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Hermès Arceau Chronographe

In its inaugural appearance at Geneva’s SIHH, Montres Hermès Arceau Chronographe presented two titanium executions in its Arceau line, a long-lived collection originally designed by Henri d’Origny that first appeared in 1978. The idea behind the collection at its inception was to channel the spirit of equestrian sports through a case design with lugs that recall a stirrup. As you can see, there’s really just one new watch here, available on either a tan Barenia calfskin strap or a black embossed Barenia calfskin strap. The watch is notable for its 41mm bead-blasted titanium case with asymmetrical lugs and rounded piston-type pushers. This is easily among the sportier watches you will encounter from Hermes. Its case size of 41mm puts it in what the company calls the TGM category ( Hermès Arceau Chronographe TGM being short for “Tres Grande Modele,” or “Very Large Model.” Its true, this watch does wear larger than its nominal 41mm size, in part owing to those large asymmetrical lugs. But any potential weightiness is mitigated by the fact that the case is made from titanium. In fact, the case feels downright light on the wrist. The watch comes with a beautiful textured galvanic black dial that features a sloped cursive font for all of the indications for the time, the chronograph, and the date. Hermes says that the numbers look like they’ve “been blown in a playful breeze,” and there is definitely an appealing design element here. I think the font adds to this dial’s beauty and fits exceptionally well with the case design. And yet, reading the chronograph sub-dials at glance presented a slight challenge. Granted this was during a 30-minute product presentation at SIHH. If you want a beautiful contemporary Hermès Arceau Chronographe that can be dressed up or down, this would be a fantastic choice. If you require a real instrument to time events, you should probably be looking to a more traditional maker of sports watches instead. Unsurprisingly, the straps here are perfectly soft and comfortable, just as you’d expect them to be. The stitching on the tan calfskin version makes for a great daytime look. Placing the same watch on a black calfskin strap totally changes the look, and that’s especially true with this strap, which has ridges near the lugs inspired by classic racing straps.
The movement inside this Hermès Arceau Chronographe watch is not made by Hermeès, though the company has made its own movements for other watches in its collection since 2012 (through it’s partnership with Vaucher, the movement-making arm of Parmigiani Fleurier), and has even made some very interesting models featuring original complications over the years. But since this one isn’t their own caliber, Hermès has opted to close the back with a stamped “H” Hermes crest. In case you’re curious, the caliber is an ETA 2894, which is an automatic chronograph with 37 jewels and a 42-hour power reserve.