Though having produced its first wristwatch almost a century ago, only the recent history of Hermes watches is characterized with the creation of highly complicated timepieces. This is especially visible in its latest product – Hermes Arceau Lift Tourbillon. It is the first watch by the brand which features a tourbillon complication. To make the things a bit more interesting, the brand opted to create a timepiece with a flying tourbillon. The name of the timepiece derives from the main decoration of the watch, the brand’s double H motif which is replicated from the ornaments that grace the elevator door at the company’s headquarters in the Parisian street, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. This motif, which was originally crafted in wrought iron, is replicated not only on the rotating carriage of the watch’s flying tourbillon, but also once more in a fixed version on the barrel bridge that sits at the top part of the dial.
Investments in the Production Facilities
As it has been said, Hermes has been producing watches for quite some time. Its manufacture of timekeepers kicked off in the late 1920s. Its early men’s chronographs and women’s art-deco styled watches included the movements commissioned from a renowned manufacturer, Universal Geneve. Hermes timepieces which originate from that period are nowadays very rare and they are considered as cherished items in the eyes of collectors.
As far as the modern day Hermes timekeepers are concerned, they are more and more made in the brand’s own manufacturing facilities. In order to make this possible, Hermes first bought a quarter of Vaucher Manufacture (owned by Parmigiani Group) in 2006. More recently, in 2012, Hermes likewise acquired production facilities of Natéber SA and a stake in Joseph Erand SA. All of these allowed Hermes to launch its own watches with mechanical movements, both with manual and automatic winding, while the creation of a chronograph equipped pieces is likewise in the plans.
However, because of its desire to present watches with innovative and ground-breaking complications, Hermes is also collaborating with other watchmakers. Previously, the cooperation with Agenhor led by Jean-Marc Widerrecht spawned the creation of already iconic Hermes Le Temps Suspendu timekeeper which won numerous prizes. Even its latest ladies’ version is in the competition for the Ladies’ Complication accolade at this year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve. Something similar was done with the latest timepiece by Hermes we are now reviewing. Since the brand opted for a flying tourbillon complication which is beyond its production capabilities, Hermes established a relation with La Joux Perret SA movement manufacturer. After 18 months which were necessary to embody the conceived movement, Hermes in now finally presenting its first tourbillon timekeeper named Arceu Lift. Its H1923 caliber has the width of 14 ½ lignes (32.6 mm) and the height of 5.75 mm and includes 18 rubies. The movement is operating at the rate of 21,600 vph and offers a power reserve of 90 hours.
As it has been mentioned early on, the inspiration for the watch and its main decorative elements was the artistic composition featured on the elevator at Hermes’ headquarters in Paris. This double H motif engraving made of wrought iron was originally made in 1923 (hence the movement’s name H1923) in order to mark the wedding of Emile Hermes who was the grandson of the Maison’s founder, and Julie Holland, the daughter of a luxury wood items dealer. The marriage also marked the union of the two family-run businesses.
A Skeletonized Dial and a Tourbillon Cage Visible from Both Sides
Since Hermes was able to present a truly complex movement, it decided to show it off as much as possible from the front side which is why they made it with a skeletonized dial and why the multi-layered caliber is graced with hand-performed decorations. Its main-plate is finished with a chevron zigzag motif which can be seen on other products from the Arceau line, such as vintage furniture pieces. Other finishes of the movement include beveling of the bridges, screws and wheels, while two double H motifs at the top and the bottom display specular finishing. The only “proper” part of the dial that is not the part of the movement is a silvered flange with baton-shaped hour and minute markers which are used to tell the current time in the combination with the timekeepers 4N gilded steel hands.
The watch is placed inside a round 18K 5N rose gold case which has the diameter of 43 mm and the weight of 83 grams. On the front, there is a glare-proofed sapphire crystal, while the case-back has a small opening which shows its tourbillon from the rear side too. The rest of the case-back is in solid metal and decorated with the engraving of the brand’s logo – a Duc carriage with a horse. As it is stated, the featured water resistance is 30 meters, while the attachment of choice is a matte brown Havana alligator strap from the brand’s own workshops which locks with a safety folding clasp (in 18K 5N rose gold and with the weight of 24.87 grams).
Hermes Arceau Lift Tourbillon timekeeper is issued in a limited edition of 176 pieces which symbolizes the number of years of the brand’s existence (Hermes was founded in 1837). Each individually numbered model of the first tourbillon by Hermes will be sold at the price of around $170,200.