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If the world of watches had its own Oscars, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) would be it.

It takes place every year at Geneva, the historical capital of watchmaking, and while it may not boast the fanfare of a music or film awards ceremony, it certainly has its share of stars. Namely, the horological offerings of luxury watch and jewellery brands from around the world — Breitling, Vacheron Constantin and Bulgari, to name a few.

This year, Van Cleef & Arpels was among the list of winners specially chosen by the GPHG’s jury. The French jeweller bagged the prestigious Jewellery Watch Prize, an accolade bestowed upon creations that show off both the art of jewellery and a mastery of the craft.

The winning design in question? The Frivole Secrète watch, a gold masterpiece made with diamond-set flowers that conceal a sparkling watch dial.

It’s one of the highlights of Van Cleef & Arpels’ Frivole collection, comprising of nature-inspired jewels that feature the blooming floral motif you see all over the watch. The heart-shaped petals are all mirror-polished by the hands of the Maison’s craftsmen, which brings out an intense glow from the gold timepiece.

The Frivole Secrète watch, with dial exposed. (Photo credit: Van Cleef & Arpels)
The Frivole Secrète watch, with dial concealed. (Photo credit: Van Cleef & Arpels)

It was certainly enough to outshine the other watches from Dior, Chopard and Piaget that were competing in the same category. Ironically, while those were lavishly embellished with sapphires, rubies and other precious gems, the Frivole Secrète is marked by its comparably sparing use of diamonds (only the highest quality stones are selected).

Appearances aside, the timepiece is also a technical marvel. Van Cleef & Arpels designed a secret mechanism that allows some of the watch’s flowers to seamlessly pivot away, revealing its diamond-encrusted dial. If anyone would get such a complex design right, it would be the French jeweller; it has been creating stunning secret watches like the Frivole Secrète since the 1930s.

Each petal of the Frivole Secrète is individually polished. (Photo credit: Van Cleef & Arpels)
Here, the watch's dial and secret mechanism are being assembled. (Photo credit: Van Cleef & Arpels)

There is definitely more than meets the eye to this year’s Jewellery Watch Prize winner. You can say the same for the rest of Van Cleef & Arpels’ Frivole collection, which has long been a signature for the French brand. Through those floral jewellery pieces, Van Cleef & Arpels continues to showcase its distinctive savoir-faire with an elegant simplicity that everyone can appreciate.

Discover the Frivole Secrète watch on Van Cleef & Arpels’ website.

Header photo credit: Van Cleef & Arpels

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