Fun engineering suspends belief
The Herm?s Arceau Le Temps Suspendu wristwatch is playful and fun, and it is also a feat of horological engineering that some said was impossible.
It is visually simple: a two-hand watch with a retrograde date subdial in a lower portion of the dial. Yet the development of this mechanism called for the involvement of Jean-Marc Weiderrecht, watchmaker extraordinaire and voted Best Watchmaker at the 2007 Grand Prix de l'Horlogerie de Geneve.
As the name suggests, the watch suspends time. It erases it from the dial at the push of a button, allowing the user to freeze whatever moment he wishes or, philosophically and horologically, put the world in a state of pause whenever he wants.
This simple act is very complex, and that is why Weiderrecht became involved. The watch is actually a triple retrograde complication module, the first of its kind, which disengages the hour and minute hand from time-keeping functions and moves them into a zone that people are beginning to call 'Herm?s time'. The two hands move towards an area near the 12 o'clock position, but not in any way that would actually indicate a false time. The hard part of engineering all this had to do with making the hands jump out of sync with real time but be able to jump back in as commanded to a different spot that would be correct at that later time.
As opposed to a normal retrograde, which will just jump back to the same place every time, this system has them jumping back to any time indication needed while remaining accurate. The date indicator hand will disappear from view when this happens but will also jump to whatever date is correct when the owner eventually 'releases time from his control'.
This unique piece made by Herm?s in support of the Only Watch auction has a 43mm case of palladium and a blue grained dial with a herringbone decoration, the material and colour distinguishing it from other Le Temps Suspendu models. The hands are skeletonised. The 15-line 4Hz self-winding mechanical movement has a 42-hour power reserve and boasts circular grained and snailed bridges, while the oscillating weight has C?tes de Gen?ve decoration. The case back is affixed with six screws and with the engraved words 'Only Watch 2011'.
The crown used for winding and setting the time is at 2 o'clock, and at 9 o'clock is a small button that gives you the power to suspend time.