Something all the elite watch brands have in common is that they produce not just new collections, prestigious complications and in-house calibers, but also watches that reflect the range of metiers d’art. Hermès, fresh out of the gate with two new calibers, has long demonstrated its mastery of gemsetting, enameling and marquetry. Next month at Baselworld, it will introduce the Arceau Pocket Volutes, with a cover that combines a rare engraving/marquetry technique called ramolayage – after a scrolling (volutes) pattern is engraved in a fusion of white and rose gold, the scrolls are then ornamented, like a sculpture, with a tool called a scorper, giving them definition. The surface is then coated in ruthenium, varnish and, finally, enamel, giving it just the right hue and shine.
The pattern is inspired by a design by in-house designer Henri d’Origny for an Hermès silk scarf in 1972, thus also reflecting the brand’s heritage. It contains the Vaucher-made Hermès hand-wound caliber H1928
Each case takes about 150 hours of hand work, and therein lies the substance behind the value claim of the brand. “The philosophy of Hermès is to master the crafts required to achieve the best quality possible,” says Perramond. This desire to communicate its dedication to workmanship is what drove the brand to stage public demonstrations of its craftsmanship in a series of what it calls Festival des Métiers, says Perramond: “To demonstrate the sincerity of our obsession with quality.” The festival has been staged so far in New York City, Houston, San Francisco (where 18,000 people visited) and in Tokyo, where 30,000 people came to watch Hermès artisans demonstrate their crafts – making handbags, silk scarves, ties and watches. This fall, the festival makes its way to the Design Exchange in Toronto, Canada, from October 2-6.