Hermès’ new watch calls on its equestrian roots

Intricate craftsmanship lays at the heart of the Hermès Arceau Cheval Cosmique

hermes watch
An artisan enamels the dial of the Hermes Arceau Cheval Cosmique.
(Image credit: Photography courtesy of David Marchon)

The intricate horse saddles Thierry Hermès hand-stitched in the 19th century, marking the beginning of French house Hermès, were also the start of a lasting equestrian love affair.

The new Arceau Cheval Cosmique nods to both this history and the enduring links between style and function with a white gold horse gently trotting across its dial. The timepiece is a development of the original Arceau, designed by Henri d’Origny in 1978 and here rethought by artist Gianpaolo Pagni.

hermes watch

(Image credit: Photography courtesy of David Marchon)

Pagni’s artwork is a reinterpretation of a horse from Émile Hermès’ private collection; juxtaposed against swirling waves, it cuts a fluid silhouette. Pagni begins by drawing a series of simple, graphic – and if possible, modular – forms from which he can explore concepts. ‘For this motif, the relationship between the horse adapted from a historical engraving and my stamps composed of concentric lines guided the project towards a concept of motion along a path, a circuit,’ he says.

Working with a motif already swathed in symbolism was not without its challenges: ‘When I choose a historical document as part of my project, I have to actually like the design,’ Pagni says. ‘In this case I found this horse imposing and statuesque. The challenge was somehow to make it move and travel as well as adding meaning and a story, even if it is very symbolic.’

Once the outline of the horse is complete, it is transferred to the dial, where it rests against the undulations of waves defined with black lacquer. The surrounding space is filled with either aventurine or enamel and mother-of-pearl before the horse is secured into place.

hermes watch

The horse is engraved before it is applied to the dial

(Image credit: Photography courtesy of David Marchon)

hermes watch

The waves are engraved before they are applied to the dial

(Image credit: Photography courtesy of David Marchon)

hermes watch

The engraved waves are applied to the dial

(Image credit: Photography courtesy of David Marchon)

Hermes watch

Aventurine glass is applied to the dial

(Image credit: Photography courtesy of David Marchon)

INFORMATION

hermes.com

Hannah Silver joined Wallpaper* in 2019 to work on watches and jewellery. Now, as well as her role as watches and jewellery editor, she writes widely across all areas including on art, architecture, fashion and design. As well as offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, Hannah is interested in the quirks of what makes for a digital success story.