From lavish exotic skin bags to bespoke buttery leather dressage saddles, Hermès is a whole luxury fantasy world unto itself.
The heritage brand, which Hermès Arceau Wow Watch was founded as an equestrian harness-maker for the French noblesse back in 1837, has become the gold standard for leather goods. And unless you’re a Buddhist monk who has been silently meditating in a cave at the foothills of the Himalayas for 50-odd years, chances are you will at least have heard of the Birkin.
It makes perfect sense then, that the brand known for being the best-of-the-best when it comes to artisanry and craft would be capable of making something as intricate as the Arceau Wow watch.
I’m going to give you a brutally honest rendition of my initial reaction to the technicolored timepiece because it was truly a hodgepodge of confusion, joy, and horror. There was a mini gasp, “Oooh look at the pretty colored mother-of-pearl dial,” followed by a small and very private thought, “Why on earth would Hermès, the material embodiment of ‘bon chic bon genre’ make such a thing?”
Fresh out of the meeting I ran to sit solo with my thoughts. After saying “Wow watch” out loud a few times while also sipping on my fifth Coca-Cola of the day (savage behavior I know but we were still in peak trade show mode), I started to mentally unpack my feelings about the new Métiers d’art Arceau.
The Hermès Arceau Wow Watch did feel slightly out of character and a little attention grabby, but after the shock had subsided I settled on the fact it was undeniably beautiful in person.
Up close it was shiny and complex; a sparkly little nugget that was trying desperately to ignite my magpie tendencies. I folded. Even with the added temptation of other newly hatched Hermès novelties, it was just too fun for me to ignore. So I focused on the Wow and abandoned any logical plan to study the other releases. Obviously if you’re into eccentric métiers d’art dials this is a total home run. Even if you prefer things that are a little less pastel and a little more affordable, there’s still no denying that the craftsmanship on this dial is phenomenal.
At 38mm in diameter, the dial on this Hermès Arceau Wow Watch is actually a miniature replica of an existing double-sided Hermes scarf designed by artist Ugo Bienvenu. Similar to how the scarf is executed, with a multicolored interpretation on the front and a monochrome version on the back, the hand-painted dial also includes two different color schemes on each side. The design is first drawn in black ink which is visible on both sides, acting as its own kind of tracing paper guide. The motif is then filled in on one side. The mini mise en scene is supremely detailed with just the right amount of depth to still ensure that only a light wash of pastel color will shine through on the reverse.
The horse and heroine are painted on the upper dial side in a much sharper and denser pigment of color for the effect that they are somehow magically bursting out from a comic book strip. The white gold cased Wow watch comes in two versions: a soft powdery pink and a bluish-stained hue. Both are paired with an Hermès calfskin strap and are equipped with in-house self-winding Caliber H1912, visible through the exhibition caseback. Naturally, the Arceau Wow features a bezel set with 82 diamonds and each color is issued in a 24-piece limited edition. Clearly this is no easy feat to produce, in fact, it takes 35 hours to create a single dial. Handmade craft and laborious detail often come with a hefty price tag, deservedly so: there are real individuals with miraculously steady hands sitting at a bench painting these things with teeny tiny brushes and magnifying instruments.
One of France’s oldest family-owned and run luxury companies, Hermès started life in 1837 as a producer of harnesses and saddles in Paris. Renowned for its impeccable artisanal craftsmanship and intrepid artistic flair, Hermès has always welcomed creative talent from outside to keep its products fresh. The latest Arceau models feature comic book artist Ugo Bienvenu’s heroine depicted on horseback galloping across the double-sided mother-of-pearl dial. Embracing the brand’s flair for combining shapes, colours and volumes, these two limited-edition 38mm white gold Hermès Arceau Wow Watch models feature miniature hand-painted illustrations inspired by Ugo Bienvenu’s Wow scarf for Hermès.