Warning: Undefined array key -1 in /home/objektso/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 330
Arceau Hermes story marquetry copyright Anita Schlaefli

ARCEAU Hermès story

A new adventure in the watchmaking jungle

Persistent echoes sweep across the savannah and rumours whisper through creepers and ruffle endless meadows: Hermès Horloger is unveiling a new watch connected to life, play and imagination, while highlighting exceptional expertise.

The Hermès story won’t make the front page of its timeline. It is intimate, discreet, gently caressing the skin. And while selfies and likes will figure prominently, the idea is to play with them, with the free-spirited impertinence that characterises Hermès watchmaking, which is recreational, playful, and enriched by the many arts and crafts it has perpetuated since its creation. Under the skilled hands of in-house artisans, wood marquetry, miniature painting and engraving create a unique and playful composition.

This fanciful spirit has driven the Arceau since 1978, when Henri d’Origny saw a watch with half of it hidden under a leaf. Amused by the idea of deliberately ditching any idea of perfect symmetry, his Arceau would have only one lug. He wanted to shape it like a stirrup, evoking the equestrian ancestry of Hermès the saddle maker. The timeless object would become one of the aesthetic signatures of his/ watchmaking.

Nearly 45 years later, this discreet master stroke is once again the backdrop for a new watchmaking fantasy. The Arceau Hermès story plays with time and goes beyond fashion. The all-digital world is expressed through age-old artisanal skills in which chisels and scorpers reign supreme, giving life to shimmering mother-of-pearl reflections and hand-sculpted gold volumes.

The Hermès story, a tale of timeless beauty

The story was born from the lively pencil of English designer John Burton, who recently designed the Hermès Story silk scarf in the spring/summer 2022 collection. In this work, he reinterprets the uses of social media, the singular art of staging, an offbeat universe that he depicts beneath the gaze of various fauna amused by the selfie exercise. The giraffe has donned his best bow tie, the toucan his top hat and the turtle his hat – which is of course a bowler by the very British John Burton! At the centre of the scene, a rider on a wooden horse in full regalia captures this improbable animal reunion, which is already giving rise to a few “likes”.

The two Arceau Hermès Story watches capture the essence of these fantasy animals. The first version, issued in a 12-piece limited and numbered edition, features a tiger composed of wood marquetry. The feline with turquoise eyes combines plum, tulipwood, ash-olive, maple, and sycamore in 290 pieces of wood patiently cut, stained, and assembled one by one. The tiger alone requires five days of work to render all its nuances and subtleties.

Another scene, another craft: a white gold version in a 24-piece limited and numbered edition features miniature painting on mother-of-pearl. Varnished, polished, and smoothed by hand, it is adorned with twenty or so layers of multiple colours designed to reveal its subtle nuances and shimmering reflections. Eight days and a few firings in the oven later, the magic happens: the princess appears on her wooden horse at the heart of an animal circle where toucan, turtle, peacock, swallow, and rabbit vie for the best spot in a countryside selfie.

Arceau Hermès Story Marquetry – Technical Characteristics

Limited and numbered edition of 12

  • MOVEMENT
    • Manufacture Hermès H1912 movement
    • Mechanical self-winding, Swiss made
    • Diameter: 23.30 mm
    • Thickness: 3.9 mm
    • Power reserve: 50 hours
    • Frequency: 28,800 vibrations per hour / 4Hz
    • Functions: Hours, minutes
    • Decoration: Circular-grained and snailed baseplate, satin-brushed bridges and oscillating weight, with signature ‘sprinkling of Hs’ pattern, rhodium-plated oscillating weight.
  • CASE
    • Shape / size: Round, 38 mm diameter
    • Material: Rose gold, bezel set with 82 diamonds
    • Glass: Anti-glare sapphire crystal and case-back
    • Water-resistant to 3 bar
  • DIAL
    • Dial with miniature painting on agate, wood marquetry, engraved and hand-painted gold appliques
  • STRAP
    • Chantilly alligator
Arceau Hermès story marquetry ©Anita Schlaefli
Arceau Hermès Story Marquetry ©Anita Schlaefli

Arceau Hermes Story Mother of Pearl – Technical Characteristics

Limited and numbered edition of 24

  • MOVEMENT
    • Manufacture Hermès H1912 movement
    • Mechanical self-winding, Swiss made
    • Diameter: 23.30 mm
    • Thickness: 3.9 mm
    • Power reserve: 50 hours
    • Frequency: 28,800 vibrations per hour / 4Hz
    • Functions: Hours, minutes
    • Decoration: Circular-grained and snailed baseplate, satin-brushed bridges and oscillating weight, with signature ‘sprinkling of Hs’ pattern, rhodium-plated oscillating weight.
  • CASE
    • Shape / size: Round, 38 mm diameter
    • Material: White gold, bezel set with 82 diamonds
    • Glass: Anti-glare sapphire crystal and case-back
    • Water-resistant to 3 bar
  • DIAL
    • Miniature painted on natural white mother of pearl
  • STRAP
    • Pastel blue alligator
Arceau Hermès story mother of pearl ©Anita Schlaefli
Arceau Hermès Story Mother of Pearl ©Anita Schlaefli

For more information about Hermès in South Africa