The Hermès Arceau Mon Premier Galop canters the line between art and whimsy

dial of Hermes Acreau Mon Premier Galop watch

The Hermès Arceau Mon Premier Galop is the latest addition to the marque’s métiers d’art watches

First designed in 1978 by Henry d’Origny, Hermès’ Arceau watch has been a timeless and favoured staple of the maison’s offerings. The Arceau is easily recognisable, its name betrayed by the iconic stirrup-shaped lugs—a nod to the marque’s equestrian origin as a saddle and harness manufacturer. Its unique design has made it a popular choice for consumers as well as artists—many of whom see the distinctive design as a canvas ripe for experimentation.

A glance through the maison’s archives of métiers d’art watches reveals a covetable collection of Arceau timepieces turned into fine art. From the straight-out-of-science-fiction dial of the 2021 Arceau Space Derby (adorned with a pop-art-styled robot horse), to the intricate and eccentric dial of last year’s Arceau Wow, the Arceau has been the go-to medium whenever the marque seeks to flex its mastery.

dial of Hermes Arceau Space Derby
The dial of the 2021 Arceau Space Derby features a robot horse. Photo by Hermès

Hermès’ latest release—the Arceau Mon Premier Galop—sees the tried, tested, and beloved design return as the backdrop once again. A reinterpretation of the Mon Premier Galop design by artist Tong Ren (the artwork was first seen on a Hermès cashmere-silk blend shawl), the Arceau Mon Premier Galop features the portrayal of a horse taking its first stride.

dial of Arceau Mon Premier Galop
The Arceau Mon Premier Galop features a dial full of whimsy. Photo by Anita Schlaefli

Accompanying the horse is a butterfly, as well as a sun partially hidden by woven blue clouds. It’s a dial full of whimsy, evoking the frothy and mirthful fables of pixies and princesses. But don’t let that fool you—the artisan techniques used to create the image are dreadfully serious, meticulous and painstaking.

close up of work being done on the dial of the Arceau Mon Premier Galop
A host of meticulous artisan techniques was used to create the dial. Photo by David Marchon

The dial is put together from 30 jigsaw-like pieces, all of which are crafted with esteemed expertise. Both sky and sun are made from enamel—a process that requires the marque’s artisans to apply a multitude of enamel layers by hand, before drying them in a kiln to ensure a high degree of colour and contrast. Various shades of leather are then trimmed to strips of 0.5mm thick, before being painstakingly assembled—piece by piece—with gold and blue silk threads to form the horse. The result is a colourful dial that charms the eye, its allure magnified when one notices the contrast between the pristine enamel and the grainy textures of leather and silk.

side view of Hermes Arceau Mon Premier Galop
The Arceau Mon Premier Galop has a bezel set with 82 diamonds. Photo by Anita Schlaefli

Housed in a wearable white-gold, 38mm case, the watch boasts a bezel set with 82 diamonds. Limited to just 24 pieces, the Arceau Mon Premier Galop is no slouch in performance—powered by the marque’s automatic H1912 movement that features a respectable 50-hour power reserve.