By Rebecca Doulton
The Cadenas, created in 1935, was inspired by the American socialite Wallis Simpson and has gone on to become one of the most iconic Van Cleef & Arpels watches. This sleek and slinky bracelet watch transports you straight back to the Art Deco era of streamlined, architectural designs and allowed women to consult the time discretely while enjoying the elegance of a high jewellery bracelet.
When it comes to exceptional high jewellery pieces from the last century, the Duchess of Windsor crops up with surprising frequency. Wallis Simpson was not only rich but enjoyed the generous gifts given to her by her husband, who didn't think twice about abandoning the throne for her charms. All the grand high jewellery houses of the day acquiesced to her petitions, including Van Cleef & Arpels, who made the stunning Zip diamond necklace for the Duchess.
The original Van Cleef & Arpels Cadenas watch of the 1930s featured a double gold snake chain attached to the wrist by an angular padlock-shaped clasp. Revisited by the maison some 80 years later, some tweaks have been made to the dial, the stone setting and the clasp. The watch, which respects its original inclined position, gains in readability with an enlarged dial and 12 hour markers.
This timely revision of one of the most instantly recognisable Van Cleef & Arpels watches of all time is offered in nine different models presented on gold bracelets or alligator leather straps. The yellow gold version features a mother-of pearl dial, while the Cadenas Sertie models, in yellow and white gold, have a sprinkling of snow-set diamonds on the top of the case. For an impeccable high jewellery effect, the Cadenas Pavée models gleam with white diamond - the upper surface of the case adorned with princess-cut diamonds and the case, clasp and dial set with a mantle of snow-set round diamonds. For a touch of colour, there is also the Cadenas Pavée Saphirs Roses in rose gold with pink sapphires on the top of the case.