La Montre Hermès: Where Craft Meets Art
October 16, 2013
With a century of watchmaking heritage, Hermès is forging a timeless path into the future for its inimitable watches. The one thing you can expect from Hermès watches is the unexpected. The distinctiveness of their creations is such that only the most discerning watch enthusiasts and collectors covet their aesthetically stunning and technically awe-inspiring timepieces. Luc Perramond, CEO of La Montre Hermès, the watchmaking division of the famed French fashion house, gives Today’s Outlook an inside look into what it is exactly that makes Hermès watches so exquisite!
“Our inspiration for creating watches comes from the values of Hermès; understated elegance, refinement, and non-conventional ideas,” said Perramond. These pillars of the Hermès brand have indeed created the recipe for perfection in beauty, functionality and technical appeal for those who understand and appreciate the art of making the finest watches and complications in the world.
Perramond’s journey into the field of prestigious watchmaking is an interesting one as he appears to have been destined for this line of business. “I studied in the United States and I went into consulting while I was completing my MBA. It was a great experience but life has many surprises,” mused Perramond. “One of my clients at the time was in the watch industry and that’s where my path started and lead me to Hermès. The rest, as they say, is history.”
For Hermès, the passion for watchmaking started in 1912; but it wasn’t until 1978 that the Hermès watch factory was built in Switzerland. “Since then, the positioning evolved quite a lot. In the 80s and 90s we were mostly creating ladies watches, driven more by design with a quartz movement, so it was more a fashion segment of the business at the time. However, in the past 15 years we have evolved quite a bit and have become a much more serious watchmaker,” explained Perramond.
Hermès watches have developed their capabilities in the manufacturing of movements, dials, cases and other watch components, working hard to become a very integrated company. The Hermès watch collections have evolved to become stronger on the men’s segment, where now the men’s collections outnumber ladies watches and have mechanical movements and complications. In addition to that, Hermès watches tip the scales towards even more finery and luxury with the incorporation of jewels, diamonds and gold in different colors to create precious and sophisticated timepieces.
“One of our really amazing timepieces is the Arceau Le temps suspendu, a timepiece that allows you to play with time. It gives you the chance to dream. With it you can suspend time and escape its constraints if only for a short while,” said Perramond.
With its unique, poetic and whimsical concept, the Arceau Le temps suspendu features a pushbutton that when pressed will bring the hour and minute hands to a halt at about 12 o’clock. Time has thus stopped on the watch dial and you are allowed an interlude where you can spend precious moments, whether alone or with loved ones, without the pressure of your watch constantly reminding you of the relentless march of time. Another press on the pushbutton sets time running again as if nothing had happened.
“We definitely like to stray from the conventional and create timepieces that are out of the ordinary and that are very different from the traditional timepieces you can find in the market. Our clients always look for exceptional timepieces and this has set the pace for us, whereby every year we create collections that are up to these standards, expectations and demand,” explained Perramond.
Hermès watches are indeed amazing timepieces that are conceived with originality and passion. The brand does not only offer you the promise of a unique and unusual product, but one that is of the highest quality possible, crafted by only the most skilled hands. “Our clients enjoy exceptional, exclusive products that carry a lot of creativity and a high standard of craftsmanship with an artistic dimension – this is becoming more and more important to us especially with collectors in the Middle East and Asia who are eager to acquire timepieces of this kind,” said Perramond.
Hermès has several flagship stores in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Kuwait and Doha, as the brand works to establish a far-reaching presence in the GCC. “The next step for us would be to establish a presence in Saudi Arabia, which is an important market,” said Perramond. “What we need to communicate more and more is that Hermès is an exceptional watchmaker in addition to the other products that we are famous for like luggage, handbags and silk.”
Creating an Hermès watch is a lengthy process that can take up to two years to complete. It starts with the artistic director who decides on the new collection. Once the style is chosen and the target market is selected, product positioning comes into play then in-house production begins. “It’s a rich dialogue between the creative department and the technical team, it goes back and forth until we have the right product,” said Perramond. For those seeking to stand out, La Montre Hermès offers a tailor-made service that makes bespoke, custom pieces, allowing clients to choose the watch components and create the watch of their dreams – a process that is quite lengthy but is definitely worth the wait!
One of the finest collections from Hermès is the Dressage, which was born in 2003. Evolving over a decade, by 2012, all the timepieces in this collection were beating to the rhythm of exclusive Manufacture movements – a testament to the brand’s enduring passion for fine mechanisms. Another stunning timepiece from Hermès is the iconic Arceau model designed by Henri d’Origny that comes with an horological complication that displays the moon-phases. Interpreted in a more feminine version, the Arceau Petite Lune reveals a round steel case featuring asymmetrical lugs evoking the shape and curve of a stirrup – a motif that has become a signature of the Maison Hermès. “We want our clients to dream, to play with time… We want to remind them to not be so serious all the time by bringing some fantasy into the world of watches. This is what makes Hermès watches singular and inimitable,” affirmed Perramond.
From the finest bags, jewelry and silk to their dazzling collections of fine timepieces, Hermès now aims to continue to develop watches that make you dream, that bring poetic value of time to the forefront and give the moments in your day a more fantastical flavor. “We want to enrich the unique territory of blending time and fantasy, and you need a lot of creativity to do that. This is a big driving force for us, as is our other goal of becoming more and more integrated as a manufacture,” said Perramond. As for their business expansion plans, Hermès is taking root in the Middle East region. “We have high expectations for the Middle East, it is an important part of our business and we really believe in the future here!”