Hermès continues to release beautifully decorated, artisanal dials within its Arceau collection. This newest example, the 38mm white gold Arceau Belles du Mexique watch, celebrates the Mexican Hat Dance with what the watchmaker calls ‘an ode to joy and movement” on the dial.
Dancers are depicted on a dial that echoes an Hermès silk scarf from 2017.
Set within a round, 38 mm-diameter white gold case, hand-painted dancers’ are arranged around the hours and minutes indications. Seven of the dancers spin freely in step with the wearer’s wrist movements.
The circle dance scene is performed around a ring of twenty-three diamonds set around the central hours and minutes hands.
Hermès artisans enhance the imagery starting with multi-layered mini-dials created by successive individual layers of paint. The artisans then apply all fourteen dancers to the base of a painted dial, which is framed with eighty-two diamonds.
Hermès powers each watch with a beautifully decorated Manufacture Hermès automatic H1912 movement.
The Hermès Arceau Belles du Mexique is a limited edition of twelve watches in two color options (orange and pink). Price upon request.
As Creative Director for La Montre Hermès, Philippe Delhotal has been the driving force behind some of the marquee brand’s most creative, time-bending watches.
As we prepare to see what the watchmaking division of this global fashion powerhouse will debut during Watches and Wonders 2023 in late March, in this interview we learn a few details about how Delhotal approaches his design duties at Hermès. Delhotal also discusses his views regarding the differences between traditional men’s and women’s watches.
iW: Hermès is often perceived as a quintessentially feminine brand, though you do make men’s watches. How did that come about?
Philippe Delhotal: Hermès is a feminine brand indeed. When you visit us, you’ll see watches, handbags, scarves, perfume for women. And we have watches for men, too. Until now, about 80% of our production has been in ladies’ watches.
We have been making watches since 1928 and back then already they were already a big part of our portfolio. We would buy great movements from the likes of Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, and many others. And at the time movements were very small, and roundand this allowed us to make watches for women.
What, for you and Hermès, are the important elements that make up a watch conceived for women?
The form watch (a watch other than round) has a stronger character than a round watch. The Cape Cod, for example has a real identity, a personality. But it is difficult to find the right shape. That is the strength of Hermès today. The round Arceau’s character, however, comes from its asymmetrical lugs. This gives it a lot more originality and presence.
Round watches account for eighty percent of the market, so you can see how difficult it is to give them an identity. But you have to remember is that there are not many types of ladies’ watches around. And a woman will dress in a manner that is very different from men. On the other hand, many men’s watches are quite simple, and they are good for the casual chic look.
Finally, there’s a cultural aspect. In some cultures, wearing a man’s watch is much more common. European women tend to wear more masculine watches. In Italy for example, many women wear Panerai or Rolex. If you go to Asia, you’ll see far more feminine watches, with diamonds, and so forth.
You started focusing on men’s watches in 2011. What are the specificities from the standpoint of design and market?
A breakthrough with men’s watches is quite complicated if you haven’t seen there right from the start. It is hard to be considered legitimate and be accepted. And then there is the mechanical connotation: Men don’t choose Hermès for a mechanical watch off the bat, they go to Audemars Piguet, Cartier, or IWC.
From the design standpoint, a man’s watch must be original, surprising and also of very high quality. The first project that made our reputation in the world of male watches is the Temps Suspendu.
It won a prize at the Grand Prix D’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), which gave us a lot of visibility. It was a surprising piece because no watchmaker had even thought of stopping time. They’d rather do the opposite.
What in your experience is the difference between male and female buyers?
A man we’ll simply go for a male watch, a woman will choose according to what she feels at that moment. Women will change clothes, will change handbags, will change shoes, so they will have many more accessories than men depending on their choice of clothing or costume. So they will choose a watch according to the momentary function. A woman will change her watches a lot more often than we will, barring collectors of course.
When Yves Saint-Laurent designed his first costumes for women, it was considered a revolution. Women have so many ways of using accessories in the good sense of the word, compared to men, who have a few suits, some neckties, and maybe cufflinks, that no one wears, and watch, which is the only jewel today, though we do see occasionally rings or those little bracelets. It’s developing.
A big subject of discussion, even controversy, these days is gender fluidity. Is that having an impact on the world of watches?
I am convinced that we are right at the start of jewelry for men. Seeing a woman with a very nice suit today doesn’t shock anyone. but if a man wears a dress, other than in Scotland, things will get complicated.
When Henry D’Origny designed the Cape Cod, he just wanted to make a watch. And it ended up becoming a part of the women’s world, perhaps because it looked like a link in a chain, it had rounded edges, a hint of jewelry. When we made the model for men, it was a little different. But I must add, women were also the buyers of the male Cape Cod.
At any rate, the success of the house is definitely based on its products. We believe we are seducing our clients, female and male, with an object that is well made and our sincerity vis-à-vis the object. we really put our heart in our objects, we spend a lot of time pondering them, we rethink them, we try to do genuine things, we have doubts at times, a lot happens while the object is maturing, and I think people feel that. And at some point, people just appreciate this product. There is no magic formula.
