The French luxury house has released three show-stopping watches that won’t be easy to get your hands on, with only one unit of each available in the entire world.

When Hermès made the decision to begin exhibiting at SIHH in 2018, it signalled to the world that the French luxury house was ready to be taken seriously in the world of haute horlogerie. One could argue that this was long overdue — after all, the house’s watch division, Hermès Horloger, had opened its first production facility in Switzerland 40 years earlier, in 1978. 

Prior to that, the maison famed for its leather goods and equestrian-inspired accessories began making wristwatch straps in the early 20th century. Starting in 1928, it began collaborating with the finest names in Swiss watchmaking to produce the first timepieces bearing the Hermès signature — they were called “guardians of time.”

Fast forward to 2020, Hermès Horloger is now a formidable player in the world of high-end watchmaking after achieving a vertical integration which means cases, dials and movements are produced in-house by a team of around 300 artisans. As a result, they’ve been able to significantly expand their craftsmanship and expertise, with increasingly complex and enchanting timepieces being released each year. 

Three new releases — all one-of-a-kind models with only one unit of each available worldwide — show just how far the house has come in the watchmaking industry. More to the point, this is the first time Hermès has produced a minute repeater watch coupled with a flying tourbillon. Let’s take a look:

Arceau Lift Tourbillon Répétition Minutes

A horse-shaped cut-out on the lacquered dial of the Arceau Lift Tourbillon Répétition Minutes pays tribute to Hermès’s equestrian legacy and reveals the mechanical hand-wound H1924 movement, also visible through the sapphire crystal case back. Featuring a 90-hour power reserve, the internal architecture includes both a double-gong minute-repeater mechanism as well as a flying tourbillon, which is coiled inside the horse’s neck and visible through a round aperture at six o’clock. Forming a double H, the tourbillon’s architecture is inspired by the wrought ironwork found at the Hermès boutique on the Fauborg Saint-Honoré in Paris. 

Understated yet immediately recognisable, the piece continues the design heritage of the original Arceau watch from 1978. The timeless silhouette comprises a round case with asymmetrical lugs that resemble a stirrup — yet another equestrian touch. Slim open-worked hands and sloping numerals that evoke a galloping horse are other signature elements of the Arceau line.

For this release, two one-of-a-kind models are available in a 43mm rose gold case with a white lacquered dial, and a white gold case with an ‘Abyss blue’ lacquered dial. Both models are completed with a Havana alligator strap.

Arceau Pocket ‘Aaaaargh!’

As the inscription on the caseback reads, this one-of-a-kind pocket watch certainly is a “piece unique.” Its most distinctive feature is the cover, featuring the T-Rex from the ‘Aaaaargh!’ Silk scarf designed by English artist Alice Shirley. Here, the king of the dinosaurs has been brought to life after a month of meticulous work that included exclusive techniques developed in Hermès’s leather workshops. 

The head and scales of the tyrannosaurus are made in leather mosaic, which required thousands of finely hand-cut leather fragments to be applied one by one. The jaw and tongue, meanwhile, were crafted in marquetry from leather thinned to just 0.5mm. Finally, the dinosaur’s domed eye is made of cabochon-cut Grand Feu enamel and is visible on both sides of the watch cover, which gives it the appearance of peeking through a porthole. 

The other elements of this pocket watch are no less spectacular. Housed in a 48mm white gold case, the mechanical self-winding H1924 minute-repeater and flying tourbillon movement offers a 90-hour power reserve. The refined dial is made of white enamel applied to a white gold base, and it features an aperture revealing the flying tourbillon as well as the signature sloping numerals of the Arceau line. Last but not least, an alligator leather cord-strap is attached to the stirrup-shaped lug to complete this stunning creation.

Both the Arceau Lift Tourbillon Répétition Minutes and the Arceau Pocket ‘Aaaaargh!’ are truly exemplary of the high level of expertise and craftsmanship that Hermès is known for. If anything, these collector’s items are only a sure sign that we can only expect more and more impressive timepieces from the maison in the future. 

The Arceau Lift Tourbillon Répétition Minutes is available in rose gold (HK$2,076,000) or white gold (HK$2,181,000). Pricing for the Arceau Pocket Aaaaargh! Is available upon request. Find out more at hermes.com.

Michael Alan Connelly
Contributing Editor
Formerly the Editor-in-Chief of Lifestyle Asia, Michael is a lifestyle journalist who has written about food, travel, culture, and all the other things that make life worth living for more than a decade. A Chicago native who's also called New York, Hong Kong and Beijing home, his passions include cooking, hiking, dogs, and anything related to Italy.