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Hermès - Bench Test

Hermès Bench Test

Arceau Le Temps Voyageur

Although Hermès has been collaborating with the watchmaking world since the beginning of the 20th century, the first watches signed by the brand appeared in 1978. As Axel Dumas himself admitted during a presentation attended by the author of this column, it was not as successful as had been hoped. Craftsmanship skills stem from experience, as Hermès is doubtless more keenly aware than any other luxury company. This experience was acquired by taking the time necessary to achieve the excellence that distinguishes the brand. It took a long path to reach the Arceau Le temps voyageur, which immediately arouses our curiosity. Let’s see what this new creation and its intriguing complication have to reveal.

Test Bench

Arceau Le Temps Voyageur © Hermès

Exterior :

The Arceau collection represents the origis of Hermès watches. Its asymmetrical design is inspired by stirrups and thus evokes the saddler’s trade that gave rise to the brand. It is offered in 38 and 41mm interpretations for this new reference and we examined the 41mm steel version. Despite its asymmetry and the constraints induced, its ergonomics and balance are optimal. The matt appearance of the black DLC treatment on the beadblasted bezel underlines the contrast of the main dial displaying the map of an unreal globe devoid of borders and whose imaginary continents bear names also inspired by the equestrian world. Time can be read off on an applied dial perched above the base dial. A red pointer is displayed on the tangent of the circumference of the time dial and that of the base dial by pointing to the name of the city corresponding to the time zone that one wishes to display. By successively pressing the corrector located opposite the crown, the hours display evolves in a poetic circular movement to display the time in the desired time zone. The hours hand jumps from one hour to the next. Finally, a 24-hour disc enables local time to be read off in an aperture at 12 o’clock on the periphery of the city bezel. 

Test Bench

Arceau Le Temps Voyageur © Hermès


We honestly did not expect such a technical surprise from Hermès, yet here it is. The 2006 acquisition of a stake in Vaucher Manufacture has naturally enabled Hermès to acquire a certain competence and credibility in watchmaking and has contributed to the arrival of such a marvel in the brand’s collections. Nonetheless, the excellent results remain a very pleasant surprise. Powering this Arceau Le temps voyageur is self-winding Caliber H1837 launched in 2012. Its standard characteristics (11½ lignes, 28,800 vph, 40h power reserve) makes it an ideal candidate to equip the two case diameters. Originally designed to drive various complications, it finds here a worthy application of this vocation and its reliability is now well-proven after ten years of production. The horological complication is added to this base by a module comprising 122 components. Therein lies the intelligence and poetry characterizing this interpretation of a sophisticated complication. By scrolling through the time zones by pressing the corrector, the dial (hours, minutes) jumps from one time zone to another, describing a circle above the map. Its radialtangential drive cleverly hides the transmission and enables it to float above the main dial displaying the map. While avoiding any minimization of the effort deployed by the engineers and watchmakers in charge of its development, their stroke of genius lies in having been able to create a (very) relatively simple (and therefore reliable) system, without any loss of energy and capable of displaying the function in a novel, intuitive and poetic way. 

Test Bench

Arceau Le Temps Voyageur © Hermès


We are entrusted with a prototype for this test bench trial. In such cases, one generally usually has to be indulgent about certain observations or measurements when arriving at this stage. However, apart from the “prototype” engraving on the back of the case, nothing would have led us to imagine that it was not a series-made model freshly approved by quality control. The independent “Chronofiable” certification doubtless provides the answer for each purchaser, as well as a precious guarantee of reliability. The measurements of the table attest to an irreproachable chronometry for a caliber of this category. As far as the different functions linked to the complication are concerned, correcting them by means of the crown and the pusher located at 9 o’clock, as well as operating them, is all logical, quick, easy and once again jointly instill a sense of great reliability. 

As a WorldTempus reader, we are delighted to offer you the latest digital version of this GMT magazine that you can download here as well as the GPHG catalogue. Happy reading!

The Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève in the spotlight

GMT Magazine 78 © GMT Magazine


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