In the always exciting world of watchmaking, which has witnessed a real explosion in the past ten years, we have seen hundreds of famous brands present more or less large collections of watches.

    Among them, large commercial success has crowned the watchmaking expression of aesthetics and style that distinguish the large haute couture names.

    In 99% of cases the watch, the “par excellence” object of desire for present day consumers, has added itself to the long list of fashion accessories that have been around for a long time.

    However, rare are the brands (two or three perhaps) that really merit the title of Watchmaking House and this is by no means an accident.

    A shining example of the fully successful integration of the DNA of a grand Haute Couture house in a collection of watches, the House of Hermès started its journey in the magical world of watchmaking in 1920, a few years before the creation of the famous sac à dépêches (better known by its later name, Kelly bag) and of the equally famous scarves.

    Thierry Hermès was the sixth child of a French family and was born in the German town of Krefeld in 1801, when the region was part of the Napoleonic Empire. In 1837, having lost all his family, he left Krefeld and went to Paris where he opened the House of Hermès. A highly skilled craftsman, it took him no time to make a name for himself thanks to his outstanding equestrian equipment and in particular to his harnesses and saddles.

    The experience and know-how he acquired after decades of working with leather led to the creation of workshops making belts, clothing and bags.

    A century ago, in 1912 to be exact, Jacqueline Hermès, the daughter of Emile Hermès, wore a pocket watch held around her wrist by a leather bracelet, made especially for her by the House of Hermès. A few years later, in the 1920s, the first watchstraps created by Hermès appeared.

    Before the end of the decade, in 1928, the first Hermès watches, crafted by the greatest watchmakers of the time, such as Universal Genève, Jaeger, Vacheron & Constantin and Audemars Piguet, are starting to be sold initially in the historic Hermès boutique at 24, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.

    The first model was Ermeto, a pocket watch with a self-winding mechanism provided by a system of shells that slide open and shut each time one reads the time. Ermeto watch was made by Movado, the Swiss watchmakers, and featured a leather sheath made by Hermès.

    In the 1930s, Hermès launches several mechanical sport watches, as well as brooch watches, clocks and miniature clocks. Among its customers are members of royal families, such as Carol II, king of Romania, who in around 1935 ordered a pocket watch in rose gold and steel, with his coat of arms engraved on the case.

    In the 1940s, it is the Hermès chronographs that come to know a huge success. The king of Italy Umberto II orders a belt watch in yellow gold based on a 1928 model manufactured by Tavannes, which Hermès’ golfing clients truly appreciated.

    In the 1950s and 1960s, the Hermès collection was mostly about steel watches to suit the needs of men of action and gem-set gold watches for elegant women. One of the historic models was Footing, also known as Étrier, that’s stirrup, the shape that inspired the case design and carried a Jaeger movement.

    In the 1970s, after the success of the quartz watches, the Kelly watch comes out with a quartz movement, paying homage to the famous Hermès bag.

    The dream of having its own production units in the very heart of Swiss watchmaking know-how was realized in 1978, when “La Montre Hermès SA” workshops open in Bienne, Switzerland. It is a memorable year for Hermès company since it was the same year that Jean-Louis Dumas, five generations down from the founder, takes over as chairman and breathes new life into the House.

    It is also in 1978 that the Arceau collection, with a case also inspired by the stirrup is born.

    What followed is both creative and successful:

    In 1981, Clipper, the house flagship model, with its characteristic porthole shaped bezel.

    In 1991, Cape Cope, which Martin Margiela, art director for women’s ready-to-wear at Hermès, enhances with a double-loop leather strap in 1998 launching a very sophisticated trend.

    In 1993, Médor, a watch that speaks of studded dog collars.

    In 1996, Harnais, with his casing integrated into its leather wrist band.

    In 1996, Heure H, with an H [the Hermès initial] shaped case.

    In 2003, Dressage collection with Vaucher Manufacture movements.

    Hundreds of models meet with huge success in the first 25 years of “La Montre Hermès” subsidiary in Switzerland, and 2003 (the year in which the House celebrates 75 years of watch creation) is marked by a major event which was to open huge prospects for Hermès timepiece designers.

    The famous manufacturer Vaucher Fleurier, known all around the world for the quality and precision of its movements, joins the celebrated House of luxury products with Hermès acquiring in 2006, 25% of the shares.

    Among values dear to both companies is “outstanding workmanship” and the passion for the art of handcrafting.

    The two-hundred year presence of Vaucher Fleurier has endowed it great experience in a wide range of complications and it guides the House of Hermès to the production of small series of complicated watches.

    The first Vaucher model made for Hermès was part of the new Dressage collection, and more precisely an automatic watch of outstanding precision.

    2005 sees the launch of Kelly 2 and Arcole, and 2006 of the jewellery model Kilim and the Boule clock.

    In 2007 the models Cape Cod Phases de Lune, Dressage Quantième annuel, Clipper Chrono Automatique and Clipper Chrono Automatique Plongée are presented.

    In 2011, the Arceau Temps Suspéndu model (a watch that brings to the House of Hermès the Watch of the Year 2011 award at the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève), following the Cape Cod Grandes Heures model, which had preceded the Arceau model, revolutionize not only the art of watchmaking but also the way we perceive time!...

    All timekeeping creations benefit from the House’s invaluable experience in leather crafting and are based on the use of most excellent skins, as part of an ongoing quest for superior quality guaranteed by a series of numerous delicate processes.

    Every Hermès watch is a tribute to both the art of leather crafting and the art of watchmaking.