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As the faithful Hermès aficionados already know, the brand’s love affair with equestrian designs started way back in the 19th century, when the brand’s founder Thierry Hermès hand-stitched intricate horse saddles, marking the beginning of French house Hermès.
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 luxury watch is a development of the original Arceau, designed by Henri d’Origny in 1978 and here rethought by artist Gianpaolo Pagni.
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“When I choose a historical document as part of my project, I have to actually like the design,” Pagni says.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.
The luxury watch is produced in two limited series of 24 each. The first, in white gold, displays its equestrian motif at the heart of a dial featuring deep shades of aventurine enhanced by an abyss- blue alligator strap.
The second, in white gold set with diamonds, frame a luminous dial in mother-of-pearl and enamel, highlighted by a Chantilly alligator strap.
The new Hermes Arceau with its hours and minutes display is powered by a mechanical self-winding movement which, like the dial, case and bracelet, is developed in the Hermès Horloger workshops.