HERMÈS Arceau Mon Premier Galop

The French house of Hermès began creating watches as early as 1912, but it was only in 1978 that the house would launch a signature design of its own. That design is the Arceau, created by the brand’s prolific artistic director Henri d’Origny. A round watch in a sense, but with a witty twist: the Arceau name translates to and takes its inspirations from the shapes of stirrups from the house’s favoured equestrian world. The circular case is framed by asymmetrical lugs, and the collection is immediately recognisable by the curved numerals which are meant to evoke the gallop of a horse in movement. Think of it as horological classicism done in a distinctly Hermès way.
More than four decades on, and the Arceau has become an emblematic canvas for watchmaking at Hermès. The collection is regularly transformed to house some of the brand’s most playful and unusual creative experiments. There are the poetic complications, like Le Temps Suspendu which ‘freezes’ the time display at the push of a button, and Le Temps Voyageur which beautifully reimagines displaying different time zones. These are often some of Hermès’ best examples of horological ingenuity.
This year, the brand has crafted on its Arceau timepiece a cheery reinterpretation of the Mon Premier Galop design by the Chinese-born artist Tong Ren. It’s an almost naïf depiction of a horse taking its first steps—hence the name. In its original shawl form, the design is printed on a cashmere-silk blend, with printed textures that evoke the artist’s fondness for traditional crafts like wicker baskets and woven straw hats.
Now as a Hermes Arceau Mon Premier Galop watch, these ideas have been realised through a host of artistic crafts applied to the Arcea Mon Premier Galop’s dial. There is leather marquetry, in which different pieces of leather are cut to precise shapes and sizes in order to fit into the larger design as though pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. These pieces of leather are trimmed to just half a millimetre thick. There’s also silk threads in blue and gold shades, painstakingly arranged and set to complement the leather pieces. And to achieve the luminous blue and yellow of the sky and sun, layers of enamel are applied with a brush by hand to create the limpid colours that contrast against the grain and textures of leather and silk.

The level of artistic work almost outshines the preciousness of the Hermes Arceau Mon Premier Galop watch case, which comes in 18-carat white gold and set on the bezel with 82 diamonds. The Arceau Mon Premier Galop adds one last touch of Hermès’ leather expertise: a Swift calfskin strap in a shade of zephyr blue to match the palette on the dial.
Consistently ranked as one of the world’s most valuable luxury brands, Hermès is still a family-run business with a flair for producing exquisite products. Renowned for its superlative leather goods and silk scarves, you might be surprised to know that the sale of watches at Hermès is enjoying a record high. Creativity, artisanship and a unique and often whimsical spirit infuse all the brand’s products, watches included. Faithful to its origins as a purveyor of quality saddles and harnesses in the early 19th century, the Maison is fond of equestrian motifs. Following the latest trajectory of taking designs from silk scarves and incorporating them on the dial of watches, the latest 38mm Hermes Arceau Mon Premier Galop watch is a joyful interpretation of a shawl designed for the brand by Chinese-born artist and illustrator Tong Ren.

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