Hermès Arceau Marqueterie de Paille

Marquetry with Straw…

Hermès honours the ancient art of straw marquetry, a form of expertise that has become extremely rare, with these two beautifully dialed watches.  Marquetry (also spelled as marqueterie) is the art and craft of applying pieces of veneer to a structure to form decorative patterns, designs or pictures.  Presented for the first time on a watch dial, the Hermès Arceau Marqueterie de Paille (literally, “marquetry of straw”) watches reflect a highly complex miniaturisation of the marquetry technique.   The blue and black motifs depict two iconic Hermès tie patterns featuring chevrons and tiny squares.  The rye straw used in these models is produced by only one farm in France — read more about the process below.  These two collector’s models are presented together in a precious Makassar ebony presentation box, itself adorned with straw marquetry.  Magnificent!!!!

Hermès Arceau Marqueterie de Paille

41mm white gold case, automatic mechanical movement exclusively for Hermes by Manufacture Vaucher, matt indigo blue alligator strap

These two watches feature the Hermès Arceau model’s signature asymmetrical lugs, however the the distinctive italic typeface of the Arceau hour-markers has vanished so as to give pride of place to the exceptional straw marquetry graving the dial.

Mass-coloured on the spot and then laid out flat to dry, the straw which is subjected to weather conditions, variations in humidity and various baths, never displays the exact same shades of colours. Its natural colours subtly illuminate the marquetry motifs. Split open with a thin blade and then manually flattened with a bone tool, the wisps are then cut up into various lengths. This calls for accurate gestures and considerable physical strength. Playing with the colours and the directions of the various wisps, the artisan assembles his motifs on a sheet of graph paper. Glued in much the same way as a leather book binding, the straw marquetry motif is then assembled on the watch dial.