Hermès started watchmaking in 1928 thanks to collaborations with other watchmaking factories. It settled in Switzerland in 1978 to get closer to the savoir-faire and started working with Vaucher Manufacture in 2003 before acquiring 25% of the share-capital in 2006. That is when we really accelerated our ambition.
It is both a lot and very little. A lot, because it gave us the time to acquire real mechanical skills and our design and distribution process is already well-set up. But watchmaking is a peculiar field where many big names have been around for decades and where, despite the constant concern for innovation, tradition and experience are extremely valuable.
To integrate this market, Hermès acquired the necessary technique to be among the best and added its touch and its universe.
We bring a new vision of watchmaking, showing that innovation can go through the alliance of exceptional skills. For instance, I have in mind, the “email ombrant” technique, which is well-known but had not been used in watchmaking so far.
Once again, the idea is to open the door to artistic possibilities. Hermès aims at integrating a vision to its watches. That is actually what the craftsmen working with us appreciate: the fact that they can tell a story with Hermès. Although the technique remains at the center of our developments, we add a bit a fantasy, of lightness and humor to it that define our brand.
For now, our position remains modest on the market but we have a big growth potential. Watchmaking experts acknowledged our work and we received prestigious awards. Hermès strongly supports development and it gave us the necessary means to become a branch of this field with the same philosophy, the same expectations and the same quality. Punctual projects, like the bracelets for the Apple Watch, push new publics to associate our brand with Time and watchmaking and it spurs them on to enter the doors of our shops to discover our range of products, notably mechanical.
Now that we convinced a public of experts, we must transform the test by attracting an enlightened amateur public ready to acquire our products. When horses were replaced by cars, we started producing bags while continuing to produce saddles and when we started working on silk, we managed to wait for fifty years to come on top. Doing the same thing in watchmaking seems obvious. And, it would be ironical for a watchmaker to be afraid to take some time…