Not only did French brand Hermès choose to unveil its newest pillar collection for men, H08, at Watches & Wonders Geneva, but also, the brand made it a point to have the watches in its retail boutiques as of today, as well. This way, interested customers don’t have to wait months to get one of these truly innovative new watches on their wrists. The new H08 collection was three years in the making and the result is a surprisingly simple yet robust timepiece.
“We wanted to enhance the Hermes men’s universe with a Sporty watch that is in our own unique style,” said Laurent Dordet, CEO of Hermès, in a private interview. “We consider time not as an abstract constraint to measure, but as a friend. And as a friend, you like to play. So, when we want a new line, we work with typography, shapes, volumes and materials, and try to take pleasure in the invention.”
At first glance, the H08 is, indeed, a simple timepiece that seems to be at home in an urban chic environment, but there are a lot of nuances behind the new collection that underscore the brand’s meticulous attention to detail and top-notch craftsmanship.
“We wanted function and looks and the function is sport,” says Dordet, “but not extreme performance, this is not for diving, but it is for men to wear when practicing light sports. From day one, we created this watch from scratch without any reference to the past. We wanted something new and clear and different.”
The 39 x 39mm case is a softened-edge square (cushion- or tv-shaped) with a circular dial within – playing off of the concepts of geometry and angles as well as curves. After all, according to Dordet, the directive when it came to imagining the new collection was to offer robustness but elegance, serious but also sensual.
The design of the H08 is the result of a collaboration between the brand’s creative director, Véronique Nichanian, artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas, and Philippe Delhotal the brand’s artistic director of Hermès Horloger. The movement that powers the watch is an existing caliber, so the three years of research and development came in the design modes for the case and dial and the research mode for use of a nano fiber, graphene.
In fact, this marks the first time Hermès works with graphene to develop a composite for the case. It is a nano-deposit of carbon fiber composite developed with specialists. It renders the watch incredibly light in weight yet very strong and robust.
In typical Hermès style, the design of the case shape, the typography for the dial and other fine details were the focal point of the watches. Most are a play on monotones, a study in gray and black, but with a flash of color coming from bright orange or blue accents.
To create the many details of the watch, including the distinct motif on the rotor, Hermès turned to the accents that Nichanian has been sculpting in the men’s universe of the house of the past 30 years. For her, it is all about perfect cuts, sensual materials and impeccable standards. The new pillar collection follows suit with its geometric emphasis, and its distinctive appeal.
The font for the typography on the dial is all new. This is a typical Hermès feature. When the brand unveiled the now-beloved Slim De Hermès several years ago, the font was equally as important. For the new watch, the typography takes its inspiration directly from the shape of the watch itself. This means that the rounded numerals, particularly the 8 and the 10, best evoke the case form. Hence the name of the line, H08.
The dials boast a minutes track, luminescent Arabic numerals and dark nickel-coated hands. The watch displays the hours, minutes, seconds and the date between 4:00 and 5:00. As mentioned, the watch uses an existing movement, the mechanical self-winding Manufacture Hermès H1837 movement made by Vaucher movement company (which is partially owned by Hermes).
Hermès H08 Watches
For the launch three large cushion-shaped models – each with a screw-down crown- are being offered. The most unique is the one whose case is made of a graphene-filled composite. The watch is topped by a satin-brushed and polished ceramic bezel. The other versions are a matt black DLC-coated titanium and a satin-brushed titanium with a black nickel-coated dial. They are offered with a blue or black woven textured strap or with a black or orange rubber strap. All of the crystals are anti-reflective and the case back is tinted black for a hint of mystery. The watches range in price from $5,500 to $5,700 for the titanium versions and $8,900 for the graphene model.
(This article by Roberta Naas first appeared on her column on Forbes.)