time-keeper


When Hermès lets out an Aaaaaargh!

HUMOUR AND HAUTE HORLOGERIE

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October 2020


When Hermès lets out an Aaaaaargh!

Having uttered a frightening “Grrrrr!” then howled an “Awooooo” to the moon, Hermès has just let out a wild “Aaaaargh”! The horological bestiary of one of the only luxury houses that dares to associate humour with craftsmanship and fine watchmaking is enriched by a new creature: a tyrannosaurus made of caparisoned leather.

W

e can only observe that horology, especially when it calls itself “high”, is rarely a barrel of laughs. It prefers to immerse itself in an atmosphere of solemnity, and the references it chooses to put out are chosen to magnify its own seriousness.

Hermès is one of the only luxury watchmakers prepared to take a step back, lighten up, and play around poetically with the timepiece as an object – as the brand has already demonstrated with models such as Le Temps Suspendu, L’Heure Masquée and L’Heure Impatiente.

Its recent L’Heure de la Lune model is in the same vein, totally and gracefully reimagining the moon phase, which has already been explored by a thousand watchmakers. It proved a success both aesthetically (and philosophically) and mechanically, for, in so doing, Hermès was also innovating in the field and refining its craft.

Freed from the superego of traditional watchmaking, Hermès can bring its own creative whimsy, humour and inspiration.

One of the house’s assets is that it has a number of different professions, which feed off and nourish each other. Freed from traditional watchmaking’s superego, Hermès can bring its own creative whimsy, humour and inspiration to bear, giving different forms, themes and expressions to the watchmaking crafts. It can also draw inspiration from its famous silk scarves.

“Grrrrr!”, “Awooooo” and now “Aaaaargh!” make a magnificent bestiary.

Grrrrr!
Grrrrr!
Awooooo
Awooooo

AAAAARGH!

Three crafts – leather mosaic, leather marquetry and grand feu enamel – have been pressed into the service of the “king of the tyrannical lizards”.

It all begins with thousands of multicoloured leather fragments, which are chiselled by hand into different shapes, and then placed side by side to produce a vivid, colourful and highly original leather mosaic design.

The fine tesserae that form the dinosaur’s jaw and tongue borrow from another technique: leather marquetry. They are shaved down to 0.5 mm, cut to the exact shape and then placed side by side on an enamel base.

At the top, the protruding yellow eye fixes us with its piercing gaze (it is also visible on the back of the watch cover). Made from cabochon-cut grand feu enamel, this ultra-realistic eye gives the beast a powerful presence.

There’s no escaping the gaze of the protruding yellow eye.

Leather mosaic
Leather mosaic
©David Marchon
Leather marquetry
Leather marquetry
©David Marchon
The eye in grand feu enamel
The eye in grand feu enamel
©David Marchon

Lifting the jaw

Under the cover of the pocket watch, which sports the leather armour of the Tyrannosaurus, is an exceptional mechanism. The white enamel dial on a white gold base is as pure, calm, uncluttered and elegantly typified as the animal’s furious face is frightening.

It displays hours and minutes, elegantly organised around a flying tourbillon with a very delicately worked cage.

Developed in collaboration with famous Geneva-based watchmaker Pierre Favre (Manufacture de Hautes Complications), the Hermès H1924 in-house movement with flying tourbillon is also a hand-wound minute repeater, boasting a generous 90-hour power reserve.

Rest assured, this minute repeater will not emit an unnerving “Aaaaaargh!” when it sounds the hours, quarters and minutes – in fact, it produces a very subtle and perfectly harmonious sound.

Rest assured, this minute repeater will not emit an unnerving “Aaaaaargh!” – in fact, it produces a very subtle and perfectly harmonious sound.

Impeccably finished, carefully polished and bevelled, the movement’s classical architecture, visible under an anti-reflective sapphire crystal, is nevertheless leavened by the subtly humorous touch of a wide bridge cut in the shape of a dinosaur.

The Hermès H1924 flying tourbillon minute repeater movement in its white gold case.
The Hermès H1924 flying tourbillon minute repeater movement in its white gold case.
©Claude Joray

This unique timepiece is also intended to demonstrate the full horological maturity that Hermès has now achieved, 42 years after the creation of La Montre Hermès (based in Biel) and eight years after releasing its first in-house movements.

This unique timepiece also demonstrates the full horological maturity that Hermès has now achieved, 42 years after the creation of La Montre Hermès.