Let’s just get this out of the way: the new Hermès Arceau Le Temp Voyageur is an Hermès timepiece through and through. As such, it delivers its intended functions in the most enchanting manner possible. Indeed, Hermès is a Maison known for creating “objects” that transcend the monotony of everyday life. They do this as only the French are capable of doing by creating objects that stem from uncompromising expertise, while still radiating “a lightness of the unexpected.” These objects are true companions for those who wear them, and while they are functional, they are not necessarily designed to be practical because, well, that would miss the point entirely.
Instead, Hermès goes out of its way to make everyday life a playground, imbuing each moment, and each INSTANT with unexpected delight designed to live forever in your memory. For Hermès, time is simply another venue for whimsy, L and rather than simply measuring it, Hermès dares to explore other avenues of expressing it.
Indeed, much like the rest of their “objects” Hermès time is designed to arouse emotions, and open up interludes to create “spaces of spontaneity and recreation.” No easy task then, although, to be fair, the Arceau Le Temp Voyageur is probably the most practical of all the Maison’s most whimsical creations, and may we say: they’ve come out with another winner.
According to Laurent Dordet, CEO of La Montre Hermès, “We seek to share with our customers and friends, a qualitative time rather than quantitative time. Which means that, of course, we target to create reliable and technical watches, but our watches must evoke fantasy, humor and nearness. And this complication that we have just unveiled, which is called Arceau Le temps voyageur — ‘traveling time’ — will address exactly how Hermès thinks about time, specifically conveying the idea of time and travel, as it stands for Hermès.”
And what stands for Hermès is something definitely “out of the box.” Which makes it all the more astounding that the origins of Hermès are deeply rooted in the world championship horses. That’s right, the Maison started life in 1837 as a producer of harnesses and saddles in Paris. This is why equestrian motifs have always played a major role in Hermès’ designs. This is no less evident that in the distinctive lines of the Arceau watch, which was designed by Henri d’Origny in 1978. The very essence of “Hermès style,” the Arceau watch is distinguished by its upper horseshoe-shaped attachments and dial marked by distinctively slanted, or ‘galloping’ Arabic numerals.
“We started this project three years ago, just about the time we launched the Arceau L’Heure De La Lune Models,” says Philippe Delhotal, Artistic Director of La Montre Hermès. “And this new watch today is an invitation to travel. It is really a way for us to pay tribute to the importance that travel holds within RMS Hermès.”
“We could say that this (is) a new expression of the World Time, an alternate technical and aesthetic take on the complication. The starting point for us was really to consider how we can display time in motion. We wanted to have an interpretation, which runs a bit counter to what you see in the industry. So we really pushed ourselves to take this horological challenge and take it on with a sense of playfulness that takes us around the globe.”
Safe to say, then, that the Arceau Le Temp Voyageur is not exactly a GMT, nor is it a World Timer, but something in between. Safe to say, as well, that in the hands of the master craftsmen of Hermès the Voyageur is a travel watch like no other.
Nestled squarely within the round Arceau case is a subdial or “satellite” that indicates the local hours and minutes. This satellite hovers over a fictitious and imaginary equestrian world map with landmasses named after equestrian terms such as “Éthologie Equine,” “Dressage,” or “Soins,” etc., the design of which was originally implemented by Jérôme Colliard on a giant globe for the 2016 Saut Hermès showjumping competition in Paris, and later re-interpreted by Colliard for the Hermès “Planisphère d’un monde équestre” silk scarf.
The world is surrounded by a city ring, which like traditional world timers lists 24 major cities each representing one of the 24 major time zones. Further, the city ring is asymmetrical, and positioned below center of the dial to make way for an arched aperture at 12 o’clock that displays home time on a 24-hour scale. This eliminates the need for a day and night indicator.
So far so well and good, but what truly sets the Arceau Le Temp Voyageur apart from “regular” GMTs or world timers is the way the time for each city or timezone on the ring is indicated. Because for Hermès “traveling time” is quite literal and the poetic manner in which the Arceau Le Temp Voyageur conveys this is truly quite magical.
