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Face Time: Slim d’Hermès Pocket Vieux Gréement

The story started in 1912. Jacqueline Hermès was gifted a porte-oignon by her father, a pigskin strap and case that prevented her pocket watch from falling off while she was out horse-riding. More than a century may have passed since then, but pocket watches remain a poignant part of the storied Maison’s heritage. Hermès has since released a handful of the nifty timepieces, all limited edition and each displaying techniques that only the best artisans could execute flawlessly. This year, that pocket watch is the Slim d’Hermès Pocket Vieux Gréement, a spectacular combination of engraving and grand feu enamelling that we can only imagine is painstakingly applied.

Slim d’Hermès Pocket Vieux Gréement

Unveiled at the Crafting Time exhibition at its Madison Avenue store, the centrepiece’s case cover might look like shattered glass from afar, but look closer and you’ll discover its white gold case cover is graced with a design of a ship sailing on the ocean. Carefully engraved by Hermès’ master craftsman Sylvan Bettex, the reflective cuts that make up the waves and ship’s deck and masts are created first, followed by the sky in the background. No detail is left untouched; even the sail’s rigs and seams are included on the one-of-a-kind timepiece.

The pocket watch’s journey doesn’t end there. The case cover is given a ruthenium electroplating bath to give its anthracite gray façade more contrast and visual interest. Then it’s back to more polishing and varnishing. But the watch is as beautiful on the inside as it is outside. Beneath the cover and sapphire crystal case sits a watch dial in all its dazzling blue beauty, a hue that can only be achieved via grand feu enamelling, one of the most difficult techniques when it comes to watch decorating. Explains the US$183,000 (S$260,000) price tag then.

At the heart of the 45mm pocket watch is the same H1950 movement as the rest of the Slim d’hermes collection that keeps the 3-handed timepiece ticking. You’ll see this movement at its back, alongside hand-chamfered bridges and a micro-motor etched with ‘H’s all over, because in case you forgot, Hermès.

Shatricia Nair
Managing Editor
Shatricia Nair is a motoring, watches, and wellness writer who is perpetually knee-deep in the world of V8s, tourbillons, and the latest fitness trends. She is fuelled by peanut butter and three cups of coffee a day.
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