Le Temps suspendu is about making time one’s own, as Philippe Delhotal, Director of Creation and Development at La Montre Hermès, explained at Baselworld. “Hermès wishes to conquer a particular aspect of time and time measurement that brings our craftsmanship to the fore. We began with the Cape Cod Grandes Heures whose hours speed by or pass at a leisurely pace depending where on the dial you are, from tempo accelerando for working hours to tempo adagio for precious time devoted to the pleasures of life. This variable speed movement, developed with Dubois Dépraz, begged a logical sequel which we are now proposing with Le Temps suspendu.”
For this new watch, Hermès enlisted Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, founder of Agenor and a renowned specialist in retrograde displays. “I first met Hermès more than three years ago,” he says. “The original idea was to literally suspend time. The result is a movement which, at the push of a button, takes us out of time. The hour and minute hands sit motionless around 12 o’clock, while the hand on the date display at 5 o’clock vanishes from sight. Press the pusher again and time and date are restored, no matter how long they were suspended.”
An irresistible complication
The three retrograde hands, which thus alternate between actual time and suspended time, are operated by an additional module which is based on two synchronised column wheels: one for the hours and one for the minutes and date. “When time is suspended, a column wheel lifts a sector of the watch,” explains Jean-Marc Wiederrecht. “While this is a relatively complex system comprising 140 parts, what matters isn’t the technology but the philosophy behind a watch that of course gives time but also allows you to play with time.”
Hermès gave the final polish to this timepiece by adjusting the proportions of its Arceau case and creating a new calligraphy for the hour numerals in pure Hermès style. Horological complications are not a hallmark of the Paris firm, hence Le Temps suspendu comes without instructions: after all, the desire to suspend time is an instinct we all share.