The new Pendentif Boule by Hermes combines luxury with a sense of fun

The tactile white gold globe on Hermès' Pendentif Boule, clad in quilted alligator hide and swaying from the end of a chain, is both a pendant and a watch.

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As meticulous as its craftsmanship may be, there is always room for a little fun chez Hermès. And the Pendentif Boule or Ball Pendant watch is a fine example of this French house's ability to combine luxury with a sense of humour.

The highly tactile white gold globe swaying from the end of a long chain is both a pendant and a watch. One side of the 'boule' is clad in quilted alligator hide, reminiscent of the house's prowess in leather-making, while the other face reveals a little mother-of-pearl dial. The watch dial is upside down so that the wearer can tilt the watch upwards and read the time.

The sphere is encircled by a band of perfect white diamonds, set in a random pattern often referred to as a 'snow-setting'. And though no larger than a cherry, the craftsmen at Hermès have made the most of every piece of this watch. There are no less than 420 Top Wesselton diamonds set into the central band and another 63 on the crown, making this a feat of gem-setting prowess. The result reminds me of sun sparkling on freshly fallen snow.

The shape of the watch resembles an early pocket watch from Hermès' first ventures into watchmaking. Under the guidance of Emile Hermès, who took over the directorship of the house in 1878, the inventive Mr Hermès had to rethink his strategy and set his mind to finding new ways of using his leather-workers skills following the demise of horse-drawn carriages and the rise of the automobile. He decided to focus on the needs of the traveller, from luggage to scarves - and timekeepers.

Guillaume de Seynes, sixth-generation family member of the Hermès dynasty, explains this transition: "Because my great-grandfather saw that horse equipment was a less important market for Hermès, he had to invent new products and have them made by the workshops that were specialised in harnesses and saddles. This coming together of craftsmanship with creativity is still an essential part of Hermes."

When not serving as a timekeeper, the beautifully crafted Pendentif Boule is an attractive jewel, making this a dual-purpose luxury item and therefore an ideal gift. Or just the sort of thing you might like to treat yourself to after being particularly good for a whole year.

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