(This article by Roberta Naas first appeared in her Perfect Timing column on Forbes.com.)
Hermès has long been known for its artistic style and its equestrian roots. The brand began as a maker of saddles and equestrian leathers before expanding into other luxury leather goods and accessories. As such, the unveiling of its Galop d’Hermès collection of watches—in stores now— comes as no surprise. It is a deft blend of what the brand does right. To create the all-new line of fine timepieces,Hermès turned to designer Ini Archibong – creator of furniture, lighting and more.
The Galop d’Hermès is the result of Archibong’s observations of equestrian items, such as stirrups, harnesses and bits, as well as his own architectural aerodynamics style and a love of curves. The new watch collection – designed by Archibong for Hermès – features a stirrup-shaped case with open spaces and elegant ergonomics. At the top of the cushion-cornered case the watch strap is integrated into the design, while at the lower end, the lug extends down, allowing enough room for the crown to be strategically placed at 6:00 on the case so as not to disrupt the generous flow.
“The material I work with is light,” says Archibong. “ I have learned to design aerodynamic shapes and futuristic lines that use surfaces in order to explore light effects.”
Thanks to the smooth curves and lines, the cases – created in stainless steel and in 18-karat rose gold – reflect the light beautifully in all directions, and a domed sapphire crystal offers a hint of vintage appeal. The dials are equally as intriguing thanks to a mix of textures, including graining and opaline gloss. The numerals are highly stylized thanks to a new typeface designed by Archibong, with the “8” shaped like an inverted stirrup, also recalling the infinity symbol. Additionally, the numerals are slightly smaller and narrower on the top half of the dial where the watch is thinner in diameter, and they fan out to a larger font on the bottom half—offering great depth and dimension.
Created for both men and women, the Galop d’Hermès is offered in 316L stainless steel or in 18-karat rose gold. There are versions that are set wit h150 diamonds on the case (weighing approximately 0.66 carats) and versions that are devoid of diamonds. The watches are finished with bright Hermes calfskin leather straps in natural or black, or polished alligator in sapphire blue, ember, raspberry, gray or black. Swiss quartz movements power them. The stainless steel versions range in price from $3,650 for a calf strap to $9,000 for the diamond-adorned model with alligator strap. In 18-karat gold, they range from $9,500 to $15,400 for diamonds.