by Jincy IypeApr 26, 2021
Watches & Wonders, the acclaimed international watchmaking summit returns this year in a live format from March 30 – April 5, 2022, turning the city of Geneva into an epicentre of the luxury watchmaking world, with global brands exhibiting their stellar watch designs and novelties, intertwined with visually stunning, artistic scenographies. The first physical event of Watches & Wonders held in the Palexpo exhibition centre in Switzerland, is designed as a reunion, with a masterfully planned program to spotlight exhibiting Maisons, nearly 40 fine watchmaking and high-end jewellery brands such as Bulgari, Cartier, Chanel, and Rolex, and more.
Returning once again to the week-long, annual watch fair, Hermès Horloger presents their new Arceau watch: Arceau Le temps voyageur, displayed through an immersive artwork designed as a “phantasmagorical" escapade, where visitors will be able to travel, discover and experience the notion and nature of time. The scenography titled Time travels the world, imagined by Canadian artist Sabrina Ratté takes onlookers into the universe of Hermès, combining the rigorous discipline of an object "designed to last through time". Time, as an impalpable concept and a tangible sequence, is explored and celebrated, by means of a singular approach to mechanical watchmaking, displayed as a playful and fantastic vision of the hours of the world. "It is a beautiful escape that seems to fulfil our dream of ubiquity: being everywhere at once, travelling the world in a few steps," shares the French luxury brand.
Ratté shares that the equestrian planisphere, a drawing made for Hermès and reproduced on the watch's face, served as the genesis of the scenography. "It represents a map made of imaginary continents. This idea of imaginary mainlands resonated at once, as it is linked in many ways to my artistic interests and practice. I knew right away that this would be the basis of the project. Secondly, the concept of the watch addresses the question of the relationship between time and ubiquity, thanks to the simultaneous presence of different time zones. I, therefore, gave a lot of thought to this notion, as well as to the subjectivity linked to the perception of time, in relation to space. The aim here was to address the question of this (virtual) proximity to places that are nevertheless physically distant, a proximity made possible by technologies such as satellite images and new means of communication. I asked myself how this perception of space affects our relationship to time. Some of the central elements of the scenography refer directly to Hermès' craft and their object's refinement," she adds.
In the Folds of Time
"Time travels the world offers a chance to explore non-linear time and space, inspired by ancient optical instruments and ultra-contemporary digital devices, intertwining past, present and future. Combining a sophisticated measuring tool with a representation of terrestrial space, the Arceau Le temps voyageur watch is part of a longstanding tradition of craftsmanship, technology and the art of time," they continue.
Speaking about her first encounter with Hermès as well as their brief, Ratté reveals, "It was in February 2020 at the Cité des Arts in Paris. I was then lucky enough to come to Geneva last year to discover the scenography created by Clément Vieille and Pierre Pauze at Watches & Wonders, which showcased the new Hermès H08. I was also able to visit the Ateliers d'Hermès Horloger in Le Noirmont, which further inspired me. Post this, the teams briefed me about the new Arceau Le temps voyageur watch, and we began thinking about the scenography that would best represent and accompany its launch at the fair this year."
Ratté, who spends her time between Montreal and Marseille, focuses on the multiple manifestations of the digital image - analog video, 3D animation, photography, printing, sculpture, virtual reality and installation. The constant integration of new techniques allows her to explore the themes that run through her oeuvre in ever-changing forms, drawing influence from the realms of architecture and the digital environment, our perception of the world, the relationship we have with the virtual aspect of existence, in tandem with fusion between technology and the organic world. Her works are situated halfway between abstraction and figurative, landscape and architecture, and on the thin line that separates the real from the virtual, which also bleeds into her latest commission for Hermès, allowing viewers to “cross time and space” with her installation.
By skirting around and immersing herself into these boundless possibilities, the digital artist is able to construct a creative bridge between traditional skills and contemporary technologies, whisking spectators away from one country to another, flitting from imaginative terrains and territories. The scenography cites science-fiction, technology and cinema as inspiration, where the terrestrial landscapes imagined by Ratté transform before visitors in real time.
Twelve interactive landscapes mirroring various time zones of the world greet one upon arrival, while a monumental panorama unfolds inside the atrium. An awe-aspiring, celestial sky speckled with constellations draws the eye upwards automatically.
The earth and the sky witnessed from space or reflected by fragments of glass coalesce into each other to form a harmonious choreography, "where time flows sometimes slowly, almost frozen, while occasionally accelerating and condensed." A kinetic mobile remains magically suspended between the created heaven and earth, adjoined by watches that gravitate like satellites around it.
Time, a Hermès Object
The scenography for Hermes at Watches & Wonders 2022 is a whirlwind of time and its unfathomable essence – as the planet revolves and rotates perpetual, time gets perceived differently in different cities – and the wristwatch tells us of the undulating time, a tangible compass restlessly mapping the fourth dimension.
“I am a human and a world in myself; released from daily contingencies, I simply merge with time. Sometimes it refuses my approach and I don’t force the issue, as I know it moves too fast for me. There is no need to rush, I just wait patiently and at last it stops. I get up and resume the dance, turning the next corner.”
Sitting elegantly on the wrist, the Arceau Le temps voyageur watch’s slim presence is the only tangible link with the world and its shifting, illusionary presence, gliding with its rhythm as it spins between the hours. Shaped by the hands of artisans, the new watch, launched at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022, is practical, functional and “radiates the lightness of the unexpected… For Hermès, time is also an object. Its inherent tension is translated by the house into a singular characteristic. Rather than measuring, ordering, and seeking to control it, Hermès dares to explore another time, designed to arouse emotions, open up interludes and create spaces for spontaneity and recreation,” states the French luxury house.
I hold the world in balance on my wrist.
The original Arceau watch designed by Henri d’Origny in 1978 is given a new, fresh expression in style, evoking the "spirit of travel" in its being. Crafted in platinum and titanium or in steel, the watch design comes in two models of resigned black and midnight blue and features a stoic, round case with asymmetrical lugs that reveals a singular reinterpretation by Hermès of classic Haute Horlogerie complications that voyage across the hours of the world. Developed exclusively for Hermès, the “travelling time” mechanism places a disc-type display of 24 time zones, to meander across the globe. “The satellite gravitates on a fantasy map, imagined by Jérôme Colliard for the “Planisphère d’un monde équestre” silk scarf,” explains Hermès.
The home time indication at 12 o’clock as well as the mobile counter are driven by a 122-component module, measuring a sleek 4.4 mm thick, and is assimilated within the Hermès H1837 mechanical self-winding movement. This mechanism powers the hours, minutes and dual-time display along with designating cities. The two models, one with a 41mm-diameter platinum version with a matt black DLC-treated titanium bezel and a 38mm steel iteration, are fitted with alligator or swift calfskin straps. These are made exclusively in Hermès Horloger’s own workshops, employing the house’s long-established saddle-making and leather craftsmanship expertise.
"I am extremely grateful for the trust that Hermès provided me with while producing this project. They showed genuine interest in my artistic vision, which ensued in open dialogues with their own needs and requirements. I was supported by the team throughout the process and given complete creative freedom, which is quite rare in this context. I also admire the boldness of the brand to work with artists from different backgrounds. What I particularly liked about this collaboration is the long-term support for the artist. Hermès helped me find a production team and technicians, which allowed me to concentrate on the artistic aspects. I am also delighted that the work will remain in my possession, and will continue to exist as a work of art," concludes Ratté.