Hermès has revealed new out of this world watches
Hermès is the new kid in the luxury watch world. At least, its 42 years in watchmaking are no time at all compared to Rolex (115 years) or Blancpain (285 years).
As a luxury brand Hermès is known for its joyful, handcrafted items that fall between fashion totems and cult objects – the Birkin handbag, the imaginatively patterned tie – so when it came to watches, it had its own thoughts. “For Hermès, time is also an object,” Philippe Delhotel, creative director at Le Montré Hermès told me a couple of years back. “Rather than dividing and seeking to control it, the maison explores another sort of time: one to stir emotions, to open up interludes for recreation. Watches freed from the bonds of conventions.”
In other words, a sense of playfulness. Playfulness is rather under-represented in the world of haute horologie. Yet it is all over Hermès watch adverts – a man floats past some modernist architecture, another emerges from the shadows on a skateboard. And its all over its watches, too. The Heure H, with its face that’s a square inside a rectangle and its mirrored dial. The Carré H, a circle inside a square, its dial referencing a compass and a pendulum. The Cape Cod Grandes Heueres, its hours marked at irregular intervals, giving the impression time is accelerating or slowing down. These are serious pieces, too: winning multiple prizes at the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève awards.
It says something of the Hermès style that when it established its watch division it hired people not from the world of watchmaking, but outside it. Artistic director Henri d’Origny, who came from ties. And industrial designer Marc Berthier, who designed furniture. Laurent Dordet, CEO of Le Montré Hermes, was no expert horologist: five years ago he was heading up bags.
“When we started we knew we were not here to bring what others brought,” Dordet said. “So let’s work with designers who are not watch designers. People who bring new shapes, new designs into this world.”
For 2020 Hermès has announced new versions of its Arceau L’Heure de la Lune and Slim d’Hermès GMT watches, introduced in 2019 and 2018 respectively. The Arceau L’Heure de la Lune is a moon phase watch unlike any other.
It features a pair of stationary mother-of-pearl moons with a complimentary pair of lacquer dials floating over the top, that rotate around the dial once every 59 days. These cover and uncover the moons, showing the moon phase in both the Southern Hemisphere and the Northern Hemisphere simultaneously. At 12 o’clock there’s a Pegasus, the horse representing the origins of Hermès.
The three striking new versions consist of a 36-piece limited and numbered edition with a white old case and a ‘lunar’ meteorite dial on a Havana alligator strap, another 36-piece limited/ numbered edition with a white gold case on a ‘black sahara’ meteorite dial on a matt black alligator strap, and a two-piece limited edition with a platinum case with a ‘martian’ meteorite dial on a green alligator strap. All are in 43mm cases.
First launched in 2015 the Slim d’Hermès was the watch that has so far given the brand its biggest moment. It has been steadily building on that collection ever since, introducing a travel version – the Slim d’Hermès GMT – three years later. That original model had a slate grey dial, a case made of palladium and a typically quirky font, partly hidden by a smoked glass. The new version for 2020 has a blue dial and a rose gold case, giving the watch an dressier, evening feel. As the name suggests, it’s slim – just 2.6mm thick. It is numbered, but not limited.
Hermès does not release a tonne of watches every year. That’s wouldn’t be very Hermès. Instead it concentrates on one or two elegant designs each time, creating watches that couldn’t be made by anyone else. That, on the other hand, is entirely Hermès.
Arceau L’heure de la Lune, Black Sahara £42,000; Arceau L’heure de la Lune, Lunar; £33,400; Arceau L’heure de la lune, Martian Dial (£POA) are all available now. The Slim d’Hermès GMT (£15,285) in rose gold will be available in September. hermes.com