The Arceau Cheval d’Orient collection by French high fashion house Hermès showcases the art of French lacquer.
Inspired by a Hermès service set, the series illustrates Oriental equestrian scenes and is a testament to the supreme craftsmanship of the artisans working for the Paris-based maison. Lacquering (developed in France in the late 17th century, in response to the popularity of Japanese and Chinese lacquerware) is usually associated with materials such as wood and bamboo, but the application of this technique to metal, as done in this case, is particularly impressive.
The artisan applies the first layers of lacquer (pigments mixed with a copal-based varnish) using a fine-tipped brush, then waits three days before redoing the process, a time-consuming procedure which might be repeated up to 30 times in order to achieve a deep dark base. Only then can the contours of the design be added with a pencil, before the painstaking process of actually painting the images can begin.
Each of these dials is fitted in a 41mm white gold Arceau case, while the watch is powered Manufacture Hermès automatic H1837 caliber. Only 24 numbered pieces will be released comprising this limited edition collection.