Launched in Paris in 1837, Hermès originally built their standing in crafting saddles and harnesses for horses (with what can be believed to be one of the best selling leather on earth). In the early twentieth century they expanded into leather-making like belts, jackets, totes and, from the 1920s, watch straps. When it comes to watches (rather than watchmaking yet…), it is only in 1978 when La Montre Hermès SA opened manufacturing centers in Biel, Switzerland. An entire selection of brightly coloured watches followed. This year see’s the launch of the “Slim d’Hermès”.From the outset, it had been clear that Hermès had attempted to create a collection that surrounded both pure lines and simple aesthetic to incentivise daily wear. The Slim d’Hermès is available in a number of different sizes as well as metals and functions. Here we had the stainless steel, 39.5mm, time-only model. In addition, it is available in 18k rose gold case or using a complex perpetual calendar.The most fascinating aspect for this watch for me personally is the dial. It is well balanced and easy while the typography is immediately recognisable. Philippe Delhotal, inventive manager of La Montre Hermès, who originally conceived the typography worked closely with all Parisian graphic designer Philippe Apeloig. You need only visit the late Steve Jobs of Apple to love exactly how vital typography is, ‘when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. It’s all in the detail. The typeface communicates a products story to the user and this is not any different when it comes to watches. This is however often overlooked, but when done correctly, it can make all of the difference.
Hermes brings its delicate and tasteful sensibilities to the Pendentif Boule, a ball-shaped pendant watch in white gold decorated with cloisonné enamel.
A day after the Apple Watch Hermes, the Parisian leather maker unveils a timepiece at the other end of the spectrum. Pendentif Boule translates as “ball pendant”, a simple name that belies the complexity of its decoration. Less a timepiece than a pendant that happens to include a clock, the Hermès Pendentif Boule is decorated with a flower motif executed in cloisonné enamel, with intricate white gold wires formed by hand comprising the outline of the flower. The Pendentif Boule is actually a white gold half sphere, with the other half being the crystal over the dial of the watch. Tiny gold ribbons are shaped by hand into the shape of flower petals – these are known as cloisons or cells – then bent ever so slightly to fit the curve of the sphere. These are then applied to the sphere one by one to form the floral motif. Each metal ribbon has to fit the sphere exactly with no gaps, otherwise the enamel would leak out.
Once the motif is formed, the enamel is painted by hand and fired in an oven, one colour at a time. Repeated trips to the oven to set the enamel at 800°C are required before the entire motif is complete.
Inside the white gold ball is a quartz movement, with the time displayed on a mother of pearl dial. The sphere measures 21mm in diameter, and is accompanied by a matching 18k white gold chain.
|Various enamel samples|
The Pendentif Boule costs SFr55,000 or S$79,400. That works out to about US$56,500.