Hermès Baselword 2014 - Between horses, hidden hours and Italian flowers

Hermès Baselword 2014 – Between horses, hidden hours and Italian flowers

by Olivier Müller
Baselworld, Hermès

Hermès, French luxury, silk scarf, saddles. And watches. The brand is not really into amazing complications, but more into time stories, into complications that serve the spirit of the brand : preciousity, legibility, grace.

Hermès had a great moment of glory with the Temps Suspendu, which won the much coveted prize of the Men’s Watch in 2011. In such a case, the tough part of the job is, afterwards, to create a watch that can live with such a famous predecessor. That’s the watch Hermès unveiled during Baselworld 2014. It’s called the Heure Masquée, and it’s a real success.

Hermès Dressage L’heure masquée - Baselworld 2014

Hermès Dressage L’heure masquée – Baselworld 2014

How does it work, in a nutshell ? It’s basically a single-hand watch. The mischievous hour hand remains hidden beneath the constantly moving minute hand, solely designed to appear at a deliberate press on a crown-integrated pushbutton. This fleeting apparition captures exclusively the moment in hand and vanishes as soon as the pressure is released – as too does the dual-time window display caught up in the same game of hide and seek. This stage-setting is orchestrated by the interaction of the rack, pinion and gear trains. When stimulated, the hour cam releases from its hiding place the hand that appears to perform its role of pointing to the correct hour on the dial. The dual-time indication is driven by the base movement and adjustable via the pushbutton opposite the crown. The movement is made by Vaucher for Hermès. It offers 45 hours of power reserve in a cushion-shaped, 40.5 x 38.4 mm, case. Presented in steel and yellow gold, the L’Heure Masquée is expected in stores in November between 15,700 and 32,900 euros.

Hermès Collection Baselworld 2014 – Ladies out on the Faubourgs

On the ladies side, Hermès launched a brand new collection called Faubourg. It’s based upon a quartz caliber and is probably one of the smallest watch for women in the world, with only 15,5 mm of diameter. The piece will be available in rose, white or yellow gold, non-set or diamond-set, from 4,900 up to 12,500 euros, in stores in May.

Hermès Collection Baselworld 2014 – Hermès, with an H like…Horse.

This year, horses have inspired the creation of two pocket watches as well as some wrist watches. It’s the result of a meeting between watchmaking and the art of wheel engraving. Recalling the equestrian origins of the company, the motifs decorating their crystal cover stem from two glasses made at the beginning of the 19th cen-tury by the Cristalleries Royales de Saint-Louis, which now belongs to Hermès. The Arceau Pocket Chevaux sauvages highlights either subtle shades of grey or blue, achieved through the use of Grand Feu enamelling.

Hermès Collection Baselworld 2014 – You don’t know Millefiori ?
(We didn’t either, until BW14.)

Everything at Saint-Louis begins with the glass-melting furnace known as a pot furnace. The gatherer or ball-maker dips a punty (metal rod or blowpipe) into the mouth of these pots, each containing a colour of crystal or enamel, and twirls the molten matter to form a homogenous bubble-free mass known as a gob. Thus begins the work of the master glassmakers. The punty is passed on from hand to hand until a monochrome crystal sprue is formed which will serve to create the canes that will in turn give rise to the ‘millefiori’ motif (a combination of Italian words meaning ‘a thousand flowers’).

Crafted by applying successive layers of crystal to enamel to reveal the colour, these canes resemble barley sugar candy canes. They are in some cases assembled to form ever-richer patterns. Whatever their colour or design, the process itself remains identical.

Baguettes (Canes) Millefiori

Baguettes (Canes) Millefiori

A glassworker takes a gob of molten crystal to which a second artisan applies his punty, before moving away as far as the temperature of the matter permits. He pulls or draws with him a several metre-long thread measuring just a few millimetres in diameter, and which will then be broken into several sections. The canes thus created are cut into small ten-millimetre portions that are then vertically placed in a cast-iron bowl, where they form a bed of flowers.

Millefiori Bed of Flowers in Cast-iron Bowl

Millefiori Bed of Flowers in Cast-iron Bowl

While one master glassmaker prepares a crystal ‘calotte’ or ‘skullcap’, the part that fixes it to the rod, a colleague brings him the bowl containing the millefiori. With the tip of his punty, the first artisan adds the molten clear crystal, fusing the two blocks so as to encapsulate or “package” the motif in glass. The punty then returns to the port opening in the furnace, and the material is worked with a shaping block or ladle-like wooden tool, meticulously fashioned with a wooden pallet – sometimes even with paper – to achieve the required shape. To set the finishing touch to the paperweight, the glassmaker creates a collar that will enable him to cut off the desired portion of crystal.

Crystal clear ?

Hermes Millefiori Dial - Ready to Mount

Hermes Millefiori Dial – Ready to Mount

    Author Bio

    Articles by Olivier Müller


    Olivier Müller is a professional journalist specialising in horology. He divides his time between Geneva and Paris, covering horology-related topics for a dozen or so magazines and specialist websites in Europe. He is also a regular speaker at various events. In 2008, Olivier Müller set up Delos Communications to manage the writing side of his business, spanning five European countries. Delos Communications also provides consultancy services for horological communication, helping brands as they define and implement their strategy in terms of positioning, messages and audience. In addition to the world’s two largest watchmaking groups, Delos Communications’ clients include a broad range of emerging independent brands, as well as public-sector bodies keen to promote their local watchmaking heritage. Five people work for the agency, including a journalist, a photographer, a community manager and a translator, all with expertise in the world of watchmaking.