Watches: Hermès Dressage L'Heure Masquée (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on May 8, 2014

Everybody remembers the poetic Arceau Le Temps Suspendu (Arceau Time Suspended in English) that looks absolutely stunning in this platinum version with a cobalt blue stamped herringbone motif on the dial and a matt indigo blue Hermès alligator strap. Unveiled in 2011 in steel and pink gold versions at first, this stunning timepiece symbolises all the discreet elegance of the House of Hermès.

By simply pressing the pusher at 9 o'clock, one can "freeze the moment" by sending the hands back to the 12 o'clock position and hiding the date as well. All hands are then kept still until they are summoned back to action when the owner wants to read the time. An accurate watch that can also set you free from the ceaseless march of time, by literally stopping it in its tracks: as Luc Perramond, CEO of Hermes Watches, puts it, this “is a very simple idea with a very complex execution”. And this is what Hermès is all about: a perfect combination of simplicity and sophistication. What better definition of true luxury can there be?

This year at Baselworld, the brand unveiled the second opus mixing Haute Horology with a fresh look at the philosophy of time, the Dressage L'Heure Masquée (Dressage Time Concealed in English). The watch seems to employ a single hand like, for instance the beautiful Velsheda presented by Peter Speake-Marin this year. However, this is in fact the minute hand and when one presses the button integrated into the crown, the hour hand hidden behind it jumps to the position which reflects the current time. Similarly, the aperture at 6 o’clock with the “GMT” indication opens to reveal the second time zone on a 24-hour scale.

Here the watch only displays the minutes

With the press of a button, the hours hand and the second time zone are revealed

Both indications are elusive though, as they can be seen only when and so long as the crown push-piece is pressed. After releasing the button, the hours hand snaps back to its position behind the minutes hand while the “GMT” sign conceals the second time zone. This is a completely different complication from the “Le Temps Suspendu” but this new whimsical way of playing with time represents the perfect encore we were waiting for!

Understandably, this original game of hide-and-seek requires a highly elaborate movement. For “Le Temps Suspendu” Hermès combined a base Vaucher Manufacture calibre and the 4111 module developed by famous watchmaker Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and its Agenhor lab exclusively for the brand. This time around, though, the Dressage L'Heure Masquée relies on a calibre entirely developed and produced in-house by Hermès.

Known as Vaucher Manufacture H1925, this self-winding movement with 28 jewels, a frequency of 28,800 vph, and 45 hours of power reserve boasts a high level of decorations. From the sapphire exhibition case back, one can admire the beautiful circular graining on the mainplate, the satin-brushed bridges and the “H” logo decoration on some bridges and the oscillating weight.

Aesthetically from the outside, the Le Temps Suspendu model relied on the all-purpose round “Arceau” case but the brand opted for its more distinctive cushion shape “Dressage” case for the L'Heure Masquée model. Measuring 40.50 x 38.40 mm, it remains very elegant on the wrist though. As with “Le Temps Suspendu”, the watch is first introduced in two limited runs: 500 pieces in pink gold and another 1,000 in steel. Both models are mounted on Hermès alligator strap (brown or black respectively) and feature a folding buckle in the same material as the case. The steel model is worth US$ 20,750 and the pink gold will cost US$ 43,750.

Another successfully designed model true to the principles of elegance and refinement of this great Maison…

For a technical description of the timepieces and additional pictures: