Van Cleef & Arpels has been making exquisite timepieces from the very start With high-end mechanical watches becoming increasingly popular, many top jewellery names have been bringing out their own collections of timepieces in recent years. Van Cleef & Arpels caught on to the idea a little earlier than most - almost a century ago. 'We may be focused on high jewellery and bijoux creations, but we have been making watches since the very beginning,' said Benjamin Vuchot, managing director of Van Cleef & Arpels Asia Pacific. Mr Vuchot said watch sales accounted for 15 per cent of the annual turnover of the Parisian brand, which was founded in 1906. 'Van Cleef & Arpels has this kind of stamping to be an exceptional high-jewellery brand, and we are proud to follow that,' Mr Vuchot said. 'We try to keep the level of excellency up in terms of the selection of stones and settings. We are very well known for the quality of our stones. You can really tell the difference.' The brand's design philosophy was a blend of creativity and classicism, creating feminine watches that often featured playful dual functions. 'Many of our jewellery watches detach and can be used as a pendant,' he said. 'Gimmick is not the right word, but it is fun. We have one design that is made to look like a zipper - not many jewellers would dare to do these things.' Mr Vuchot said one of his favourites from this year's collection of timepieces is the Alhambra, a simple gold bijoux watch in the shape of a four-leafed clover. 'It doesn't have any diamonds but it is very feminine,' he said. 'It's a shape watch at a very reasonable price.' Available in either 24mm or 29mm cases, the design is an extension to one of the brand's best-selling jewellery lines, which has been going since 1974. Another highlight from the collection is the Secret, which this year has been given a mother-of-pearl dial. Concealed inside a case that is entirely covered with brilliant-cut diamonds, the watch is like tiny drawer that is pulled out by a tag attached to the crown. The Secret remains one of the brand's top sellers in Asia. 'Our women's watches are very feminine. They are not very big,' Mr Vuchot said. 'Even though the trend is for larger watches, we are not really part of that trend.' One-fifth of the brand's timepiece turnover comes from men's watches. The men's collection takes a very different tack from the ladies' watches. 'The men's watches focus on the complexity and technical side of the movement, with just a touch of jewellery to show the VCA heritage,' Mr Vuchot said. 'Men will not wear something if it is too feminine.' This year, the brand has launched its debut tourbillon in the Mr Arpels range. In a playful touch, the designers used the Van Cleef & Arpels logo as its second hand, laid across which is a design of the famous column outside the brand's boutique in the Place Vendome in Paris. For the first time, the company is using its own mechanical movements. Other complications in the range include an alarm model and a dual time zone watch. Mr Vuchot said exclusivity was one of the brand's main selling points. 'We have only 40 boutiques worldwide,' he said. 'We only select the best locations to make sure we create the image for the brand.'