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Hermès Watchmaking - Part 1

11th May 2020

Hermès built its empire inspired by the equestrian world, first producing horse equipment, then travel accessories, moving on to scarves and finally offering any kind of fashion, home and jewellery products. The luxury lifestyle brand was founded in 1837 by Thierry Hermès and quickly gained reputation for its high quality saddles and harnesses which lead the family firm to largely develop its business.


In 1912, the first Hermès wristwatch is created as a gift for Emile Hermès’ daughter, showcasing a minimalist and practical design. But it is only from 1928 that the French brand started producing watches for commercial aims, in partnership with the Swiss manufacture Movado.


1978 marks a turning point in Hermès’ watchmaking history: the division “La Montre Hermès” is established in Biel, Switzerland, to develop and distribute the Maison elegant watches. The same year, the iconic Arceau watch is launched.

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Arceau Watch, Hermès, Ad  2010

After creating several new watches in the end of the XXth century, Hermès acquires 25% stake in Vaucher for almost $25M USD in 2006. This major step allows the family company to invest in its watchmaking technics and to offer much higher-end timepieces.

Six years later, it purchases Natéber SA in La Chaux de Fonds and Joseph Erard SA, which led to create Les Atelier d’Hermès Horloger in Noirmont. The same year, in 2012, the Equestrian brand launches two in-house movements: H1837 and H1912. These self-winding mechanisms provide hour, minute, seconds and date displays, depending on the model.

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Cape Cod Watch, Hermès, Ad  2010

Hermès is part of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie and participated for the first time to SIHH fair in 2018. This year, it has unveiled is watch novelties on the Watches & Wonders website, last week end. 

Today, the brand produces more than 60’000 watches a year and owns more than 10 major watch designs including: Médor, Kelly, Dressage, Arceau, Heure H, Slim, Galop, Cape Cod, Nantucket, Faubourg, Carré H. The link between horses and Hermès products is unbreakable and each watch of the brand recalls the equestrian world for its shape, name, material and visual advertisements.

Hermès Watches. Legends on pictures. 

The Arceau timepiece was designed in 1978 by creative director, Henri d'Origny and was inspired by the shape of a stirrup with its spaced and curvy lugs. It is imbued with the elegance and classic lines of the horse riding environment. The round case watch features thin and delicate hands as well as italics numbers that recall the horse round in the riding arena. In addition, it is accompanied by a leather strap, signature of Hermès, with its double-stitches, the same than for its saddles.

Over the years, the luxury family-own company has offered many declinations of the Arceau model with various complications, colors, dials and strap materials. Discover the Arceau Petite Lune watch here.

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Arceau Le Temps Suspendu & Arceau Petite Lune Watches, Hermès

A square in a rectangle, this is the key design of the Cape Cod watch. First produced in 1991, Martin Margiela, Hermès Art Director at the time, comes up with the double tour strap in 1998. Adapted for both women and men this watch is available with a Quartz or an automatic movement. Is also exists with a moonphase complication.

Later one the Cape Cod design is reshaped to give birth to Nantucket which presents a similar line but with an elongated and narrower case. It often features some diamonds on its bezel and dial. In 2009, Hermès creates a curvier case: Cape Cod Tonneau is born.

Cape Cod, Nantucket & Tonneau watches, Hermès. Legends on pictures. 

Read the following article Hermès Watchmaking Part 2 here.

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