It’s easy at times for those of us in the relative bubble of the luxury watch hobby to forget that mechanical timepieces in this day and age are just that – luxuries, with little in the way of day-to-day utility for most people. Nearly every electronic device most of us interact with, from our phones to our cars, provides more accurate timekeeping with greater functionality, leaving the wristwatch relegated to much the same place the pocket watch was in the early 20th century. What Hermès has now done in creating a pure piece of luxury spectacle, not just as a mechanical watch but as a one-of-a-kind mechanical pocket watch, is a fine expression of the art form of watchmaking as it stands unshackled from the restraints of practicality. Also, it has a Tyrannosaurus Rex on it. With the playfully named and one-of-a-kind Hermès Arceau Pocket Aaaaargh!, the brand has fully embraced the playful, expressionistic side of haute horlogerie, combining the intricate complications of a minute repeater and a tourbillon into a thoroughly impractical, stylized white-gold pocket watch case emblazoned with finely detailed leather work.
It’s a rare moment when the most interesting element of a watch containing both a tourbillon escapement and a minute repeater is its case, but for the Hermès Arceau Pocket Aaaaargh!, that may just be true. The simple, polished 48mm white gold form of this pocket watch case features a single, wide attached wire lug for its alligator leather cord strap, along with a small signed crown at 2 o’clock. The real star of the show, of course, is the cover. Nearly the entire cover is dedicated to “Aaaaargh!,” the complex leather mosaic designed by noted English artist Alice Shirley. In a process worthy of Hermès’ legendary reputation as a leather goods house, thousands of individual fragments of leather are separately dyed, thinned to only 0.5mm, and hand-applied to the enameled surface to create the vibrant T. Rex motif. The centerpiece of this intricate mosaic is the Grand Feu enamel eye, domed above the level of the mosaic and visible from both sides of the cover. The sapphire caseback allows for an in-depth view of the movement within.
In contrast to the vibrant and detailed mosaic work of the case, the white enamel dial of the Hermès Arceau Pocket Aaaaargh! is clean and elemental. The swooping stylized Arabic numerals of the hours and simplistic leaf hands appear, in images, to be suitably antique for the pocket watch context, while the detailed 6 o’clock tourbillon adds a layer of visual complexity. As an added touch, the top bridges surrounding the tourbillon form a stylized Hermès “H” emblem.
Hermès powers the Arceau Pocket Aaaaargh! with the manufacture H1924 automatic tourbillon minute repeater movement. In addition to combining two of the most difficult complications in mechanical watchmaking, this movement also features a micro-rotor layout for better visibility through the caseback. Finishing is surprisingly simple, with perlage on the base plate contrasted with simple brushing and polished anglage for the skeletonized bridges. One of the bridges features another hidden nod to the overall dinosaur theme, with a skeleton design that contains a hidden T. Rex profile. For performance, the H1924 offers a robust 90-hour power reserve at a 21,600 bph beat rate. Hermès finishes the design with a narrow cord strap in dark-green alligator leather.
With the Arceau Pocket Aaaaargh!, Hermès playfully explores the fanciful and imaginative side of watchmaking, even if the end product is far from utilitarian. As a one-off piece, discussing MSRP for the Hermès Arceau Pocket Aaaaargh! is somewhat disingenuous, but pricing is available upon request. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.