Her­mès Arceau Mille­fiori

Plaza Watch International - - The Best of Baselworld 2014 - ED

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.

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