The consumer market in China is expected to rise to $15.94 trillion over the next decade, and the suddenly wealthy baofahu are now besieged by luxury fashion houses selling them clothing, jewellery and accessories. So it was apt, financially, for Hermès, the winged messenger, to fly to Beijing to demonstrate the Arceau Le Temps Suspendu, a watch that literally stops time. Press the pushbutton at 9 o'clock, and both the date and the time disappear, the idea being that in the timeless vacuum created, the wearer is then free to hang out with friends and family without the pressure of the ticking clock.
The surreal launch attempted to evoke all the fantastical flights of fancy that might occur in a timeless dream. At the Beijing Flying Club, we were stripped of both watch and phone before walking through a giant Swiss cuckoo clock door, that lead to a dark forest of trees adorned with two different styles of Hermès watches: the Arceau Le Temps Suspendu and Cape Cod Grandes Heures.
Moving into a French-style garden, we watched braver souls attempt to play croquet while being towered over by a giant hourglass. Dainty ballerinas hunted men in animal masks around a maze that soon gave way to a sea, complete with fishermen and divers. A rocking horse of Trojan dimensions then appeared, before visitors were invited to take a literal flight of fancy in a hot air balloon, topping off the Dali-meets-Disney adventure.