At Hermès, time is an object in its own right with which the house likes to play, albeit respectfully. It invents watches that are not content to merely keep time, but reveal its uniqueness instead.
It would seem that Hermès has a special relationship with time. Rather than a master, time has found an interpreter who is part poet, part illusionist, part philosopher and part dreamer. Hermès is dedicated to precision, of course, but in its own unique way. Giving objects a special twist is part of the brand’s identity.
When the house decided to suspend time in 2011, it found a watch designer equal to the task. As such, Agenhor designed the movement that powers the Arceau Le temps suspendu model. For it is common knowledge at Hermès that some hours are more precious than others. If, for example, you decide to spend time with your loved ones, you must embrace living in the moment, because the present instant is all that matters. And to keep pace with the here and now, the hands of the watch are gracious enough to stand still. They will have ample time to resume their frantic race later on.
For Hermès, time is emotion. Not only that which is generated by the beauty of a movement or a complication. No, this is the emotion spawned by time itself, which takes on an entirely different character when you are looking forward to a happy event. A romantic tryst, the five floors that you climb in the absence of a lift, clutching a bunch of peonies in your hand. Your heart pounds furiously, just like the balance of the watch. Hermès knows the value of this kind of time, and measures how precious and unique it is. It has crafted the Slim d’Hermès L’heure impatiente precisely to mark the rhythm of this time dedicated to emotion. An hour before the anticipated event, a mechanical hourglass starts up and emits a mellow note at just the right time.
For Hermès, time is also an expression of beauty and know-how. This distinctive aesthetic makes it possible to swiftly identify the object without even needing to read the signature. Some dials are undeniably Hermès, like the one featuring a miniature painting that plays with perspectives to depict an almost threatening animal. Almost, for it is so tightly framed that half of its jaw is missing. And you can’t tell if it is growling, Grrrrr (which is, in fact, the name of the Slim d’Hermès Grrrr!), if it is annoyed to be placed off-centre, or if it simply wants to step off the dial and go for a stroll…
Hermès leaves the detail of inventing superb grand complications to the historic watch manufactures, whose time moves at a different pace to theirs. The house is an expert in the art of these curious devices that give you the illusion of mastering your own time. Bespoke time, that passes if you want it to, when you want it to.
Two moons, like peas in a pod…
Hermès is never predictable. So when it creates a moon phase watch in collaboration with Chronode, it does so by turning convention on its head and giving the star role to the moon which, unexpectedly, remains motionless. Actually, it would be more accurate to speak of moons, because the one in the northern hemisphere at 6 o’clock coexists with the one in the southern hemisphere.
While the moons take a rest, two counters indicating the date and time do all the work, rotating every 59th day around the dial crafted from aventurine or meteorite. They are the ones playing hide-and-seek with the two mother-of-pearl moons, which they reveal or conceal. ”The face of the watch changes every day,” explains Philippe Delhotal, Creation and Development Director at Hermès Horloger. “It is visually fun with counters revolving around topsy-turvy moons, for at Hermès, the best way to dream is with your head in the clouds.”
Draw me a gallop…
When Hermès decided to create a new watch for women, it called upon furniture and lighting designer Ini Archibong. This American-Nigerian artist tells stories through illuminated objects, through lamps that reveal the invisible. This graduate of the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL) had never designed watches before. But little matter. He was entrusted with the task of designing the Galop d’Hermès, inspired by objects from the Hermès Conservatoire des Créations. “I surrounded myself with objects from the Hermès world of fashion. I looked for connections between belt buckles, buttons, harnesses… that’s what I focused on,” he explained in January. This led him to design a watch inspired by a historic collection of stirrups seen through the prism of his own vision. Its rounded case with flowing lines, unobstructed dial and clear typography give it a streamlined style that transcends the functionality and simplicity of Hermès objects. It is a women’s model that men will certainly want to borrow.