On the metiers d’art front this year, Hermès has unveiled the stunning Arceau Tigre, created in partnership with the husband-and-wife team of Olivier and Dominique Vaucher. The timepiece marks the first time the shaded enamel (enamel ombrant) technique is used in watchmaking, and sports the motif of a tiger in the likeness of an illustration by Robert Dallet, an artist with whom Hermès collaborated in the 1980s.
As a technique, shaded enamel is derived from lithophanes – thin and translucent porcelain plates that display three-dimensional images when backlit. The design on a lithophane is formed by the porcelain’s varying thickness, which lets different amounts of light through to create this effect. In the Arceau Tigre, ambient light is used instead; to create the same effect, the tiger’s image is first carved in relief on a base of white gold, before translucent black enamel is applied over it and fired. This two-step process combines the best that each technique has to offer. The engraving is able to capture every nuance of Dallet’s original drawing, down to the individual strands of hair on the tiger. Enamelling, on the other hand, accentuates the engraving’s depth, as deeper parts of the engraving contain a thicker layer of enamel and appear correspondingly darker. The final product is an extremely lifelike recreation of a tiger that looks three-dimensional despite the smooth dial surface.
Housed in the asymmetric Arceau case, the timepiece has a simple two-hand layout that maximises the view of the dial art. The Arceau Tigre is limited to just 12 pieces worldwide.
- Dimensions: 41mm
- Functions: Hours, minutes
- Power Reserve: 50 hours
- Movement: Self-winding Hermès H1837
- Case: White gold
- Water Resistance: 30 meters
- Strap: Brown alligator with white gold ardillon buckle
This article was first published in WOW.