On the aesthetic demands of Hermès, the invention of original and extraordinary complications Dressage L’Heure masquée.
ESQUIRE: Tell us about your development at Hermès, and your previous role in the field of watchmaking brand.
PHILIPPE DELHOTAL: I came to Hermès about six years ago. I came from the traditional watchmaking manufactures [Jaeger-LeCoultre and Patek Phillippe], and when I got to Hermès I left the field of strictly watchmaking to a brand that develops 14 different trades. It took me a year to adapt because I came from a different universe. When talking about Hermès, it’s fashion, perfumes and prêt-à-porter. It is very different from what I experienced in traditional watchmaking. But I realised that is an advantage, because in creative terms it is much richer, sharing experiences with colleagues from other departments, because we all have different activities.
ESQ: What comes first at Montre Hermès, technical design or the movements?
PD: Before there was only quartz. Except in the ’50s, when everything was mechanical. Now we’ve also created the part of the mechanism. This is an evolution of Hermès watches to position the product differently.
ESQ: Which watch is more important in terms of positioning, the Temps Suspendu or Arceau Lift?
PD: They are complementary. On one hand, the Temps Suspendu is a piece with complicated mechanisms that translates a certain idea of time. On the other hand, for the Arceau Lift, we wanted to launch a different tourbillon to the ones in the market, more for traditional complications. They are complementary but convey different messages.
ESQ: Will you continue to pursue various complications like Temps de Suspendu or going for the likes of tourbillon, second time zone or something more traditional? PD: We will continue the line of unique and particular mechanical complications, but we also have a range of traditional movements. But if we do make a good piece of minute repeater tomorrow, it should have a philosophy of Hermès. If we make a further complication in the future it must be different from the other watchmakers because competition is very tough.
ESQ: What was the creative process involved for Dressage L’Heure Masquée?
PD: We wanted the Suspendu Temps to be a smooth process, which was not easy because the bar had been set very high. The idea came one day while watching a regulator in which, as you know, the larger hand is the minute hand and the hour hand is smaller. So the starting point was to show more of the minute hand and hide the hour hand. That is why it is called L’Heure Masquée Dressage. It is a selfish clock that marks the time for oneself.
ESQ: In terms of movement, will you continue with a mixture of quartz and mechanical?
PS: We will maintain a high presence of quartz movements. Although the brand gains more value with the important pieces with mechanical movements, we must not forget that we are, first and foremost, a brand aimed at the female market. We are already introducing some mechanical movements for women, but that is only recently.
ESQ: Pocket watches are a wonder of Hermès.
PD: Because of their size, the pocket watches allow us to show the artistic aspect of Hermès, because the craftsmanship best fits the size. I do not see them as watches, but rather as art objects; we will continue creating them because they are beautiful and because Hermès collections have always been pocket watches.