And by magical we mean the local time satellite literally glides over the world map and around the city ring as it “travels” and points to the relevant city or timezone. A pusher at 9 o’clock moves the satellite in one-hour increments as it moves along the 24 cities. A small red arrow on the satellite takes care of the pointing and, itself, moves around the satellite. The arrow even changes its orientation as the satellite makes its way around the ring.
So one can only imagine the complexity of the mechanism orchestrating all this, and we have Jean-François Mojon to thank for it. The CEO of Chronode SA, a specialist developer of mechanical watch movements and complications, Mojon partnered with La Montre Hermès to develop and execute the exclusive 122-piece “traveling time” module integrated within the Hermès H1837 mechanical self-winding movement, which oscillates at 28,800 VpH to give the Arceau Le Temp Voyageur 40 hours of autonomy.
And setting the time couldn’t be simpler (at least, for anyone familiar with world timers). First, use the pusher to position the satellite opposite the city closest to your home, and if the city of choice uses Summer time, position the arrow at the “S” next to the city. This is where another Hermès-centric feature is revealed: for non-English speaking countries, the letter isn’t an “S,’ but the first letter of whatever the word for Summer is in that country’s native language, such as “V” for verano in Spanish, or “K” for kalokairi in Greek. Cool.
Next, pull the crown out to the second position to set the correct time on the satellite. Then, push the crown into the first position and turn it until the same time is displayed in the Home Time window. From this point on, you can “travel” the world by simply pressing the same pusher at 9 o’clock to move the satellite around the city ring in one-hour increments, making the Arceau Le Temp Voyageur more of a dual timezone watch rather than a traditional world time or GMT.
“It is important to understand again that, when we take on a complication — a traditional complication — we always try to bring something different to it. Otherwise, we have no reason to pursue it,” continued Philippe Delhotal. “If we were to present the complication the same way as do the rest of the industry, that would not make sense to us. It is really key, for us, to bring a new idea to this multi-timezone concept. But we also kept ourselves constrained to create something that will be very easy and intuitive to use.
“We have a certain expertise established with the idea of the floating satellite, it is really an Hermès signature now. We used this approach, technically speaking, with the Arceau L’Heure De La Lune. It still took us three years to develop the traveling time module with Mr. Mojon, but at least we have this experience, and it has become a real signature for us.
“What I personally love about the Arceau Le temps voyageur is that floating dial which gives a mystical feeling to the timepiece. I love this idea when you can’t really see what lies beneath and what makes it all work. It’s also about triggering our curiosity, you know? You’re thinking, ‘How is it showing the time? How is it floating over the imaginary planet?’ This is something I really love because it is really this wonderment that brings La Montre Hermès’ storytelling intentions to life.”
The absolutely unique Arceau Le Temp Voyageur comes in two versions: the first is a dark, charcoal grey affair with a 41mm platinum case and grade 5 titanium bezel both bead-blasted and treated in matte black DLC. Its galvanized dial features light grey transferred continent names and contours; oceans laser-engraved then lacquered; and charcoal-grey transferred meridians and parallels. Its city flange is sandblasted black with silver-toned transferred city names. And its sandblasted mobile satellite features a black gold-lacquered rim with silver-toned powdered transferred Arabic numerals, and black gold hands coated with Super LumiNova.
The second version is a smaller albeit brighter affair and comes in a 38mm case in 316L stainless steel. It’s galvanized dial features blue transferred continent names and contours; and blue transferred meridians and parallels. Its city flange is satin-brushed blue with white transferred city names. And it’s sandblasted mobile satellite features a blue-lacquered rim with white transferred Arabic numerals, and rhodiumplated hands coated with Super-LumiNova. And while the larger 41mm Arceau Le Temp Voyageur is considered the flagship version, it’s the smaller (and brighter) 38mm stainless steel model that seems to get most of the attention.
The Hermès Arceau Le Temp Voyageur is proof that even old dogs can be taught new tricks, and is another stunning addition to the Hermès Arceau collection.