A Whimsical Hermès Watch Takes Flight

Long before aviation was possible, artists and inventors dreamed of taking flight. Kites made of bamboo, paper and cloth are said to have appeared in China more than 2,000 years ago, and Leonardo da Vinci sketched the ornithopter, a bat-shaped machine powered by foot pedals and hand levers, four centuries before the airplane. In 1783, when the brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier launched the world’s first passenger-ready hot-air balloon, they sent a sheep, a duck and a rooster on its maiden voyage. It was these and other imaginative modes of aerial transportation that inspired the French artist Loïc Dubigeon to create a silk scarf for Hermès in 1984 titled Les Folies du Ciel, which included depictions of colorful airships, spherical orbs and sails billowing in the wind.

One of Hermès’s latest timepieces, the Arceau Les Folies du Ciel takes its own inspiration from Dubigeon’s print; the luxury house’s now-iconic 1978 Arceau watch model, designed by Henri d’Origny; and those pioneering aeronauts. A pair of manually engraved neoralite resin hot-air balloons in shades of pink and green float against a mother-of-pearl dial, and underneath them hangs a pastel hand-painted gondola in the form of a giant dove and made of white gold. Hovering above the aircraft is another balloon, this one orange-and-blue striped, which gently oscillates when the hands reach 12 o’clock. Only 24 editions of the watch, which comes with a white alligator strap, are being produced. Time flies, indeed.

Photo assistant: Maria Trajtenberg

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