The Hermès Arceau L’Heure De La Lune features two large, static mother-of-pearl moons at 12 and 6 o’clock, while a pair of sub-dials for time and date float above them
That man’s oldest way of monitoring the passage of time – the cycle of the heavens – should remain a popular trope of watch design is perhaps hardly surprising; but that something so whimsical should be the subject of considerable inventiveness, and even innovation, perhaps is.
For instance, in 2015 the niche horologist Andreas Strehler, who knows a thing or two about gearing ratios, devised a Moon-phase display so accurate that it entered the Guinness Book of World Records, on the basis that (so long as it remains running) the lunar display would take no fewer than 2,060,757 years to deviate by one full day. That is clearly extreme, but the heavens remain a constant source of inspiration, both artistic and technical, for the world’s finest watchmakers.
This year’s star turn (if you will) comes courtesy of Hermès, the French luxury house with a recent habit of taking horology in playful new directions. Bear in mind that traditional moon-phase watches – expertly demonstrated by a new perpetual calendar from Montblanc – employ a disc decorated with two moons rotating behind an aperture over the course of the Moon’s cycle (29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 2.8 seconds, for those counting), with the lunar cycle demonstrated by how much of the moon is revealed.
Montblanc’s Heritage Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition 100
The Hermès Arceau L’Heure De La Lune turns this on its head, with two large, static mother-of-pearl moons at 12 and 6 o’clock, while a pair of sub-dials – one for the time, one for the date – float over them.
This gives you, by way of a kind of lunar eclipse performed by the sub-dials, the moon phase in both the northern and southern hemispheres at once, set against a background of either gleaming, starry aventurine or brutalist grey meteorite. The execution is as elegant as the idea, but the mechanics to achieve it are fiendish, and required the development of a complex module for which Hermès has patents pending.
Girard-Perregaux focuses on space with the Bridges Cosmos. On one side has a customisable laser-engraved star map, the other a globe that gives a GMT reading
For those looking for something more ethereal still, Girard-Perregaux leaves the moon behind and flies off into space with the Bridges Cosmos.
On one side is a customisable star map (you pick your favourite zodiac constellations), laser-engraved on blue-tinted titanium, rotating every 24 hours; on the other, a globe that turns to give a GMT reading, and show which hemisphere is in darkness and which in light. It’s a watch best viewed at night: Girard-Perregaux has used luminescent hydroceramic details to turn these displays into a fizzing cosmic light show in darkness.
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