MASKED AM­BI­TION

On the Dres­sage L’Heure Masquée, Her­mès in­vites users to play a game of hide-and-seek with an hour hand that mis­chie­vously dis­ap­pears un­til sum­moned.

Esquire Malaysia Watch Guide - - Contents - Words by Aaron De Silva

Play­ing with their “Mys­terieus” theme, the Her­mès Dres­sage L’Heure Masquée has a hid­den sec­ond time zone.

EVER BEEN SO PRE­OC­CU­PIED with what you’re do­ing that you lose track of time? We’ll haz­ard a guess and say yes. Don’t lose faith—it hap­pens to the best of us. Speak­ing of wan­der­ing hours, the won­drously whim­si­cal house of Her­mès has come up with a watch that ex­presses ex­actly this cu­ri­ous pas­sage of time, al­beit with a de­cid­edly poetic sen­si­bil­ity. On its new Dres­sage L’Heure Masquée (‘Time Masked’), the mis­chievous hour hand re­mains hid­den be­hind the con­stantly mov­ing minute hand un­til the wearer de­cides he wants to know the ex­act time.

Press­ing a but­ton in­te­grated in the crown coaxes the hour hand from its hid­ing place to re­veal the real time, but once pres­sure is re­leased, it re­turns to its hide­out like a play­ful child. There’s also a sec­ond time zone that ap­pears in an aper­ture at 6 o’clock, which takes the lead of the hour hand and only re­veals it­self at the same time the lat­ter does. A pusher at 9 o’clock al­lows you to set this sub­sidiary time.

The base cal­i­bre, H1925, made in-house at the Vaucher man­u­fac­ture, drives the GMT func­tion, while the quirky mech­a­nism is co­or­di­nated by a mod­ule de­vel­oped by the man­u­fac­ture and master watch­maker Jean-Marc Wieder­recht. A peek through the sap­phire case back re­veals the finely fin­ished move­ment, with its cir­cu­lar-grained and snailed main­plate, satin-brushed bridges and ro­tor dec­o­rated with Her­mès’s sig­na­ture H-mo­tif.

“L’Heure Masquée is all about in­no­va­tion and sin­gu­lar­ity. In­no­va­tion be­cause this watch­mak­ing mod­ule was cre­ated from scratch. Sin­gu­lar­ity be­cause this is about play­ing with time, in­ter­act­ing with the dis­play of its steady flow,” said Luc Per­ra­mond, CEO of La Montre Her­mès, speak­ing to WorldTem­pus at BaselWorld.

There are a cou­ple of metaphors that can be gleaned from Her­mès’s light­hearted in­ter­pre­ta­tion of time—the ethe­real na­ture of time; the pre­cious­ness of time; the im­por­tance of seiz­ing mo­ments that truly mat­ter; how to live in the mo­ment. Philo­soph­i­cal me­an­der­ings aside, it’s also the per­fect time­piece for the age of irony we live in: since most of us use our smart­phones to tell the time any­way, watches are sim­ply cool play­things.

You wouldn’t have ex­pected Her­mès to come up with some run-of-the-mill com­pli­ca­tion any­way. In fact, we look for­ward to what the mai­son pro­duces each year, hop­ing to be sur­prised each time, and rarely fail­ing to do so. For a company with such a short his­tory in watch­mak­ing—it was only in 2000, 22 years after the es­tab­lish­ment of La Montre Her­mès, that it be­gan a ded­i­cated col­lab­o­ra­tion with Vaucher—the list of poetic watches is rather im­pres­sive, thanks in part to an on­go­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion with Wieder­recht.

The first ex­er­cise yielded the ground­break­ing, award-win­ning Temps Sus­pendu (‘Time Sus­pended’) in 2011, which al­lowed users to ‘sus­pend’ time by despatch­ing the hour and minute hands to a V-shaped in­dent at 12 o’clock, where they would re­main un­til in­structed to dis­play the cur­rent time. The idea was to em­power wear­ers with the sense that they were no longer slaves to the 24-hour day, that they could dis­tort the flow of time at whim.

Another ver­sion of the watch was in­tro­duced two years later, fea­tur­ing a new com­pli­ca­tion: a small seconds sub­dial that cu­ri­ously in­di­cated only 24 seconds–the hand makes five full ro­ta­tions ev­ery two min­utes, and, rather quirk­ily, moves in a counter-clock­wise di­rec­tion. The mod­ule was also de­vel­oped by Wieder­recht. L’heure Masquée con­tin­ues this ec­cen­tric tra­di­tion, and is limited to 1,000 pieces in steel and 500 pieces in 5N rose gold. Both ver­sions are sup­plied with matte ha­vana al­li­ga­tor straps for a hand­some fin­ish.

Top to bot­tom: Her­mès Dres­sage L’Heure Masquée, bot­tom view of the move­ment, top view of the move­ment.

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