Hermes Slim 2016

Slim d'Hermès Email Grand Feu: streamlined time

The elegant and “fusional” Slim d'Hermès brings pure watchmaking values to their core and adds a new sense of style to the contemporary collection whose dials and numerals reinterpret the rhythm of the passing of time.        

By Vincent Daveau

Having branched out into watchmaking, Hermès has been producing its own timepieces with the help of leading brands since 1928. The famous visionary Parisian saddler felt change coming and established La Montre Hermès SA in Bienne in 1978, a company which boosted the brand’s swift development in watchmaking. In 2003, Hermès started to reinforce its position by housing Vaucher movements in its watches. In 2006, it became a Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier shareholder, thus gaining access to its workforce and machinery, and started producing in-house calibers.

Slim d'Hermès 2016 Slim d'Hermès

Time for meetings

Yet, when we aim for streamlined design, visual arts and watchmaking skills come into play. At the end of the day, watchmaking skills are materialized in a product which encompasses a dial, a case and an in-house extra-thin caliber. As Philippe Delhotal, Creative Director at Montre Hermès put it: "Composed of a unique elegance that is both modern and traditional, the Slim collection is the result of meetings that involved the maison, its designers and its craftspeople. In a way, this piece illustrates the essence of the Maison".

With its refined and elegant lines, the collection was built around a streamlined design and aims to bring time to its core. A successful endeavor, particularly as far as the dial – designed by Philippe Apeloig – is concerned. In Apeloig’s words: "I designed it based on fundamentals, just like a composer writes a symphony by combining only seven notes". As a result, the pieces respect the natural function of a watch and offer perfect readability. Placed on the dial with a large opening, the sober and subtle numerals are the very soul of the collection. To make them as large as they are, there had to be space for them and a unique caliber was in order.

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The dial – the face of a watch

The pure white dial of the Slim d'Hermès is an invitation to taking time to appreciate the watch's design. With its utterly sober lines, the case looks very thin when worn and keeps attracting attention. However, it is the Grand Feu enamel that speaks volumes of the nobility of the dial's design and purity. At this point, we must confess it would have been a shame if this refined piece had never been designed. Indeed, the thin bezel reveals through its large opening the magic of the piece’s depth and splendor. As enamel dials are born from fire, their main feature is their color and rich texture that do not fade with time. Vitrified with fire (at approximately 800°c), the enamel powder covers both sides of the dial with a thin layer of copper on which two dial feet have been welded. Five to six layers are needed to obtain a snow white shade and if the enamel is well fitted by expert hands, the glaze shall not be altered with time and hence will never need repairing.

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It should be noted that the dial of the Slim d'Hermès was especially complex to produce as it is made of three different elements fired at the same time to guarantee each component has the same shade of white. Whether it is the center/ exterior circular graining with the numerals or the small seconds counter, all the elements are meticulously chamfered to fit each other perfectly before being welded with tin, as was the method used for the most striking pocket watches in the past. Only experienced carftmen can do complete justice to the magnificence of Grand Feu enameling. Demanding and tricky to make, it requires some serious skills that Hermès, which is famous for its close ties with craftsmanship, has successfully garnered for this charmingly magical piece.

A heart of gold

Since only the best of watchmaking art would do for the 39.5-mm piece with a velvety white dial, the brand chose the warmth of 5N pink gold. The coherent assembly, which comes with a matt Havana alligator strap made at Hermès’ worshops, is driven by an in-house self-winding micro-rotor caliber (ref. H1950).

Slim d'Hermès Email Grand Feu Slim d'Hermès Email Grand Feu

Developed, produced and assembled in Vaucher’s workshops in Val-de-Travers, the self-winding movement (30 mm –13 ¼ lines – x 2.6 mm) beats at 21,600 vibrations per hour. It is hand-finished and its components, visible through the transparent back, are decorated with an "H" pattern. The piece is efficient and its design is based on traditional codes. It is perfect for aficionados who seek nothing but perfection and who are aware that the brand’s signature is guarantee of the long-term excellence of this wonderful piece that blends art and applied watchmaking techniques.

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