I think there is a genuine transformation on the social landscape that is happening around us, so that today it’s very difficult to say this is a watch for women that is a watch for men. You just must look at catwalks nowadays, the male ones and the female ones are getting closer and closer. This mix is as much from the female towards the male as it is from the male to the female. I find this extremely interesting, and why not?
Hermès celebrates the reopening of its Madison Avenue store in New York with two special edition watches.
One, the H08 Madison, includes a refashioned dial of the acclaimed cushion-shaped Hermès H08. On this special edition Hermès replaces the traditional 12 at the top of the dial with a 0 and also colors the numbers 6, 7 and 0 in yellow to form the address of the new Hermès boutique at 706 Madison Avenue. The same hue is echoed by the crystal seal, the minutes track and the varnished seconds hand. Hermès explains that it chose the yellow color to pay tribute to New York ‘yellow’ cabs.
The Hermès H08, you may recall, was designed in 2021 by Philippe Delhotal, creative director of Hermès Horloger, with a 39mm by 39mm cushion-shaped case, round dial and a contemporary time/date dial display.
For this model, Hermès uses the satin-brushed titanium case edition of the H08, topped by a black ceramic bezel and secured with a screw-lock crown. Inside you’ll find the Manufacture Hermès H1837 mechanical self-winding movement.
Hermès will deliver the new watch, a 185-piece limited edition, on a yellow or grey rubber strap.Price: $7,450.
The second celebratory model is the Gene Kelly, a 38mm rose gold, round-cased Arceau model with an unusual leather marquetry dial decorated with jazz dancers in action, a theme based on the Hermès ‘Tribute to Gene Kelly’ silk scarf designed by Canadian artist Geoff McFetridge.
The rare leather dial is composed using micro-leather leather marquetry. As Hermès explains, its artisans select a dozen colorful full-grain calf leathers that are then trimmed to a thickness of 0.5 mm.
The artisans then cut out the design elements and remove the leather fragments and assemble the scene on the dial. The design references Gene Kelly, a Hollywood musical legend, using bright colors, nine letters of his name, and dancers in moccasins and white socks.
Finally, Hermès sets eighty-two diamonds into the bezel and powers the hands with the automatic Manufacture Hermès H1912 movement.
Only twelve watches will be made, each fitted with a white Hermès calfskin strap. Price: $35,000.
We’ve seen open-worked designs among Hermès watch collections in the past, most notably with the recent, very sexy smoked-dial Arceau Squelette. But until this month, this famed luxury house hadn’t offered a skeletonized version of either its superb in-house movements, namely Caliber H1837 or Caliber H1950, each made with its partner Vaucher.
That omission changes with the recent announcement of the Slim d’Hermès Squelette Lune, Hermès’ first skeleton timepiece with a manufacture movement. Hermès has created Caliber H1953 from its thin H1950, the movement underneath the highly successful Slim d’Hermès collection first debuted in 2015.
Hermès cleverly mixes its metals with this release, combining a bead-blasted 39.5mm titanium case with a platinum bezel and a white gold crown. The mixture allows light to dance across the airy dial and bezel, aided by alternating matte and glossy finishes.
Equally interesting is the double moonphase display at the 6 o’clock position. As the sunray-patterned linked orbs rotate, they expose two moon images, marking the satellite’s position in both hemispheres. Very cool, and superbly executed. Price: $20,550.
Hermès adds ultra-light graphene to one version of its all-new H08, a cushion-shaped debut that could become a flagship model of the brand’s contemporary watch collection.
The 39mm H08 will debut with two titanium-cased models and one created using a novel graphene-filled composite case, topped by a brushed and polished ceramic bezel.
This darker graphene version also offers a black gold-coated dial, distinctive Arabic numerals and black nickel-coated hands. The two other H08 debuts are titanium-cased, with one in matte black DLC-coated titanium and the second in satin-brushed titanium. These arrive with a black nickel-coated dial and can be matched with a blue or black fabric strap or a black or orange rubber strap.
As is typical from with Hermès watches, the dial font and the case’s pleasing geometric lines complement each other perfectly.
In fact, with H08 Hermès utilizes a dial font that specifically mimics the cushion shape of the case. Note how the namesake 8 and the 0, are especially evocative, with perfectly proportioned shapes that could also be called cushion-shaped.
The H can be seen in the link shape of the new titanium bracelet used on the brushed titanium model, as well as on the visible movement bridges and rotor.
Inside each watch Hermès places its own H1837 automatic movement, visible through the sapphire caseback.
Prices: $5,500 (titanium on rubber strap or webbed fabric); $5,700 (titanium with DLC coating on rubber strap or webbed fabric); $6,050 (titanium on titanium bracelet) and $8,900 (graphene on rubber strap).