Hermès Arceau Millefiori
The word ‘millefiori’ is Italian and means ‘a thousand flowers’—which is a more than fitting description for the unique dial of this new model emerging from the considerable depths of Hermès’ repertoire of artisans. Indeed, the Hermès Arceau Millefiori combines the talents of Hermès’ watchmakers in Switzerland with its crystal maker’s master craftspeople of Cristalleries Royales de Saint-Louis in the French Alsace in a most unusual encounter. Originating in nineteenth-century crystal paperweights that are the hallmark of one of the world’s oldest and most renowned crystal makers, the dials crafted by the traditional crystal blowers are hand-blown, drawn, pulled into the appropriate shape, covered with molten crystal, heated and reheated, then cut into 0.6 mm slivers to form a crystalline bed of flowers. While the Millefiori technique is still regularly practiced by glassblowers today, Saint-Louis is the only crystal maker to still regularly utilize it. It is only during the final cutting stage that the crystal dial, which is housed in either a 34mm (pink dial/raspberry-coloured alligator skin strap) or 41mm (blue dial/strap) white gold case reveals the full wealth of its pattern and the unique beauty of the artistic flowerbed with its vividly shimmering colours. The time is kept by hand-wound Calibre H1912 in the smaller version and hand-wound Calibre H1837 in the larger timepiece. For me, this is one of the most unique, playful, colourful and joyful collector’s items to emerge from the world of watches in 2014.