Van Cleef & Arpels Louis de Meckenheim, Marketing Watch Manager, speaks to us

by 27 January 2011

Luxos interviews Louis de Meckenheim, Marketing Watch Manager of Van Cleef & Arpels

How did you become interested in watches in the beginning?
At a young age, I loved my father's and grandfather's watch collections. On my 18th birthday, my father gave me a beautiful, vintage extra flat watch, which I wear very often even today. It's still my favourite watch because it has so much emotion. Ever since, I never stopped collecting watches. One day, I got the opportunity to work at Van Cleef & Arpels and develop watches. They are my personal passion, which has become my everyday job, so I am very lucky in life.

What do you hope people can get from their watches?
When you purchase a Van Cleef & Arpels creation, you can expect much more than just seeing the time. Nowadays, you can see the time on your cellphone, on your microwave and so on, but we offer so much more. Customers expect their Van Cleef & Arpels watches to be inspirational, to conjure up escapism, and to transmit positive and universal values.

What are Van Cleef & Arpels' universal values?
All our sources of inspiration are universal values: nature, love, femininity, grace, the arts and craft. This year we present a wide variety of landscape: Africa, the North Pole… Love is also our universal value. Last year, we presented the "Le Pont des Amoureux" watch that depicted a scene between lovers. This year, our theme is maternal love, inspired by Jules Verne's "Les Voyages Extraordinaires."

How does the Van Cleef & Arpels team come up with new ideas?
Nicolas Bos, our Vice President, works with our creative director to come up with a new theme every year for all the jewellery and watch collections. My role is like an orchestra conductor, an intermediary between the creative workshop, the markets, and the research and development facilities in Geneva.

Do you have a typical day?
Well, I have a typical week. The first two days of the week are dedicated to creativity, working on designs in the workshop. Over the next two days, I work with different markets: the Middle East, Europe, Asia Pacific, the U.S. and so on. I get to know their needs such as production amount, design, ecetera. And very importantly, I am also in charge of special watch orders. On the fifth day, we work with the Geneva facilities to see the development and production of the design.

A Van Cleef & Arpels watch is so much watch than just a timepiece. How does the maison achieve this?
We are 100% emotion, and both our design and movement aim to generate genuine feelings. In a Van Cleef & Arpels watch, diverse textures, different perspective, and exclusive materials all lead to a moment of awe. Above all, Van Cleef & Arpels does not compromise. Each watch is the result of a very long process of design, development, and years of brand DNA. We are fully committed to the quality of the stones, the art of making the dials, the craftsmanship of the piece, and of course, to the presentation to the customer. Our goal is to provide an amazing experience, whether they come to our boutiques or one of our high jewellery events. We want them to be happy not only with the moment, but also with the creation.

So what are the maison's specialties?
One of our greatest creativities is the Extraordinary Dials which combine several arts: enamelling, marquetry, gold sculpting, stone setting and so on. The Extraordinary Dials are a result of bringing a design to life, by uniting the jeweller's and watchmaker's expertise.

Then, we also have the Poetique Complications. They are complicated movements that generate an emotion. For example, the "Le Pont des Amoureux" watch is powered by a complicated movement, depicting a scene where two lovers kiss in a perfect place, on a perfect day, in the heart of Paris. We collaborated with a brilliant independent watchmaker called Jean-Marc Widerrecht to create this watch.

The stunning Makis motif watch, our high jewellery timepiece, features lemurs playing on a tree. There is a secret where the simplistic dial is revealed when the lemur opens the opulently-set flower. It's a great balance between exuberance and elegance. This watch took 1500 hours, which is 10 months of work, to create this watch. It is part of our "Five Weeks in a Balloon" collection.

Read more:
The full interview with more photos
Van Cleef & Arpels CEO interview
Our coverage of the Top 10 Watches in the World
Van Cleef & Arpels boutique listings worldwide
New gold luxury jewelry by Van Cleef & Arpels