A unique table clock merging two ancient crafts
At the age of 75, French glass designer and master jeweller René Lalique decided to illustrate the Greek myth of the sea nymph Arethusa – a chaste attendant to the goddess Artemis – who was pursued by the love-stricken river god Alpheus. To help her escape Alpheus’ attentions, Artemis intervened in the pursuit eventually transforming the nymph into a fresh-water spring in her temple.
Drawn to this fable of primordial emotions, Lalique in 1935 unveiled his Coutard Fountain – a crystal table clock depicting that very myth. A square crystal depicts visions of the curvaceous naiad amid crystal bubbles, two motifs that have become a signature of Lalique.
This year, master restorer and watchmaker Michel Parmigiani has teamed up with Lalique to recall its founder’s iconic creation with the Toric Lepine Special Edition Lalique. The ancient lost-wax casting technique (duplicating a new work from an existing sculpture) is employed to form the translucent Lalique crystal, bringing forth encircling nymphs and water droplets.
A recess in the centre of the case – where the clock was originally placed – now accommodates a 55mm Parmigiani pocket watch. Crafted from 950 platinum, the PF355 movement manual-winding timepiece evokes the same aquatic motifs as the case. From the front, a whirlpool of bubbles spread across the 18k gold and Grand Feu enamel blue dial. From the back, Arethusa herself is seen; her face framed by two fish in masque de femme style, embellished with, what else, Lalique crystals. The watch itself may be removed from the table clock configuration to be worn with a platinum chain.