Monochrome Watches
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The New Hermès Arceau Squelette – Smoked Dial and Smaller Case

The Arceau watch performs a tasteful striptease revealing its openworked movement.

| By Rebecca Doulton | 3 min read |
Hermès Arceau Squelette 2020

The elegant asymmetrical Arceau watch by Hermès reveals its openworked mechanical heart through a smoky sapphire crystal on the dial. Following in the footsteps of the former 41mm Arceau Squelette watches, this new model shrinks slightly in size to 40mm and features an intriguing smoked sapphire crystal that gets darker as it reaches the chapter ring. Let’s look at the new Hermès Arceau Squelette.

Hermès Arceau Squelette 2020


The stirrup-shaped lugs and ‘galloping’ slanted Arabic numerals of the Arceau watch take us back to the origins of Hermès that started life in 1837 as a producer of harnesses and saddles in Paris. Equestrian motifs have always been popular at Hermès, one of the oldest family-owned and run luxury companies in France. The distinctive lines of the Arceau were designed by Henri d’Origny in 1978, the celebrated artistic director of Hermès who defined le gout Hermès during his six decades at the Parisian Maison. Perhaps the most famous iteration of the Arceau was the poetic Temps Suspendu that could literally suspend time on demand. More recently, the cosmic Arceau l’Heure de la Lune, with its rotating indications and two moons, won the Calendar and Astronomy watch prize at the GPHG 2019.

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Hermès Arceau Squelette 2020

Gradient smoked crystal

The 40mm round stainless steel case of this Hermès Arceau Squelette is polished and features the distinctive asymmetrical stirrup-inspired lugs designed by Henri d’Origny. The top lug has a larger space separating it from the case corresponding to the part of the stirrup where a horse rider would place his boot. The gradient-shaded sapphire crystal over the dial is smoked in the centre and gradually intensifies to black on the chapter ring. The ‘galloping’ Arabic numerals are also openworked and outlined in silvery powder like the round minute markers.

Hermès Arceau Squelette 2020

Mechanical movement revealed

The contemporary finishes of the mechanical Swiss automatic movement powering the hours and minutes appear from underneath the smoked glass. The openworked bridges and mainplate are treated with circular graining and the anthracite wheels play a game of hide and seek, depending on the light. The oscillating weight is also skeletonised and features a stylized H. The movement is outsourced and based on a Sellita SW 300 architecture that has been skeletonised. The movement beats at 28,800vph and has a 42h power reserve.

Hermès straps

As you would expect from a brand that is famous the world over for its exquisite leather goods, watch straps are handcrafted with as much care as the famous Kelly bag. This Arceau Squelette is offered with a choice of five different colours of alligator leather: black, graphite, abyss blue, Havana and the classic and highly versatile Hermès Étoupe (warm greyish-brown). Alligator straps are made from the softer belly skin of the alligator, which yields material for just four to six straps. Every strap is stitched by hand to create the distinctive saddler’s seam and made from start to finish by the same artisan. The price of this Hermès Arceau Squelette has not yet confirmed but expect around EUR 7,000.

Hermès Arceau Squelette 2020

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2 responses

  1. Cool watch, I love the skeleton workings behind the semi transparent smoky dial. It’s much more visually interesting than a typical skeleton style watch, creates a sense of depth and I have wondered for a long time why nobody had done this before (at least I haven’t seen it before). I think it would look great on some of Zenith’s Defy watches.

  2. Bravo! This adds so much visual interest and elegance to a traditional skeleton watch. Ming has done some smoked dials as a micro brand but I agree that it’s odd we don’t see them more from the big brands. Perhaps it’s a big to avant-garde for them, but a perfect fit for a company like Hermes. Kudos to the design team on this one. Not sure about the one-sided wire lug, but I’d love to try one of these on.

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