Though measuring at a diametre of only 43mm, the Hermès Arceau Pocket Ailes et Ecailles is a thing of beauty that marries the expertise of three techniques within its white gold frame. Combining the art of scarab beetle elytra marquetry with meticulous engraving and miniature enamel painting, this limited edition pocket watch is a captivating manifestation of the maison's 2016 theme, 'Nature at Full Gallop'.
The birth of this masterpiece starts in the hands of the engraver who first sketches out on a gold plate the motif that was inspired by the Pierre Marie-designed Hermès beach towel. An engraving tool steadily carves out the pattern of waves and fins across the dial, after which it moves onto the enamellist who applies the craft of Grand Feu enamelling. Wielding a fine-tipped brush, glass powder is carefully dusted onto the carved hollows to form a symphony of red and blue shades — opaque in some areas and transparent in others — before going into the kiln. The process of several firings sets the enamel, in additional to transforming the lacquer with subtle nuances.
The dial is then passed back to the engraver to be delicately hammered out to accentuate the eye and mouth of the fish, as well as to give the newly enamelled surfaces a good hand polishing. At this point, the marquetry expert steps in to set the scales of the fish. Prior to doing so, each scale has to be individually measured against a stencil to ensure a perfect shape and size before it is carefully cut from the beetle elytra. Once set into place, the scales radiate a glowing shimmer as the gradient of colours catch the light.
The exquisitely completed dial is then fitted over the watch's mechanism, sitting neatly over a Manufacture Hermès H1837 movement that is entirely hand assembled and decorated according to Swiss traditions. Evoking the iconic design codes of the Arceau line in a pocket watch version, a burnished alligator cord strap treated and stitched in Hermès' workshops gives the Arceau Pocket Ailes et Ecailles its finishing touch.
A concerto of artisanal craft and cultivated techniques honed with the rich heritage of Hermès, the Arceau Pocket Ailes et Ecailles is a scene of nature immortalised — an infinite wonder that awes with every stroke, at every glance.
The Hermés Arceau Pocket Ailes et Ecailles is two-piece limited numbered edition.