A marquetry masterpiece: Hermès Arceau Pocket Ailes et Ecailles

Minute marvels


By Wei Yeen Loh

A marquetry masterpiece: Hermès Arceau Pocket Ailes et Ecailles

It doesn’t take a lot to notice that Hermès Arceau Pocket Ailes et Ecailles is a delightful masterpiece of its own. The two-piece limited numbered edition sees a masterful process that takes place behind its intricate details, with a combination of the art of scarab beetle elytra marquetry and two techniques, engraving and miniature enamel painting. The engraver begins sketching a motif inspired by a beach towel on a gold plate, with waves and fins of the dial pattern taking shape, followed by Grand Feu enamelling. This is done via applying a specific amount of glass powder into the carved out hollows. After a few firings in the kiln, the bold blue and red shades begin to manifest slight gradations—some opaque, some translucent, and later on the dial’s fish motif is hammered out delicately. 

The marqeutry specialist joins in on the process at this point while the engraver is polishing the enamelled surfaces. Fragments of the beetle elytra (shell) are carefully cut to be prepared as scales of the fish. These fragments are individually placed on stencil and adjust to ensure that they meet the perfect size and shape. After that process is completed, they will be secured to the dial in the recesses prepared by the engraver and then fitted into a white gold case that was crafted in the maison’s workshops. Its natural colours come to effect here as the light dances across them, and the hand-assembled and decorated Manufacture Hermès H1837 movement can be glimpsed through the transparent sapphire crystal case-back. The complementing alligator hide cord strap and pouch are also crafted with precision. Upon cutting and stitching the leather together, a furrow that is pressed between the seam and edges will be softened by rubbing and polishing it repetitively. 


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