I have a soft spot for the unexpected and unusual, whether this be in terms how time is represented, or how time is interpreted. In 2001 Hermès released the Arceau le Temps Suspendu which ‘suspended’ time, then a few years after that, they decided to ‘mask’ time with Dressage L’Heure Masquée . Each of these watches in its own way allows the wearer to manipulate their relationship to not just the telling of time, but also how they follow it.
As they have done in the past, Hermès have again sought out Agenhor for this movement. The ‘impatient hour’ of the name refers to the module Agenhor created to attach to the Calibre H1912 (itself made by Vaucher Manufacture, of which Hermès owns a quarter) to create what has been referred to as a ‘mechanical hour glass’.
The Slim d’ Hermès L’heure Impatiente allows its wearer to set their watch to chime at any time in the upcoming twelve hour period by using the crown at 4 o’clock to set the countdown, which is depicted on the sub dial. An hour prior to the set time, the retrograde hand on the indicator at 6 o’clock will start its move from the 60 minute position to the 0 position, so you can track the countdown to your selected time.
At the set time a single note chimes.
If, however, you decide that you no longer wish to count down to a particular time, you need only reset it, and the chime can be de-activated via the pusher on the left hand side of the case.
This is Hermès’ first chiming watch, and the Calibre H1912 which powers this whimsy is automatic, beats at 28,800VPH, and has a power reserve of 42 hours. It features a circular-grained and snailed plate, satin-brushed bridges, and a decorated rotor. The Agenhor ‘Impatient Hour’ module is a very slim 1.2mm module comprised of 131 components, with 8 jewels, plate and bridges with Côtes de Genève motif. The Calibre H1912 movement is 3.7mm thick and the 40.5mm rose gold case itself is 10.67mm thick.
A svelte profile was important because of the desire top put this within the ‘Slim’ collection, and this challenge was met by Agenhor via not utilising a second power source or extra barrel to power the chime. The striking mechanism and its accompanying retrograde display are powered by the base movement.
The module is particularly notable for its customised chiming lever/ rack. Hermès and Agenhor have found a way to turn this into something more personal by shaping it as Pegasus, a long-time Hermès symbol. The rack tightens the helical spring in the hour before the striking mechanism chimes, creating the tension needed to power the hammer and activate the count-down hand. A shark cam that rotates every twelve hours releases energy when the rack falls back from the cam, which trips the hammer that strikes the chime.
The dial reflects the Slim collection – a silver opaline base with a sunburst chapter ring and snailed centre and counter, the highly stylised almost Art Deco-like black transferred Arabic numerals, and contrasting gilded sandblasted hands for the time keeping and blue lacquered baton hands for the ‘interruption’ novelty.
I don’t know whether the three year gaps between the Arceau le Temps Suspendu Hermès, the Dressage L’heure Masquée and the Slim d’ Hermès L’heure Impatiente were down to the time taken for the development of each new piece or whether it’s planned, but given that the results of their approach of playing around with how we interact with time, it will be worth the wait until the next one.