In this 4K-video I talk with Guillaume de Seynes about Hermès in general and Hermès watchmaking. Guillaume is the Executive Vice-President of Hermès. The great-grandson of Émile Hermès and a member of the sixth generation of the Hermès family knows “his” brand inside out and has a huge responsibility within the French Luxury Maison.
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Along with his cousins, he is one of the key decision makers in the business, responsible for ensuring the continuous development and sustaining the legacy of Hermès. Guillaume is responsible for the Manufacturing Division and Equity Investments. When Hermès ventured into the world of watchmaking there were challenges. Originally a leather goods and luxury fashion brand, Hermès was an outsider who fought hard to earn recognition as one of the big players. Since 2011 and 2012 respectively, Hermès has indeed integrated the production of dials and cases. In 2016, Hermès brought these activities together under one roof in Le Noirmont, which became “Les Ateliers d’Hermès Horloger”. Not only do they bring together the production units, but also the development that bridges the gap between creation and production. The major advantage of this reorganisation is the ability to react quickly and to have more flexibility for a launch of this kind. Hermès since 2006 also holds a 25 % stake in Vaucher Manufacture belonging to the Parmigiani Group. Vaucher calibres are being used by Parmigiani, Richard Mille and Hermès.
In recent years, Hermès has seen growing interest from its customers, and watch collectors, thanks to launches featuring singular designs and unconventional interpretations of traditional watchmaking : in 2015, for example, with Slim d’Hermès, born from a stylistic exercise around the purity of design and expressing a move towards essentials with a minimalist style; in 2018 with Carré H, 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; or which quite simply, with the privilege of its sobriety and elegance, has since 1978 been expressing the audacity of its designer Henri d’Origny.
I asked Guillaume de Seynes: what place does the new Hermès H08 watch occupy within the brands territory?
“Hermès watchmaking offers a different interpretation of time: a time brimming with whimsical fancy, which goes beyond style; a time that is friendly, enduring, playful and recreational. A time that tells a story and arouses emotions. The Maison does not seek to replicate what already exists, but instead to be daring and follow its intuitions by creating objects whose purpose is not only to indicate the time, but to build a relationship with time. To wear a Hermès watch is to love a rigorous style that is devoid of formalism. It means asserting oneself as a person who is free from time constraints and relaxed, sometimes whimsical. It’s playing with time rather than trying to control it. It’s envisaging a relationship with singular time, a time we play with, without controlling it.
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. It is a model all about contrasts that combines rigorous discipline and high demands, poetry and harmony. An authority expressed through the square shape, the watch movement, the mineral and technological materials, yet presented with sensuality through the roundness, the font, the mix of materials. It is a sensual and light model, yet also virile: ‘sharp, but sensual’. Time is implacable, organised, quantifiable, but it is also qualitative. The object embodies this idea: intended for contemporary individuals concerned by the passage of time in a demanding world. But individuals are also engaged in a quest for meaning. The object becomes a symbolic value. We can no longer make arbitrary objects. They must be means of giving meaning. The watch becomes a real companion, a symbol of a relationship with time and a lifestyle.”
Interested to discover more? Please do also watch this video: https://youtu.be/uOfhpGLyHXI