Hermes Arceau Squelette timepiece, designed by its longtime artistic director Henri d’Origny in 1978, is perhaps the watch that best expresses the brand’s historical roots as a saddle maker: its asymmetrical lugs are shaped like stirrups and the sloping font of it hour numerals evoke the silhouettes of galloping horses. This year, Hermès unveils a new edition of the Arceau that also elegantly demonstrates the maison’s watchmaking expertise: the Arceau Squelette. The Arceau Squelette’s rounded, 40-mm steel case houses a skeletonized self-winding movement and frames a smoked, sapphire dial through which that mechanism can be glimpsed. The Hermes Arceau Squelette dial is deep black on its outer edges, gradating to a transparent center, and features a beaded minute circle and silvered, openworked numerals in the signature Arceau style. Visible beneath the slim, lance-shaped hour and minute hands are the movement’s bridges, its wheels with anthracite treatment, and its openworked oscillating weight. The Hermès Arceau Squelette is attached via its hallmark stirrup lugs to a matte-black alligator leather strap from Hermès’s own atelier and fastens to the wrist with a steel pin buckle. It is priced at $8,600 and available via the Hermès website as well as authorized dealers.
The Hermes Arceau Squelette is one of the company’s older watch designs, going back to 1978, but the execution we have here is something entirely new. The classic form has been fitted with a skeletonized movement and a smoked black sapphire dial to show off the new caliber. The rest of the package is pretty familiar – 40mm stainless-steel case, the distinctive swirling numerals, and, of course, a killer Hermès strap (in your choice of a few colors) finishing things off. Some people knock watchmakers for “variations,” but this is very much a case of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Those few design changes do make a big difference, though. To me, the Hermes Arceau Squelette has always had a certain crispness about it, with the lithe hands, the fine lines of the numerals, and the clean shape of the case. This watch still has those things, but the multi-layer effect of the crystal, gradient-smoked sapphire dial, and open movement underneath adds a bit of cloudiness and extra depth. The watch has a totally new dimension. It’s making its way into Hermès boutiques now, and while it’s not a limited edition, production is limited on the new model.