Over at Hermes, they’ve focused on luxury watchmaking in earnest only for the past 13 years. Yet, the achievements of the 176-year-old company in this arena have been meteoric.
Despite its youth, La Montre Hermes (the company’s watch division) has chalked up impressive milestones, the latest of which is last year’s launch of its first in-house automatic movements – the H1837 and H1912. This year, the H1837 movement is modified into the H1925 automatic chronograph movement, which drives the new Dressage Chronograph collection.
For the uninitiated, the ability of a watch brand to produce in-house timepieces is regarded as a horological apex. It is an ambition of many watch companies, as it ensures creative control and production autonomy.
“We are renowned as the world’s best silk and leather manufacturer, and we have that same ambition with our watch production,” says Luc Perramond, CEO of La Montre Hermes.
The company’s investments in manufacturing facilities were key to its development surge. In 2006, Hermes acquired a 25 per cent stake in Vaucher Manufacture, a movement-making company, for 25 million Swiss francs. Last year, it added case- and dial-making factories to the set-up.
Besides being a newly minted member of a select band of watch companies with in-house movements, La Montre Hermes is also gaining a reputation as a marque with poetic spirit.
A recent example is the Time Suspended complication from 2011, which allows one to literally “suspend” time. By pressing a button on the left side of the case, the hands snap to a static 12 o’clock position. Despite looking like it is not working, the mechanical movement continues to keep track of the time. To switch back to the normal display, press the same button, and the hands will return to the current time and date. The timepiece won the Best Men’s Watch award at the 2011 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve; this year, it is available in a 38mm ladies’ version.
“Instead of developing highly technical watches just for complexity’s sake, we want to share our philosophy of time and interpret it in a beautiful way,” says Perramond.
It’s an ethos that has paid off, as La Montre Hermes has reported double-digit growth in most markets. “Beyond sales figures, we are simply happy that Hermes’ position and standing in the luxury watch industry has risen significantly,” he adds.
Hermes’ Fall/ Winter 2013 show
The Dressage Chronograph is powered by an evolved version of Hermes’ H1837 in-house movement launched
In The Pocket wristwatch
Luc Perramond, CEO of La Montre Hermes