I am, it would appear, a sucker for a well-done dial. To put an even finer point on it, if the dial treatment – matte vs gloss, smooth vs textured, flat vs dimensional, and so on – can manage to pull the entirety of a watch together, I am drawn in. Frankly, that’s the closest I’ve ever come to putting that sort of je ne sais quoi into words. Perhaps it’s simpler to just show an example. Fortunately, we’ve got the recently-announced Hermès Arceau 78 to help do just that.
To be fair, when I first saw the photos of the Hermès Arceau 78, I was drawn to Hermès’ characteristic numerals that look as if they’re being swept along in a whirlwind current. Some days, time certainly does feel like it moves like that. For those slower days, it could be interpreted as a reminder of just how fluidly time moves along. This font style for the numerals is a trait of the Arceau line as we saw hands-on in the Hermès Arceau Chrono Titane here, for example. But while those numerals are fun, what really is the star of the dial, for me, is the anthracite dial.
Here, Hermès has given it a grained, or rough, surface. On one hand, it looks like you’ve done a not-so-great job spray painting something in multiple layers without managing to wet sand between the layers. On the other hand, it does give it the look of rugged robustness that you might not otherwise expect from the brand. As I mentioned at the outset, it’s not just this dial treatment alone that seals the deal.
It’s when the dial of the Hermès Arceau 78 is paired with the bead-blasted bezel on the 40mm case (30m water-resistant) that things really come together. It’s a stunning contrast to the high polish on the rest of the case and the wire-style lugs, and I love it. On one hand, it’s a practical consideration. If you’ve got a smooth high-polish bezel, it just becomes a magnet for smudges and fingerprints. Give it something that’s more matte – or in this case, microscopically roughed up – and you’ve got a watch that looks clean day-in, day-out. Then, when you compare the light-absorbing appearance of the front of the watch to the rest of the case, you’ve got this implied duality in the presentation. Is it a dress watch? Is it a casual, everyday watch? That’s for you, dear reader, to decide.
Regardless of how you use the watch, I’m glad that the brand saw fit to make the numerals and the black gold hands luminous. It keeps the vintage sort of look with the cream color (and a nod to the lineup’s history starting in 1978) but keeps things practical in terms of readability. Also practical, but perhaps less of a crowd pleaser, is the choice of a Swiss-made quartz movement. Presumably, it helps to keep the watch lighter and thinner, but if I were to be putting CHF 3,150 down on the barrel, I’m going to expect something more from my movement.
Then again, the target audience of the Hermès Arceau 78 may not be those who count themselves as part of the watch-geek family. That said, I can’t help but be totally drawn into the dial of the watch. If, like me, you want to put this on your wrist, you’ll need to sit tight until April 2019, as that is when the watch will be available for a price of, again, CHF 3,150. And, if you pick one up, just let me try it on for a few moments, promise? Learn more at hermes.com