For a summer outing on horseback, whether at a trot or a gallop, for show-jumping, for strolling around the stables or simply for watching prestigious horse-riding events, equestrian inspiration is the in-thing on today’s wrists. The world of the horse, evoking a certain sense of refinement along with a form of sporty elegance and savoir vivre, has inspired several designs that have become watchmaking icons.
Hermès is an obvious example of this taste for the equestrian world. Well before becoming a watchmaker, Hermès started out as a saddler-harness-maker in 1837. The brand’s very first incursion into the world of watchmaking dates back to 1912. The inspiration was obvious with the use of the first porte-oignon, a leather casing that protected it from shocks while retaining its readability on horseback. Later, in the 1970s, the Arceau watch was launched. This line, which draws its name and design from the hoop-shaped part of a stirrup, has since become an icon that Hermès regularly reinterprets. On the occasion of the year of the horse, a very beautiful series of three Arceau Cheval d’Orient watches highlights the art of French lacquer. Revealing the fine craftsmanship of an experienced lacquer artist, these three 41 mm diameter versions are issued in a 24-piece limited edition. Connoisseurs will easily recognise the graceful elegance and the superb bearing of these horses dressed in Persian saddlecloths, bearing witness to Hermès’ twin penchants for fine artisanship and for the equestrian world.
At Ralph Lauren, equestrian inspiration is also unequivocally present in the Stirrup with its correspondingly shaped case. In its most recent iteration, the collection adopts an ultra-feminine look with the Petite Stirrup, whose dainty 23 by 27 mm dimensions frame a mother-of-pearl dial on the rose gold version, while the Stirrup Petite Diamond Link version features a face sparkling with diamonds.
Longines is another watchmaking company that enjoys strong ties with equestrian sports. From Chantilly to Hong Kong, and from Royal Ascot to Dubai, its name is now associated with the world’s greatest flat races. Inspired by the chronographs produced from 1881 onwards for New York racing fans and jockeys, the Conquest Classic model is a fresh embodiment of true elegance. Timelessness and high performance are the hallmarks of this stainless steel chronograph that is a must-have accessory amid the buzz and excitement of the parade rings at every racecourse.
Aside from the iconic models of watchmaking companies historically linked to the equestrian world, 2014 also offers a veritable treasure trove for all those who appreciate the innate panache of horses. The Chinese year of the horse provides an excuse for every possible interpretation… as well as every possible craft. The Petite Heure Minute Low Relief Horse by Jaquet-Droz comes to mind. A statuesque mustang whose every detail bears witness to the exceptional mastery of skills that have become a rarity leaps from its 43mm grand feu black enamel dial. Another fine example is the Amadeo Fleurier 43 in red gold by Bovet, revealing all the pride and refinement of this noble animal in a miniature painting gracing the white mother-of-pearl dial.