The French icon has been prolific at the show, demonstrating a playfulness and inventiveness that fits in well with the radical new format for Watches and Wonders.
We were treated to six new releases from Hermès online, based on updates to some classic collections we have seen previously. The results are truly stunning, linking the past firmly to the present.
Arceau Cheval Cosmique
This watch was originally designed by Henri d’Origny back in 1978 but has now been re-imagined by Italian artist Giampaolo Pagni to create the ‘Cosmic Horse’. With a mother of pearl face and a trotting horse in relief, this is certainly an eye-catching and artistic piece: just as we would expect from Hermès. The case is white gold set with 82 diamonds. It’s certainly labour intensive to produce – taking nearly a week for each watch face – which is why it’s limited to two series of 24 pieces each.
What are the options? As well as a white mother of pearl face, there’s also a blue aventurine watch, with the horse featuring even more prominently. To my mind, the blue one is the most striking – but there’s sure to be strong demand for both.
Case: White gold 38mm (white), white gold 41mm (blue)
Strap: ‘Chantilly alligator’ (white) ‘Abyss blue alligator’ (blue)
Dial: Mother of pearl and diamonds (white), white gold with blue aventurine (blue).
Is this watch, a piece of jewellery, or an ‘objet d’art’? It’s a fascinating one to ponder, and the answer is probably all three.
Arceau l’heure de la lune
With Panerai releasing its ‘Luna Rossa’ watch, the moon seems to be a common horological theme at the moment, but this is a very different treatment with a breath-taking showcase that wouldn’t look out of place at an art gallery ¬– or an observatory.
Available in white gold or platinum, this incredible watch features an ethereal look with satellite dials (showing the time and the seconds) floating above two hemispherical mother of pearl moons: in reality it’s a watch within a watch. These two dials turn to reveal the moons in their different phases, with an ‘orbit’ of 59 days: a mechanism patented by Hermès.
The Arceau l’heure de la lune uses the Hermès H1837 movement which is only 4.2 millimetres thick, enhancing its reputation as a technical as well as an aesthetic tour de force. Two versions are available, in black or brown, in a limited numbered edition of 30 black watches and 36 brown watches. And for those looking for the ultimate in exclusivity, there’s actually a third watch in Veronese green as well – but only two of them will be made available.
Case: 43mm white gold (black and brown), 43mm platinum (green)
Strap: Matt black alligator (black), matt Havana alligator (brown), matt Veronese green alligator (green)
Dial: Black Sahara meteorite dial (black), lunar meteorite dial (brown), Martian meteorite dial (green)
$54,100 (Black Sahara)
Price upon request (Martian)
Is this the most impressive thing we’ve seen from Hermès yet? To my mind, it might well be, combining artistry, astronomy and watchmaking in one fascinating – and exclusive – package. Wow.
Another reimagined 1978 classic originally from Henri d’Origny, which is perhaps more reminiscent of what we’ve been used to seeing from Hermès. It’s designed as a showcase for the company’s mechanical architecture, putting the accent on the clearly visible mechanical self-winding movement.
With a round steel case framing a smoked sapphire crystal dial, the beauty lies in the simplicity, with even the numerals seemingly fading into the background. As Hermès themselves say, it’s all about understated lightness.
Case: 40-millimetre steel
Strap: Alligator leather
Dial: Gradient-shaded black sapphire, transparent in the centre, silvered Arabic numerals
The most subtle of the Hermès releases this year, but nonetheless one that highlights a direct and important link between the French fashion house and the oldest traditions of watch-making.
Cape Cod Martelée
In French, ‘martelée’ means ‘hammered’ – in the sense of what happens after you use a hammer on something, as opposed to downing several bottles of vin rouge. Like most Hermès watches, there’s a good story behind this one: in 1991 it was meant to have been born as a square watch, but it ended up as a ‘square within a rectangle’.
The hammered effect is clear on the steel case and is echoed on the darker dial, giving it a uniquely textured look. The Cape Cod watch features two chaine d’ancre half links: a famous design created by Robert Dumas in 1938, inspired by a nautical anchor. It’s particularly evident in this striking new version.
Case: 23mm hammered steel case
Strap: Black barenia calf strap (in single or double tour versions)
Dial: Shaded black and hammered dial
Keeping the same idea that Hermès has adopted for all its releases this year, we’re seeing an updated version of a familiar theme with typically French effortless chic. There’s lots of original thinking at work here.
Nantucket Jeté de Chaine d’Ancre
This has a strong family resemblance (and a similar American seaside nomenclature) to the Cape Cod, with its half anchor design. It’s obviously a very feminine and small model, with a more classical look than the hammered Cape Cod, highlighting the attractive alligator straps that are available in a variety of bright colours.
The watch face is defined by a distinctive sprinkled pattern of 89 diamonds, which pick out the half anchor logo as well as providing a unique motif that flows from dial to case.
Case: 17mm case in steel
Strap: A number of calf straps in different colours: deep blue, amber, extreme pink, etoupe alligator, blue alligator, pearl-grey alligator, black alligator, polished ultraviolet alligator, polished ember alligator
Dial: Gem-set rhodium-plated and sandblasted dial.
It’s a really pretty watch, no question, with the multiplicity of straps adding an extra dimension. My personal favourite is the blue crocodile.
Slim d’Hermès GMT
Another exquisite work from Hermès, this time in rose gold with a mesmerising blue dial. But it’s probably the technical aspect that makes this watch particularly interesting. It’s really slim at just 9.48mm, thanks to the 2.6mm H1950 movement (which can be viewed through the crystal case back) making this watch singularly elegant.
It’s a classic travel watch, with the possibility to see the time in a home and away zone just by pushing a button. With its ultra-thin GMT module and classic Philippe Apeloig numerals that practically fade into obscurity, it’s hard to imagine a more stylish travelling companion.
Case: 39.5-millimetre rose gold
Strap: Matt abyss blue alligator
Dial: Anthracite blue dial, Arabic numerals
A truly beautiful GMT watch that is a stunning addition to the Slim d’Hermès line that we first saw in 2015. Rose gold, blue and the sunburst chapter ring is a brilliant combination, marking this out as one of my highlights of the online show.
You can check out the Hermès website here.
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