La Montre Hermès - Time in movement
"Hermès creates objects. Neither fashion totems, nor cult objects. Objects that artisans' hands shape to make them true companions for those who wear them. These practical and fucntional objects stemming from uncompromising expertise radiate all the inherent lightness of the unexected. They transform daily life into a playground, and a specific point in time into a uniquely special moment."
The link between Hermès and watchmaking goes back over a century and has been expressed over the decades in countless different ingenious, elegant and unique ways. 1912 marked the start of this longstanding history. A photo in the company archives shows Emile Hermès’ four daughters including Jacqueline, who is wearing on her wrist a pocket-watch for which her father had a special strap made by the in-house saddle-making and leather craftsmen. In 1928, the historical Hermès store at 24, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris opened up to the f ield of watchmaking by offering the first timepieces bearing the Hermès signature, equipped at the time with mechanisms from the greatest Swiss watch brands. 50 years later, in 1978, the company set up the watchmaking division of La Montre Hermès in Bienne (Brügg), at the very heart of the Swiss watch industry. Since them, it has developed its collections while progressively integrating horological skills.
Since 2003 with the launch of the Dressage watch equipped with a movement from the Manufacture Vaucher, La Montre Hermès has been actively involved in developing and producing its own movements. In 2006, it created a workshop specially dedicated to the making of leather watch bands, thus becoming the industry’s only brand to craft its own straps. The quest for excellence is the trademark of the Maison Hermès, particularly in the field of watchmaking where it has been enlisting the support of the finest artisans for the past century. Special partnerships have been created and reinforced in recent years. In order to secure a long-term supply of essential components, La Montre Hermès made a financial commitment to two specialised companies, Vaucher Manufacture in Fleurier (for movements) and Joseph Erard SA in Le Noirmont (for cases), acquiring a shareholding in both. It also bought up the Natéber dial-making firm based in La Chaux-de-Fonds. The company has been established since 2003 under the name of Vaucher Manufacture, in Fleurier, Canton Neuchâtel. It is heir to a longstanding watchmaking history that began in the 18th century.
Since 2009, it has been installed in an all-new industrial facility regrouped within a 6,700 square-meter building. This modern and functional setting enables it to manufacture around 18,000 mechanical calibres a year comprising five major product families: self-winding, hand-wound, ultra-thin, large power reserves, and horological complications such as chronographs, perpetual calendars and moon phases. It has a 200-strong personnel mastering around 20 different professions in the field of watchmaking and micromechanical engineering. The company, which is organised in such a way as to be able to meet the most diverse requests, has divided its production into two main flows. The first handles the production of socalled movements, while the second deals with personalised products that require a different development process for each client. For La Montre Hermès, Vaucher Manufacture developed a mechanical self-winding base calibre that has given rise to two movements of different sizes: the H1837, which currently equips the Dressage watch; and the H1912, which drives the Arceau watch. These two movements are composed of 193 parts, beat at a cadence of 4 Hz (28,800 vibrations per hour) and derive their energy from a twin barrel ensuring a 50-hour power reserve. They will serve as a basis for future developments. The majority stake in Vaucher Manufacture is held by the Sandoz Family Foundation. In 2006, La Montre Hermès invested 25 million Swiss francs in acquiring 25% of the company’s share capital.