watch for 29 years, you’d see Saturn complete its orbit around the dial. To completely understand this horological masterpiece, let’s delve deeper into its design and mechanics!

What Is A Midnight Planetarium Watch?

The Minds Behind the Solar System Watch

The flawless timepiece is part of Van Cleef & Arpels’ Poetic Complications collection, which includes wristwatches with elegant and precise mechanical animations. The Midnight Planetarium watch was designed to break the monotony of watchmaking. The Poetic Complication series combines the patient and gentle art of watchmaking with the thrilling secrets of astronomy, creating a truly unique masterpiece.

Midnight Planetarium watch on the wrist

With the goal of creating an extraordinary representation of the vast solar system, Van Cleef & Arpels employed the help and expertise of Christiaan Van Der Klaauw – the foremost astronomical horologer.

This is the company’s most complex timepiece to date. It’s a custom planetarium module that was developed by Christian van der Klaauw Astronomical Watches. This piece took two and a half years to be completed. Boasting a movement manufactured by the Richemont Group, the complicated mechanism comprises a total of 396 parts.

The most difficult part was to make the planetary mechanism both elegant and easy to operate. The timepiece was designed with two pushers that control the year, month, and day.

The Midnight’s Contemporary Design

Watches are typically designed for telling the time, right? But the Midnight solar system watch takes this mundane task one step further. The watch follows the orbits of the planets in our solar system. The six celestial bodies visible to the naked eye move around the dial, tracing their real-time motions around the sun. Meanwhile, a comet indicates the more practical time of day.

front view of Midnight Planetarium watch

A few years back, Van Cleef & Arpels developed a day-night watch, in which the sun and moon alternated over 24 hours for dominance on the dial. The timepiece was innovative and elegant, but not spectacular. Then, the company designed a constellation watch, a wrist-sized sky map as seen from the beautiful Paris sky. The timepiece was certainly more attractive but still wasn’t able to stimulate pure, unmitigated desire and fascination.

But then, they released the Midnight Planetarium, a timepiece designed with an alluring replica of our vast solar system.  It comprises all six planets visible to the naked eye from Earth. Each of them following its orbit in real-time around the tiny rose-gold sun. Mercury will complete its orbit in only 88 days. Saturn will diligently move around the dial for 29 years to complete a single orbit. You can even set a ‘lucky day,’ on which Earth will align with the star engraved on the sapphire face once a year. The timepiece is designed with a pink shooting star that moves around the outer orbit, indicating the 24 hours of the day.

Other Midnight Planetarium Watch Features

This watch’s pink rose gold case is not necessarily small and measures 44mm in diameter. The size goes perfectly with the modest thickness of the case, which measures about 13mm. As a result, the watch elegantly encapsulates the wrist, despite the structuring of the module on top of the movement.

side view of Midnight Planetarium watch

While the timepiece stays true to its roots as well by adding a hint of geology. Each celestial body is its own rock. With Mercury being a chunk of serpentine, blue agate for Jupiter, and turquoise for our home planet. Also chloromelanite for Venus, sugilite for Saturn, and lastly, red jasper for Mars.

Price and Availability

If you visit the Planetarium’s product page, you won’t find a price tag. This is because the masterpiece is a limited edition. It will be produced in quantities of twenty to thirty pieces per year. However, one of the most interesting things about this watch is that it isn’t an extremely rare piece, but a production model.

Considering other watches in the industry and those within the Poetic Complications collection itself, Van Cleef & Arpels has truly achieved something unique and wondrous. Usually, when companies try to create an ‘artistic’ timepiece, the result is often underwhelming. The watch either has too many finishes, too many diamonds, or an unmoving assortment of costly materials. Although the Midnight Planetarium is certainly a luxury object, it achieves much more. It captivates and entrances the long-enduring need to explore, admire, and explain the many secrets and mysteries of the universe.

Conclusion of the Midnight Planetarium Watch

The Midnight Planetarium watch enables you to carry not only the world but the entire universe with you at all times. Integrating the technical virility with the sheer marvel and wonder of the universe, Van Cleef & Arpels have truly achieved a horological masterpiece.

Interested in knowing more about unusual work-of-art timepieces in the world of horology? Check out our article on the Top 30 Ultra Unique Watches here.

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