Playfulness and fun are not always attributes you associate with the world of luxury fashion. But they are at Hermès – the high-end French brand known for its joyful, handmade objects that fall somewhere between fashion totems and cult objects.
The same goes for its watches. A relative newcomer to the world of haute horlogerie, it wasted little time in launching design-led watches that could not have been made by anyone else. There is 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. And 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 – the watch world’s Oscars.
Its latest timepiece, the Hermès H08 was originally scheduled to be announced this time last year. But then, oh you know.
Anyway, here it is for 2021 and it's about as Hermès an Hermès watch as Hermès has ever made. The H08 is being aligned with the fashion house’s menswear and the elegant, sporty, gown-up clothes that creative director Véronique Nichanian has been responsible for, for the last 30 years.
The H08 is being launched in three versions. All measure 39mm x 39mm and stand out immediately for their unusual cushion-shaped case, and distinctive font. The numerical name is reflected in the shapes on the case, with Hermès noting that the numeral ‘0’ “embodies emptiness” while “the horizontal figure 8 symbolises infinity”. Bien sûr!
One version features a graphene-filled composite case and a satin-brushed polished ceramic bezel. Its black, gold-coated dial has a minutes track, luminescent Arabic numerals and black hands displaying the hours, minutes, central seconds and date at 4.30. It comes on a black rubber strap.
Two other variants – the first in matt black DLC-coated titanium and the second in satin-brushed titanium – again with a black dial, are teamed with a blue or black webbing band, or a black or orange rubber strap. The webbing strap has been specially developed for the H08 and also looks like a sporty piece of Hermès menswear. (You’ve got the watch, now get the reversible rib-trim nylon jacket.)
“We wanted to have a new language within a sport-lifestyle environment,” Philippe Delhotel, artistic director at Le Montré Hermès, tells Esquire. “A watch that was contemporary and which embodies the universe of Hermès, but for the urban traveller. What is really distinctive in this watch is the shape and the line – it uses our geometry and vocabulary. The numbers on the dial have been inspired by the shape of the case – the ‘0’ and the ‘8’.”
“We were lacking a sports collection,” says Laurent Dordet, CEO of Le Montré Hermès. “But when we say sport we are not saying we’re making a watch to climb Everest or go scuba diving, very deep. But we wanted to include in our collection and all day-long, all week-long collection – something masculine and essential. But we don’t target only one type of man.”
“Our ambition is always to seduce watch lovers.”
From £4,440 to £7,260; hermes.com
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