The Arceau is undisputedly the most definitive of Hermès watch designs. It was developed by Henri d’Origny in 1978, with stirrup-like asymmetrical lugs, a slim bezel and a round case that forms the perfect blank canvas on which Hermès unleashes its creativity and technical skill in high complications, like the highly lauded Le Temps Suspendu or the beautiful L’heure de la Lune. A new addition to the Arceau family this year is a one-of-a-kind model in rose or white gold — the Arceau Lift Tourbillon Répétition Minutes.
Hermès first introduced a tourbillon in 2013 in the Arceau Lift. Seven years later, the tourbillon watch is given an upgrade to include a minute repeater. The Arceau Lift Tourbillon Répétition Minutes is available in two examples only, on a white or Abyss blue-lacquered dial with a unique cut-out in the shape of a horse head, giving us a glimpse into the enchanting mechanism of the watch.
Bringing its equestrian beginnings to the fore once again, the cut-out detail on the lacquered dial is the first thing that catches your eye, stylishly showing off the double-gong minute repeater mechanism within. The movement powering the timepiece is the H1924 movement, which also incorporates the equestrian theme by having a barrel bridge shaped like twin horse heads. The flying tourbillon is found coiled inside the horse’s neck and is visible through the round aperture at 6 o’clock. The flying tourbillon is shaped like a double H, its architecture paying homage to the mot emblematic of the Hermès boutique on the Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, a nod to the wrought ironwork that adorns the entrance, railings and staircase of the Parisian establishment.
Openworked timepieces often border on a more futuristic or avant-garde aesthetic, but here Hermès strikes the right balance between showing off its fascinating mechanism and keeping things restrained with slim open worked hands and a simple lacquer dial. The numerals are the typical sloping font Hermès reserves for the Arceau line; elegant, almost Breguet-numeral like, slanted as though to evoke the motion of the agile horse.
The real draw of course, would be the sheer exclusivity of the one-off watch — only two examples are made, in white gold with a blue lacquer dial or rose gold with a white lacquer dial, ticking off all the boxes for what is quintessentially Hermès while packing two high complications within its 43mm case. The watch is priced at US$270,000.
Mechanical hand-wound Manufacture Hermès H1924 movement; hours, minutes, double-gong minute repeater, tourbillon; 90-hour power reserve
White or rose gold; 43mm in diameter; water-resistant to 30m
Blue lacquered (white gold version) or white lacquered dial (rose gold version) with a horse cut-out motif
USD270,000, unique piece.