Watches are for telling time, but this planetarium watch steps it up by following the orbits of planets in our solar system. Mercury through Saturn move around the dial tracing the real-time motion of planets around the sun while a comet marks the more practical time of day.
Pragmatically speaking, I don't need a watch to tell me the location of the planets or the phase of the moon. But aesthetically and emotionally speaking, this astronomy watch is a facet of geek-chic that has me utterly entranced with its elegant complexity.
A few years ago, Van Cleef & Arpels built a day-night watch where the sun and moon alternate over 24 hours for dominance on the watch face. It's nice enough, but not spectacular. Then they built a constellation watch (with matching cufflinks!), a wrist-sized skymap as seen from Paris. That was more attractive, but still not enough to provoke unmitigated covetous yearning.
But then this year they came out with Midnight Planétarium, a watch dominated by a dynamic replica of our solar system. It contains all six planets that are naked-eye visible from Earth, each orbiting in true-time around the tiny rose gold sun. Mercury will whip around in just 88 days, while Saturn will laboriously journey for 29 years to make one complete orbit. The owner can set a "lucky day" for the Earth to align with a star engraved on the enclosing sapphire face once per year.
For more mundane time-telling, the pink shooting star around the outer orbit tracks out 24 hours in a day. Apparently knowing time to the nearest 15 minute interval is good enough when you can afford a watch this fancy.
For a hint of geology amongst the astronomy, each planet is its own rock. Mercury is a chunk of serpentine, chloromelanite for Venus, turquoise for the blue rock we call home, red jasper for Mars, blue agate for Jupiter, and sugilite for Saturn.
It isn't scientifically perfect: aside from having the size of the planets at a totally different scale than the distances between them, the orbital distances aren't to scale at all. This has a practical function, reducing the solar system to a size that is feasible to fit on a watch face, but it also makes the clockwork more complicated by demanding different velocities for each ring of the watch.
If you're wondering why the product page has no avenue for purchase or a pricetag, that's because this wonder of watchmaking is a limited-edition. Only 396 will ever be made in 18k rose gold, ranging from $245,000 for the plain version up to $330,000 for the watch with added diamond-sparkle. This watch is so far out of my pricerange, it has its own visual-effects laden trailer with dramatic music.
The watch is part of the appropriately-named Poetic Complications collection, a series of designs that are a more emotional than practical. Here's the CEO Nicholas Bos explaining just how beautiful this watch is in tracing out the orbital dance of the planets: