It is contemporary, sporty and it embodies the spirit of the modern man, or as Laurent Dordet, CEO of Hermès Horloger, explains the Hermès H08 is a functional timepiece that makes the perfect everyday companion.

 

The watch industry’s big- gest annual event Watch- es & Wonders 2021 goes digital again this year. From April 7 to 13, journalists, clients and retailers watched as many as 38 brands on display on digital platforms.

Hermès Horloger not only had a digital presence but a physical one in Singapore at the School Of The Arts (Sota) with a dance performance that featured three male dancers, dressed in Hermès latest collection for men, giving us their well-choreographed interpretation of the newly launched timepiece Hermès H08.

After the morning programme, the timepieces were brought out for the media to have a much closer look. The tie-in of the dance performance with the contemporary yet timeless new Hermès H08 watch becomes clear.

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The sporty timepieces are part aesthetics and part movement as the Hermès H08 gets its heartbeat from the mechanical self-winding Manufacture Her- mès H1837 movement, the new Hermès H08 line offers three large cushion-shaped models with a screw-down crown.

Hermès H08 is not new to a small group of media who in November 2019, had a very rare opportunity to be taken on a journey of how Hermès timepieces are made. We start- ed at the very beginning; from the ideas right to the inspiration stage, at the Emile Hermès Museum located at the top of the Hermès flagship store on Faubourg Saint-Honore in Paris.

It was here that we met cre- ative director Hermès Horloger Philippe Delhotal who present- ed the Hermès H08 collection. We had earlier signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and was to keep what we saw strictly confidential until its release in 2020’s instalment of Watches & Wonders.

But that did not happen because of Covid-19. “We wanted to launch this new collection in a positive market situation and during Watches & Wonders Geneva in 2020. Thus, Hermès H08 has been postponed to April 2021,” Hermès Horloger CEO Laurent Dordet tells Options in an email interview just before the launch of the collection this year.

Just weeks ago, Dordet followed up with Options after the live presentations which he did recently over a virtual chat. Fresh from his daily presentations which were beamed live globally, he admits to days of an early start and late finish for the duration of the fair.

But here he was, giving us his precious time. If he was exhausted, he did not show it and was very enthusiastic about the collections that were launched. Dressed in a Hermès grey sweater from the men’s collection, Dordet says that while it is tiring to do these live chats everyday he is buoyed by the reception he has received. “We are super enthusiastic about the feedback we received. Of course, it takes a lot of energy to speak every day. I think people are happy to have us talk directly to them”.

That he did at the Bâtiment des Forces Motrices (BFM) in Geneva to provide a live experience for journalists to follow. BFM is a 19th-century industrial space that artists Clément Vieille and Pierre Pauze were appointed to create a scenography composed of videos and sculptures, works inspired by the Hermès approach to time and the new collection. Here are excerpts of our chat with Dordet.

What is the design philosophy behind the Hermès H08?
We wanted to create a contemporary watch, strongly anchored in the Hermès all-terrain, masculine universe. It was a desire to express our values, to embody them. This timepiece embodies “the Hermès take on contemporary masculinity”. It had to be a beautiful object in which the materials, shapes and lines would give life to a unique expression of Hermès watchmaking.

We wanted a robust, geometric, assertive and sensual object. There was also a quest for lightness through the materials and a strong desire to integrate the strap into the creation. We needed a timeless timepiece with elegance, free and audacious, neither conservative nor status-affirming. It had to be an expression of contemporary classicism.

Which piece stands out for you and why?
It is available in three versions: The first all-titanium, the second with a colour DLC titanium case, bezel in natural titanium and band strap (black, anthracite and blue) as well as a rubber strap (black and orange). The third version is in ultra-light composite filled with graphene powder with a black ceramic bezel and black rubber strap.

The campaign and the activation tools highlighted the “sharp but sensual” side of the graphene model, with its characteristic play on shapes and combination of materials.

The “all-terrain” spirit of this model lent itself perfectly to these materials which add lightness, bring fascinating colour effects and complete the overall aesthetic appeal. The mineral side of the model gives it a rigorous yet pleasing appearance.

Why the name H08?

These are two numbers that encapsulate the entire personality of the watch. It’s a somewhat mysterious name that gives an impression of motion, as well as of being in step with the times.

These are also two numbers symbolising the font used in this model and which embody an invitation to adopt mathematical thinking as well as evoking contrasts, such as the contrast of materials. It is a nod to “Hermès geometry”. The rigorous 0 was a recent discovery. The 8 stretches to infinity. The idea relates to “nothing mingled with everything” which reflects the shape of the case.

You have witnessed the rise of Hermes’ entry into the timepieces market. How has the journey been? Can you share some memorable highlights?

In recent years, we have seen growing interest from Hermès customers and watch collectors, thanks to launches featuring singular designs and unconventional interpretations of traditional watchmaking.

In 2015 for example, the Slim d’Hermès was born from a stylistic exercise around the purity of design and expressing a move towards essentials with a minimalist style. In 2018, the Carré H was a square-shaped watch designed by Marc Berthier featuring a contemporary aesthetic with Arceau, which suspended time in 2011 and began playing with moon phases in 2019. Quite simply, with the privilege of its sobriety and elegance, has since 1978 been expressing the audacity of its designer Henri d’Origny.

This singular interpretation, which runs counter to industry trends, is expressed today through the new Hermès H08, which, through its form, expresses our relationship with time.

With Watches & Wonders going fully digital this year, what are some of the challenges you will be facing with retailers and the media?

Like last year, we will get in touch with all the journalists and retailers with the WWG digital platform. It is very important for us to maintain relationships with the press, influencers, clients and retailers.

This year, we have decided to reinforce our presence physically as well: We will settle the artist scenography that was supposed to be installed at the Palexpo elsewhere in Geneva: we will be for a week at the Bâtiment des Forces Motrices to provide a live experience for the journalists to follow us as we would be together.

We feel confident for 2022 that WWG will come back with a physical edition. It is important to maintain this moment during which the whole industry speaks with one voice to meet the press, influencers, clients and retailers. Virtual happenings are for the time being a solution but won’t replace meetings in person.

What are the next 12 months looking for Hermès Horloger?

On one side the business is in a strong growth trend and we will have to respond to this demand and at the same time, prepare our future launches. On the other side, we are cautious because the world and the sanitary situation are quite unstable in many countries. 

For the sporty gentlemen

The enigmatic name of the Hermès H08 watch hints at graphics, mathematics and metaphysics. The distinctively original font of the numerals chimes with the object, including a 0 and an 8 whose forms evoke that of the case. The 0 numeral embodies emptiness, while the horizontal figure 8 symbolises infinity. Like a journey between nothing and everything. As if echoing the mystery and depth of time.

The Hermès H08 collection features a graphene-filled composite case, topped by a satin-brushed and polished ceramic bezel. Its black gold-coated dial is punctuated by a minutes track, luminescent Arabic numerals, and black nickel-coated hands displaying the hours, minutes, central seconds, and date at half-past four. It is paired with a black rubber strap secured by a titanium butterfly clasp.

Two other variants are also available: in matt black DLC-coated titanium and in satin-brushed titanium – frame a black nickel-coated dial and are teamed with a blue or black webbing band, or a black or orange rubber strap.

Dial

Black gold-coated

Black nickel-coated applied Arabic numerals enhanced with Super-LumiNova® and circular satin-brushed minutes disc

Grey transferred minutes track

Finely grained centre

Black nickel-coated hands

Case

39 × 39 mm, cushion-shaped

Robust and ultra-light graphene-filled composite case Sunburst satin-brushed ceramic bezel

with mirror-polished chamfers

Screw-down ceramic crown

Antiglare sapphire crystal and black-tinted sapphire case-back

Water-resistant to 10 bar

Movement

Hermès Manufacture H1837 movement Mechanical self-winding

Swiss made

Functions

Hours, minutes, seconds, date at half past four

Strap

Black rubber

Butterfly clasp in titanium, 20 mm

Dial

Black nickel-coated

Black nickel-coated Arabic numerals enhanced with Super-LumiNova®

Black gold-coated circular satin-brushed minutes disc Transferred white minutes track

Finely grained centre

Black nickel-coated hands

Case

39 × 39 mm, cushion-shaped

Satin-brushed titanium case with matt black DLC coating

Sunburst satin-brushed titanium bezel

with mirror-polished chamfers

Screw-down crown

Antiglare sapphire crystal and case-back Water-resistant to 10 bar

Movement

Hermès Manufacture H1837 movement Mechanical self-winding

Swiss made

Functions

Hours, minutes, seconds, date at half past four

Strap

Black or orange rubber

Black and anthracite or blue webbing Butterfly clasp in titanium, 20 mm

Dial

Black nickel-coated

Rhodium-plated applied Arabic numerals enhanced with Super-LumiNova®

Black gold-coated circular satin-brushed minutes disc Transferred white minutes track

Finely grained centre

Rhodium-plated hands

Case

39 × 39 mm, cushion-shaped Satin-brushed titanium case

Sunburst satin-brushed titanium bezel with mirror-polished chamfers Screw-down crown

Antiglare sapphire crystal and case-back Water-resistant to 10 bar

Movement

Hermès Manufacture H1837 movement Mechanical self-winding

Swiss made

Functions

Hours, minutes, seconds, date at half past four

Strap

Titanium

Black or orange rubber