Colourful and Daring, The Hermès Arceau WOW Models
Miniature painting on both sides of a mother-of-pearl dial depict Ugo Bienvenu’s comic book heroine.
One of France’s oldest family-owned and run luxury companies, Hermès started life in 1837 as a producer of harnesses and saddles in Paris. Renowned for its impeccable artisanal craftsmanship and intrepid artistic flair, Hermès has always welcomed creative talent from outside to keep its products fresh. The latest Arceau models feature comic book artist Ugo Bienvenu’s heroine depicted on horseback galloping across the double-sided mother-of-pearl dial. Embracing the brand’s flair for combining shapes, colours and volumes, these two limited-edition 38mm white gold Arceau models feature miniature hand-painted illustrations inspired by Ugo Bienvenu’s Wow scarf for Hermès.
From Scarf to Dial
Hermès began producing luxurious silk scarves in 1937 and discovered a method of creating double-sided scarves. Inviting artists to collaborate, some of these scarves have become highly collectable works of art that often play with the brand’s penchant for equestrian motifs. Two years ago, Ugo Bienvenu designed a double-sided scarf for Hermès named Wow! Using typical square comic strip panels and a central circle, the heroine is depicted zooming around Paris on jet skis, rollerblades, cars and on horseback, to the astonishment of two golf players who conclude that she can only be the Hermès woman. The Amazon is depicted on both sides of the scarf; the main side features her in multicolour, while the reverse side sticks to a monochromatic colour scheme.
Bienvenu’s two-sided scarf design is now featured on the dial of two 38mm white gold Arceau watches one in pink tones and the other in bluish ones. To replicate the two different faces of the silk scarf, Hermès chose translucent mother-of-pearl as the canvas to enact the art of miniature painting on the dial. The design, first traced in black ink and visible on both sides, is then filled in with 20 layers of pastel colours – thin enough to let the light shine through – before being fired in the kiln. More than 35 hours are invested in creating each dial depicting the fearless horse rider in vivid detail on the front dial and in more muted colours on the reverse side.
Le Gout Hermes
The brand’s unique and often playful design ethos – le gout Hermès – was laid down by Henri d’Origny, the legendary in-house creative director. Origny also dreamed up the asymmetrical profile of the Arceau watch case with its iconic stirrup-shaped lugs. Ugo Bienvenu’s Wow design is housed inside 38mm polished 18k white gold Arceau cases with 82 brilliant-cut diamonds set in the bezel. With such a lively composition, the dial eschews the ‘galloping’ slanted Arabic numerals of other Arceau models and indicates the time with slim hour and minute hands.
The automatic movement powering these watches is the brand’s H1912, made by Vaucher Manufacture in Fleurier (since 2006, Hermès owns a 25% stake in Vaucher). With a frequency of 28,800vph, the calibre delivers a 50h power reserve and is decorated with a circular-grained and snailed mainplate with H motifs on the bridges and rotor.
Availability & Price
Naturally, the calfskin straps are made by Hermès as well and come in pastel colours to match the dial. Both are limited and numbered editions of 24 pieces and will retail for CHF 72,000 or EUR 72,000. For more information, please visit hermes.com.
When money is too cheap to too many.