Van Cleef & Arpels is best known as a creator of opulent jewellery and watches informed by a certain Parisian sense of style. But since the luxury maison was founded at the start of the 20th century, it has also specialised in a field that receives far less publicity: creating whimsical, enigmatic objects imbued with a sense of wonder and enchantment. So it’s fitting that Van Cleef & Arpels marked this year’s Watches and Wonders with a little bit of both: a dazzling new horological creation as well as three of the distinctive automata that characterise the brand’s exploration of groundbreaking pieces that are both charmingly offbeat and technically breathtaking. A watch that offers up a different appearance depending on what time of day you look at it, the Lady Arpels Heures Florales is both a daringly innovative piece of watchmaking and the fulfilment of the vision of one of the fathers of modern science. In his 1751 book Philosophia Botanica , the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus – often referred to as the father of modern taxonomy – detailed the notion of the horologium florae, or floral clock, in which a garden filled with plants that open at different times of the day can be used to tell the time. STYLE Edit: Inside Van Cleef & Arpels’ Frivole and Two Butterfly collections The Lady Arpels Heures Florales turns that dream into reality, with a three dimensional dial featuring 12 corollas that open and close at different times, changing the appearance of the dial every 60 minutes. They are powered by a special module, developed by the maison’s craftsmen in Geneva, which features 166 moving elements. There are two versions, both with 38mm cases: the Lady Arpels Heures Florales comes in white, with blue and green flowers, while the Lady Arpels Heures Florales Cerisier combines a rose gold case with flowers in pink and red. Among the three new automata unveiled at Watches and Wonders is a piece that continues the maison’s recent fascination with planetariums, which began in 2014 with the Midnight Planétarium watch. The new Planétarium automaton animates the Sun, the Earth and Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in gold and a startling profusion of precious stones and other materials, with each one moving at its genuine speed of rotation. Engaging the animation causes a shooting star to appear and lead the planets in a delightful dance. The animation of the Fontaine aux Oiseaux automaton involves just as many moving parts. Two birds are animated at the edge of the basin, and begin to sing and engage in an elaborate courtship dance, alongside a blooming water lily and a dragonfly that rises into the air – and the surface of the water in the basin starts to ripple. Again in gold, precious stones and a dazzling variety of fine craft techniques, it features a 12-hour retrograde time display along the side of the base. STYLE Edit: Van Cleef & Arpels launches dazzling new Extraordinary Dials watches When the Rêveries de Berylline automaton is animated, a flower blooms to reveal a beautiful hummingbird, which takes flight before returning to the flower’s embrace. They’re set on an attractively mottled, two-part base made of two pieces of red porphyry and one of lapis lazuli. Want more stories like this? Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .