The Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris is a road steeped in prestige. The president’s official residence is found there, alongside some of the city’s most opulent shops with one of the more elegant and impressive buildings the flagship store of luxury leviathan, Hermès.
Established at number 24 in 1880, the brand’s original home is considered so special that elements of its interior have inspired the “Arceau Lift” — the first Hermès flying tourbillon wristwatch.
A limited edition release of only 176 pieces — this number marking Hermès’ age — means the watch is on sale for a cool US$165,000.
However, industry experts feel the Arceau Lift firmly secures a place for Hermès in the ever-expanding and highly competitive world of haute horlogerie.
The double H motif that decorates the dial can be seen all over Hermès flagship store. Sculpted from malleable wrought iron, a material embraced in the late 1800s as evidenced by the Eiffel Tower, the symbol is repeated in the hallways, staircases and is emblazoned on the cage of the beautiful Art Deco lift from which the watch takes its name.
The entwined double H design was created in 1900 to mark the wedding of Emile Hermès, grandson of the founder Thierry, and Julie Hollande, the daughter of a local and respected specialist in exotic woods, and has been the inspiration for many of Hermès’ 14 product divisions over the years.
For the company’s latest contribution to high horology, Hermès incorporated the double H symbol in the dial cutaway below 12 that reveals the mainspring barrel of the manually wound movement (with an impressive 90-hour power reserve), and again at 6 on the flying tourbillon — the hypnotic device that provides precision and horological excellence.
Every significant element of this timepiece has been thoughtfully chosen and named to imbue added meaning. The movement at the heart of the Arceau Lift is the Calibre H1923, named after the year the lift was installed at 24 Rue du Faubourg. Emile Hermès actually bought the entire building in 1923, adding the lift as part of his plan to transform the manufacturing location into a luxurious boutique — the upper levels still housing the workshops of the artisans.