The new Hermès Faubourg Manchette Steel watch
Your mind may jump to luxury leather handbags when Hermès is mentioned, but the French brand also makes some sensational timepieces; from classic styles to show-stopping high jewellery watches.
Hermès’ watch heritage can be traced back to 1912 when founder Emile Hermès created a special wrist strap for his daughter Jacqueline’s pocket watch. By 1928, Hermès transformed part of his famous Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré boutique in Paris into a watchmaking haven, incorporating some of its very first timepieces with Swiss-made movements.
Left to right: Arceau Petite Lune, Arceau Millefiori Blue and the Arceau Automatic in rose gold
Some 50 years later, in 1978, the company set up its own watchmaking manufacture – La Montre Hermès in Bienne – placing itself at the very heart of the Swiss watch industry. Since then it has been developing its own collections, focusing on colour, creative dial designs and some of the best leather straps available in the industry.
It may have started making saddles for horses, but today Hermès is a master of small leatherwork. In 2006 it set up its own workshop especially dedicated to making leather straps, including goatskin, calfskin, ostrich and alligator. If you’re a leather aficionado, we promise this is the brand for you!
Nowhere is this focus on leather better demonstrated than the new Hermès Faubourg Manchette collection (top image), combing a small steel case surrounded by a wide sweeping cuff of bright purple, red, orange and tan.
If a bracelet strap is more your bag, the Hermès Faubourg Pierre in white gold is set with a lapis lazuli, malachite or onyx dial – providing just the right balance of glamour and timelessness.
The new Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique (left) and the Slim d’Hermès Koma Kurabé
But don’t be fooled into thinking watches are just a bit of a hobby for Hermès, because the brand has invested heavily in its watch-making credentials. It started by securing a financial stake in the Vaucher Manufacture in Fleurier for its movements, as well as buying Natéber SA in La Chaux-de-Fonds for its dial work and Joseph Erard SA in Le Noirmont for all its case requirements.
If we were forced to choose our highlights (ideally, we want more than one!), we’d have to pinpoint the new Slim d’Hermès Mille Fleurs du Mexique, with its gorgeous green leather strap and hand-painted mother of pearl dial. It’s inspired by 15th and 16th century Mexican tapestries, but if you love it you’ll have to get in quick as there are only six available.
The Hermès Cape Cod Zebra Pegasus (pictured above) also made us swoon when it was launched last year. The 22ct gold dial was created using traditional engraving techniques and Grand Feu enamelling – some of the most tricky decorative forms in the world. Amazingly, the wings are created by placing tiny gold wires on the dial to create borders for the enamel to sit within. If that’s not dedication, we don’t know what is.
With classic diamond high jewellery pieces and more accessible leather strap designs, Hermès offers a little streak of French luxury for everyone. We got our hands on a sleek Slim d’Hermès, so make sure to check back and read our review later this month.