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.
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.