“Hermès is a maison of knowhow; it’s a family passionate about know-how”
So in 1978, [late artistic director] Jean-Louis Dumas decided to do what they did with silk, which was to venture into the watchmaking business by establishing a manufacture where the know-how is, Switzerland. And the ambition was very clear from the beginning: We would do simple watches first, meaning quartz movements and stainless steel cases, but of the highest quality. We want the best sapphire crystals, stainless steel and finishing, and we work with the best supplier.
Then again, the main objective is to bring something new, different from what is there in the industry. So, we brought in a style that’s not typical of a watchmaker’s style, but of Hermès’ style. Instead of working together with watch designers, we decided to work with Hermès’ own designers. We came up with very classic but at the same time revolutionary designs, such as the Arceau, Cape Cod and H Hour. The success was great.
What makes us also different is the philosophy of time. For this maison, time has never been a constraint, not something you want to control in a serious manner. Time has, instead, always been our first ingredient to manufacture objects, whatever the object is. Time is a friendly notion for us, and we always like to play with it. In the creation process, if we don’t play, if we’re not having fun with our objects, we wouldn’t be proud to showcase the products to the customers. We often like to say: We do things seriously in terms of know-how, but certainly we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
Now, ten years ago, the company decided to take a step ahead with our know-how by integrating the Vaucher movement manufacturer. The question was then: What complications are we going to develop? Again, we’re here to twist it up, to offer Hermès’ own complications, such as Le Temps Suspendu (in the Arceau), L’Heure Masquée (in Dressage) and now L’Heure Impatiente (in Slim d’Hermès). Even through we’re very sure in achieving the know-how in this business, we have the ambition to offer fantasy and playfulness in our watches. DA: Does Hermès apply for or have patents for those “poetic movements”? LD: If somebody wants to copy them, let them be. The same story told by another brand means nothing. DA: What about the focus on sports watches? The Clipper collection? LD: Ah, that’s the discussion that we have internally. Yes, we probably need a sports watch. Keep an eye out on this. DA: So, the focus for men’s watches in the coming years is still on the Slim d’Hermes? LD: Our major lines for men would be the Slim d’Hermès and the Arceau. We are actually thinking of a new line…