Designed in 1978 by Hermès’ legendary artistic director Henri d’Origny, the Arceau, arguably the Parisian brand’s most famous watch design, turns 40 this year. To celebrate Hermès is taking things back to basics with the Arceau 78.
The Arceau is instantly-recognisable. In fact, there are few watches as easy to identify at a glance, seeing as few watchmakers have the cache to pull off stirrup-inspired asymmetrical lugs and off-kilter, sloping numerals (imitating, we are told, numbers knocked around on horseback).
The design has seen plenty of interpretations over the decades, but this is likely the simplest to date. The 40mm case is mirror-polished steel and, despite being dubbed “very large” by Hermès is anything but. Compared to other Hermès pieces that might be the case, but on the natural Barenia calf leather strap it’ll fit even dainty wrists.
The dial too is steel, though bead blasted for a grained, matte effect and with a nice anthracite colouring, complete with contrasting cream numerals. Despite appearances, that cream is superluminova which you would only guess after turning the lights off.
The movement inside is Swiss quartz which might be a little disappointing, but this isn’t a piece of high watchmaking; it’s a stylistic statement. The fact that the Arceau 78 is testament to d’Origny’s incredible stylistic flair and, even as pared back as possible, is the ideal canvas for a timekeeper that is truly timeless.
Price & Specs:
- Model name: Hermès Arceau 78
- Dial/Case: 40 mm diameter, stainless steel case with beadblasted bezel
- Movement: Quartz, Swiss made
- Water resistance: 3 bar
- Price: TBC