The Hermès Arceau Pocket Aaaaargh! Minute Repeater is a one-of-a-kind mechanical pocket watch combining acclaimed high complications like a minute repeater and a tourbillon; but what belies this tremendous serious act of watch mastery is actually the real highlight of this special Hermès Arceau – the real delight of the Aaaaargh! Minute Repeater pocket watch is actually its brightly coloured, highly whimsical cover, a work of complex leather mosaic designed by celebrated English artist Alice Shirley.
Hermès had collaborated with Alice Shirley since 2012 when the Parisian maison put her beautiful illustrations of flora and fauna on its scarves. In 2019, Hermès relied on her talents once again in rendering a howling wolf for the Arceau Awooooo wristwatch; earlier this year, a pair of Arceau Into the Canadian Wild watches were released to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary. Needless to say, the atelier has a penchant for working with whimsical artists like Kongo, casting some much needed levity.
The Arceau Pocket Aaaaargh! Minute Repeater is the third such horological collaboration between Hermès and artist extraordinaire Shirley. As customary for a pocket watch, the minute repeater tourbillon comes with a watch cover that is not customary at all – completely decorated, it departs from usually plain spoken silver, bejewelled or engraved affairs and adopts Shirley’s deft artistic flourishes for a more vibrant countenance. It’s not even the expected fauna but that of a creature of titanic legend – a Tyrannosaurus Rex is made using thousands of individual fragments of leather that are separately dyed and thinned to only 0.5mm.
The leather mosaic is than painstakingly hand-applied to the enamelled pocket watch cover and then topped off with a beautiful Grand Feu enamel eye – a glossy cabochon which looks especially life-like in the light. Beneath its elaborate cover lies a dial of solid gold layered with fired white enamel and traditional numerals expressed in unique Hermès typography and a circular opening which gives a glimpse of the Hermès Arceau Pocket Minute Repeater’s hidden depths – a flying tourbillon bearing the brand’s signature double “H” cage.
Suffice it to say, even powered with a symbol of haute horlogerie like a manufacture H1924 automatic tourbillon minute repeater movement, the Arceau Pocket Aaaaargh! is emblematic of a timepiece specially made for Hermès aficionados who share the maison’s nounquaint approach to watchmaking. Given its uniquely artistic qualities, the Aaaaargh! minute repeater pocket watch will be produced in just two exemplars , a one-off creation in white gold and another in pink and available for US$338,000 – within the realm of similar high complication timepieces of the genre of metiers d’art watches.
The other design elements of the 48mm pocket watch are more down to earth than Shirley’s jurassic expression; both precious metal cases are polished with a single wire lug attached, bearing an alligator leather cord strap. Underneath the intricate cover is a clean white dial with an opening at six o’clock for the flying tourbillon. The Arceau Aaaaargh! minute repeater pocket watch offers a power reserve of 90 hours and can be seen from the sapphire crystal case-back. The bridges of the calibre are open-worked, and at a distance, reminiscent of exposed bones of a dinosaur excavation site but up-close, the silhouette of the T-Rex muse is apparent on the barrel bridge.
Hermes Arceau Pocket Aaaaargh! Minute Repeater Price & Specs
Movement Manual winding H1924 with 90 hours power reserve
Case 43mm Rose or white gold with 30 metres water resistance
Strap Leather cord