The world of horology isn’t only located in Switzerland. There are talented watchmakers worldwide, and the Netherlands is no stranger to creating fine timepieces. One of the most prominent and enduring names on the Dutch scene is, without a doubt, Christiaan van der Klaauw. A man recognised by his peers for his involvement in astronomical timepieces, the brand that bears his name has undergone an important change recently when master watchmaker Pim Koeslag (ex-Frederique Constant) acquired a majority stake in CVDK. And today, the first watches created under this new management have been presented. It’s a brand classic, tastefully redesigned without compromising the brand’s DNA… Here are the new Christiaan van der Klaauw Ariadne watches.
Christiaan van der Klaauw is amongst the most famous watchmakers in the Netherlands. He was born and raised in the city of Leiden, where Christiaan Huygens, the greatest Dutch scientist of all time, started his studies. It’s not surprising then that Mr Klaauw has always infused astronomy into his watches. Indeed, CVDK is entirely dedicated to watches with astronomical complications. The best example of this inspiration is also the brand’s most famous watch, the Planetarium, a marvel of miniaturisation that displays the solar system on the wrist. This speciality and the man’s ingenuity were rewarded by his peers, as he’s an honourable member of the AHCI.
The watch we’ll be talking about today is a bit more classic. It might not be as complex as the Planetarium, but it is true to the philosophy of van der Klaauw and features a series of complications that can be related to astronomy. This watch, the Christiaan van der Klaauw Ariadne, has been around for many years and uses a classic combination of an automatic chronograph and a complete calendar with an elegant pointer date, a day-night indication and a moon phase display.
In the past, this watch has been released with a silvery-white dial with a stamped guilloché pattern in either gold or stainless steel cases. Some of the editions even had a hand-guilloché dial by Jochen Benzinger, and there’s even been a very technical version with a carbon fibre dial.
However, the brand is now under new management. Dutch master watchmaker Pim Koeslag joined the brand as co-owner and technical director, acquiring a majority stake in the brand. For the record, the man has been the driving force behind the Swiss-Dutch brand Frederique Constant from 2003 and 2022, as well as the co-founder of high-end brand Ateliers DeMonaco. The new, redesigned Christiaan van der Klaauw Ariadne models you see here are the first watches to leave the workshops under his leadership. The idea of Koeslag wasn’t to change everything; the brand has a strong DNA and its own personality, and Koeslag is fully aware of that. However, there are some notable evolutions that, in all fairness, are changing everything you knew about the model, bringing a fresh and more modern look to the brand and watches.
What has changed? Technically, not much, as we’re still talking about an automatic chronograph with a calendar complication and moon phases. Visually, however, the dials of these new Ariadne watches are entirely different – sleeker, more modern, and bolder in style and colour. And even though the basic elements of the dial have been kept, the treatment of the surfaces, the choice of colours, the contrast and the decoration elevate the watch substantially.
Before we take a closer look at what is really important in these new Christiaan van der Klaauw Ariadne models, let’s talk about what hasn’t changed. The three new references are cased in typical 40mm CVDK stainless steel cases. Fully polished, the case has gentle curves and straight elongated lugs with a screw-like cabochon. Another distinctive element of previous Ariadne watches that hasn’t changed is the combination of the signature onion-shaped crown and highly attractive chronograph pushers with a so-called double gadroon. The case is framed by sapphire crystals on both sides and, all in all feels very much CVDK.
In the same vein, the movement and the display, two characteristic elements of the Ariadne, are almost untouched. Inside the case is the calibre CVDK7758, which you might have guessed is based on the tried-and-tested Valjoux 7750 architecture. This movement is fully equipped here, with a complete calendar and a moon phase. It indicates the date on the periphery of the dial – a so-called pointer date, very elegant – as well as the day of the week and the month in windows at 12 o’clock. At 6 o’clock, there’s a moon indicator, and at 9 o’clock, there is a 24h scale acting as a day-and-night indicator. And, of course, the Ariadne is also a chronograph, with central seconds and 30-minute and 12-hour totalisers. And all the elements live perfectly well together. In fact, the new dial design improves the overall legibility of a watch that comprises no fewer than 8 hands and 3 discs.
Looking through the sapphire caseback, you can see the familiar Valjoux base movement with classic decorative touches, including blue screws, circular graining and Geneva stripes. What really elevates the movement is the rotor. It is done by famous engraver Jochen Benzinger and reveals a guilloché pattern and a hand-engraved gold-plated sun… which is the brand’s logo, also named the “Sun with 12 Claws” (because Klaauw means claw…)
Let’s now talk about the important evolution to be found in these 2023 editions of the Christiaan van der Klaauw Ariadne. It’s all about the design of the dial and how it plays on textures and contrasts. The watch is now available in three versions: a classic silver colour; a more contrasted anthracite tone; and finally, a slightly sportier navy blue option. The first has contrasted blue accents on the hands and numerals, and the other two have silver-toned accents.
Looking closely at all three editions, there is far more depth and playfulness. The level of contrast, even on the almost monochromatic silver edition, has been drastically improved by the use of different textures, which results in a watch that is both more modern and easier to read. And yes, it is simply more interesting, more luxurious altogether. Whatever the chosen colour, the dials of the new Christiaan van der Klaauw Ariadne have a frosted background with raised circular brushed rings around the sub-dials in a contrasting silver colour. These new dials are paired with elegant applied Breguet numerals and hands – just like the now-discontinued editions. And now, CVDK’s logo stands proudly on the dial at 3 o’clock, with a strong three-dimensional effect.
The new editions of the Christiaan van der Klaauw Ariadne are now available for order from the brand and will be part of the permanent collection. These are worn on alligator straps, closed by a sun-shaped steel folding clasp. The price is EUR 8,450 (incl. taxes). For more details, please visit www.klaauw.com.