The placid fields of Swiss watchmaking sometimes shudder at the coming of wild herds of fantastic timekeepers. Somewhat uniquely, Hermès is at home both in the stables and in the untamed wilderness. The Cheval Cosmique offers a stunning if somewhat literal interpretation of this – it puts the noble steed front and centre. In terms of watches, this one tells the time in a fuss-free twohanded fashion, but it packs an artistic punch that succeeds at combining brand identity with fine watchmaking. For the flamboyant gentleman, this would make a very striking dress watch, as noted in our segment on that elsewhere this issue.
The Cheval Cosmique is a showcase of artisanal craftsmanship and watchmaking know-how, front and back. While the manufacture automatic movement H1837 powers this 41mm watch, it takes a back seat to the stunning aventurine and white gold dial (there is another 38mm version of the same watch, powered by the automatic calibre H1912 movement). This is certainly a hallmark of traditional watchmaking, but Hermès owns it with its command of equestrian motifs of all types. The beast at the centre of cosmic time here is crafted out of white gold, trotting across waves of white gold on an aventurine sky. At the risk of mixing metaphors, in a short story filled with them, you could see this as a tribute to the Milky Way.
Imagination is everything when it comes to watches like this one. Indeed, we considered it strongly as a Wow Factor watch but demurred in favour of another Hermès timekeeper.
Still, we had to hang on to this piece because it conjures all sorts of visions. Of course, the more savvy amongst you will recognise the work of Gianpaolo Pagni and his composition, Cheval Cosmique. The waves, in particular, are typical of Pagni, while the horse is from the private collection of Émile Hermès. Stalwart followers of the brand will recognise Pagni’s influence from his work in the various other domains that Hermès operates in.
While you can see a lot here, there is much that remains hidden. That includes the white gold base for the dial, upon which the aventurine is applied. It takes a week of painstaking handwork to fashion the 0.5mm gold base, with the Hermès artisan engraving waves, then filling them with black lacquer as appropriate – the space between the waves is where you will find the lacquer. The aventurine bit is added once this is complete, with the engraved horse being added last. It all looks effortless in the finished product, which makes it all the more magical. This is a limited and numbered edition of 24, so they might all be riding off into someone’s collection by the time you read this.