Monochrome Watches
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The Festive Scenery of the Hermès Arceau Costume de Fête

Inspired by Polish folk culture, the Arceau flaunts a colourful handcrafted dial combining leather marquetry, miniature painting and sequins.

| By Rebecca Doulton | 3 min read |

Hermès started life in 1837 as a purveyor of quality saddles and harnesses, and equestrian motifs permeate almost all the Parisian brand’s creations. Along with its coveted leather goods, silk scarves are an in-house staple, often designed in collaboration with leading artists. Creativity flows in all directions at Hermès, and designs found on silk scarves often cross over into watchmaking. The latest Arceau watch, with the iconic stirrup-shaped lugs, flaunts a colourful dial inspired by a silk scarf designed for Hermès by Polish artist Jan Batjlik and hand-decorated with original métiers d’art.

The Arceau watch was 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. His vision for the Arceau was to capture the equestrian spirit of the Maison with stirrup-shaped lugs and ‘galloping’ slanted Arabic numerals. Often selected to flaunt beautiful artisanal dials, this year we’ve seen the Wow! model with Ugo Bienvenu’s comic heroine galloping around Paris, also inspired by a silk scarf. Another silk scarf-inspired model released a few months ago was the incredible Masan Masan pocket watch decorated with horsehair marquetry.

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The latest Arceau Costume de Fête borrows a detail from the lively representation of a Polish wedding depicted on a silk scarf by graphic designer and illustrator Jan Bajtlik. Using traditional Krakow costumes and ornaments, his artwork draws on the popular Polish art of paper cut-outs (wycinanki).

Focusing on one area of the silk scarf, artisans at Hermès have recreated the horse pulling the carriage of the bride and groom, brought to life with leather marquetry, sequins and miniature painting.

Leather marquetry is used to recreate the horse’s head and rearing front legs using 0.5mm thick cut-out pieces of colourful leather applied to the dial. Once the tiny pieces of leather are arranged on the right side of the dial, the artist accentuates details of the horse’s harness with micro-painting. To highlight the festive spirit of the wedding, the horse and surrounding scenery are festooned with six shiny sequins sewn with copper wire and brightly coloured tesserae (miniature rectangular tiles used in mosaic). The left area of the dial is dominated by a floral motif composed of colourful glossy tiles applied to a cut-out and sculpted metal base.

The watch is available in 38mm white gold or rose gold cases set with 82 diamonds on the bezel. The dial of the white gold version features a predominantly pink, beige and orange palette and comes with a Sakura pink calfskin strap; the rose gold version has a blue, green and pink colour scheme and is fitted with an Electric blue calfskin strap.

You can see the Hermès H1912 calibre made by Vaucher in Fleurier (Hermès has a 25% stake in the manufacture since 2006). Operating at 28,800 vibrations per hour, this high-grade automatic movement can store up to 50 hours of power reserve and is decorated with ‘H’ motifs on the bridges and rotor.

Availability & Price

Limited to 24 pieces in each gold, the Arceau Costume de Fête retails for EUR 65,000 or CHF 64,000 in rose gold (ref. 403169WW00), and EUR 70,000 or CHF 69,000 in white gold (ref. 403453WW00).

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