Watches: Hermès Arceau Cheval d'Orient

By Thierry Ané on July 17, 2014

Regular readers of Watch Agora know how much I appreciate decorative timepieces. Closely related to Fine Arts, this unique branch of Haute Horology relies on almost extinct techniques to express a brand's aesthetic creativity. Many brands can resort to outside talented artisans to produce a decorative model but more often than not the result will lack identity. A selected few Maisons, though, have their own ornamental experts in-house and manage to create breathtaking works of art in perfect harmony with their unique DNA.

Hermès is obviously part of this select circle and has unveiled stunning artistic timepieces over the years. To give just a few recent examples, let me remind you of the psychedelic Arceau Millefiori or the Arceau Temari Onyx Pavé released this year as well as the Arceau Marqueterie de Paille (Herringbone or Square), the Arceau Pocket Watch Volutes, the Arceau Pocket Watch Voilier, and the Cape Cod Rocabar introduced in 2013.

Millefiori technique, gem-setting, stone marquetry, straw marquetry, "ramolayage" engraving, as well as plique-à-jour, cloisonné, and paillonné enamel: these stunning creations use an extraordinary large palette of decorative techniques but the end result is always aesthetically deeply anchored in the world of Hermès.

This month, this venerable Maison introduces yet another example of its immense decorative skills with the three “Arceau Cheval d'Orient” timepieces featuring equestrian motifs inspired by one of the brand’s iconic service sets. Limited to 24 units, these magnificent horological compositions showcase Hermès’ expertise with two new ornamental techniques: miniature painting and “French lacquer”.

The patience and meticulous care of an experienced lacquer specialist are pushed to the limit to give life to three equestrian scenes from a dream-like Orient. Horses decked out in colourful Persian saddle rugs are obtained through a painstaking process that involves countless tiny brushstrokes and successive layers of lacquer. The end result boasts the amazing depth and the extraordinary vivid colours that only lacquer can achieve.

These three magnificent dials are placed into a 41 mm white gold “Arceau” case mounted on a black alligator strap and secured by a traditional pin buckle. Each “Arceau Cheval d'Orient” model is equipped with the in-house H1837 calibre. This time-only self-winding movement with 50 hours of power reserve, observable through the sapphire crystal on the case back, presents all the finishing characteristics of a Haute Horology movement: circular grained and snailed bottom plate, satin-brushed bridges and oscillating weight adorned with the special Hermès H-symbol decoration.

These three superb creations brilliantly demonstrate the brand’s exquisite aesthetic sense and its mastery in decorative methods.

For more information please visit the Hermès web site.