Hermès is quite a rare breed in the luxury watch industry, being a family-owned independent company particularly known for fashion and leatherwork. However, they are serious about watches too, and the Arceau watch designed by artist Henri d'Origny, with its distinctive wind-blown font and asymmetrical lugs, has also been around for a while. The new Hermès Arceau Chrono Titane is the latest evolution of the Arceau design, featuring a much sportier theme than previous incarnations.
Henri d'Origny joined Hermès in 1958, working in the maison's flagship boutique in Paris. He designed silk and leather goods for the company as well as iconic watch designs such as the Cape Cod, which turned 25 last year (our hands-on impressions here), as well as the original Arceau model in 1978.
The dial of the Hermès Arceau Chrono Titane is galvanic black with transferred white Arabic numerals and a minute track which features a red bar every minute and a red pip every five minutes. Many chronographs color-coordinate the chronograph hands, but here the central chronograph seconds hand and the running seconds hand at 3 o'clock are red, with the remaining hands being rhodium-plated. The running seconds indicator is made even easier to locate at a glance thanks to a contrasting grey exposed titanium ring around its perimeter. A date indicator is wedged in at 4:30 and uses the same whimsical font as the dial. The hour and minute hands could be described as leaf-shaped and should provide good legibility against the black dial.
The Hermès Arceau Chrono Titane features a 41mm bead-blasted grade 2 titanium (99% pure titanium, which is softer than the alloyed grade 5) case, achieving a kind of gunmetal grey look and enhancing the sporty character of this watch. The combination of a titanium case with a leather strap should also make this watch quite lightweight and easy on the wrist. The asymmetrical lugs are a long-standing feature of this collection and were inspired by stirrups, Hermès tells us. The watch face is covered by a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment, and is rated to a water-resistance of 3 bar (30m).
Included with the Hermès Arceau Chrono Titane is either a natural or a black embossed Barenia calfskin strap. Barenia calfskin is a signature leather of Hermès and was originally used for saddles, which adds to the equestrian theme. Powering the watch is a Swiss-made automatic movement with 37 jewels, which offers a 42 hour power reserve while oscillating at 28,000vph, or 4Hz. Hermès hasn't disclosed specifically which movement they're using, but it isn't one of their manufacture calibers.
The Arceau collection is a distinctive pillar of Hermès' design language, and with the Hermès Arceau Chrono Titane, it receives a few modern upgrades and a case size increase to appeal to a wider audience – Hermès actually refers to this size as a "Very Large Model." A manufacture caliber might have been nice, but one can still expect a well-made chronograph with a prestigious name and some unique design flair. The Hermès Arceau Chrono Titane has an asking price of $4,950. hermes.com