You know there’s something special about a work of art when it mesmerises you instantly, transporting you to another world with its fluid, almost dream-like imagination. And that’s precisely the reaction evoked by Hermès’ latest launch — the Arceau Grands Fonds watch. Inspired by the Grands Fonds silk scarf, designed by French artist Annie Faivre in 1992, this exquisite timepiece recreates the magical vibe of the underwater realm with its vivid colours and remarkable artistry.
Originally designed in 1978 by Henri d’Origny, the Arceau watch retains its refined, distinctive character even as Hermès’ extraordinary artisans showcase their expertise and craftsmanship to create a beautiful masterpiece. This takes the absolutely stunning form of a round, glass micro-mosaic dial featuring a brightly coloured exotic fish set against a dark, turquoise blue background.
As can easily be imagined, an intricate, miniature composition like this requires more than a month of work for a single dial. First, the craftsperson selects several coloured glass tesserae, cuts them and melts them at more than 700°C to form filaments of the required fineness. A putty base composed of marble powder, lime and linseed oil serves to assemble the tiny tiles. The aquatic motif, reproduced to scale, is positioned on the dial base and a scalpel is used to openwork the areas where the corresponding tesserae will be inserted.
The multicoloured glass strands are then cut into small squares with a file and placed one by one using a wooden peg. All this then takes an entire month to dry. Post this, the mosaic decoration must feature a perfectly flat surface, which is no small technical challenge for the glassmaker who creates it.
A work of exceptional beauty, no doubt, the Arceau watch functions as a very competent timepiece, as well, thanks to the self-winding Manufacture Hermès H1837 movement that drives the hours and minutes hands. Completing its elegant look is a 44mm white gold case that frames the artwork, and a sapphire blue alligator strap that complements the dark blue of the glass dial.
In essence, wearing the Arceau Grands Fonds watch is akin to wearing art on your wrist.
The Arceau Grands Fonds watch is available in a highly exclusive six-piece limited edition.
(All images courtesy of Hermès)