Baselworld 2016 – on time with Hermès

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Hermès is probably one of the golden crowns of French luxury. Established in Paris in 1837, Hermès forged its reputation for excellence crafting saddles and harnesses for horses. With this extremely precise and highly qualitative know-how, the French House extended its leather-making expertise to accessories such as belts, jackets, bags and, from the 1920s, watch straps. Then, Hermès got more and more interested in watch-making and by learning from the best horlogers in Europe ans especially in Switzerland, they decided to create in 1978 <b>La Montre Hermès SA</b>. They opened production facilities in Biel, Switzerland and a ln entire watch collection followed. Hermès watches are classically elegant with a hint of contemporary innovation. Every year, th French Luxury House innovates from a technical point of view as well as from a poetic statement. Every Hermès watch is a poem, an unique timepiece that will create a special relationship between the object and its user. Some of the models are already iconic. Dressage, the H Hour or Le Temps Suspendu are just a few amazing work of art that Hermès has been producing for the happiness of several people around the world.

What is new at Baselworld 2016?

This year at Baselworld 2016, once again Hermès surprised us with incomparable luxury details and know-how. Each timepiece could be admired for hours.

Slim d’Hermès Email Grand Feu

Hermès came this year to Baselworld to once more deliver a beautiful story of watchmaking, know-how, tradition and poetry. With the Slim d’Hermès Email Grand Feu, the collection sets the pace for a return to the quintessence of the watchmaking art. The Manufacture collection now welcomes models paying tribute to the art of Grand Feu enameling. The generous dial opening of this watch line provides an ideal space for the exceptional artistic crafts and expertise that are a brand signature. Hermès associates the Slim d’Hermès Manufacture with the rare technique of Grand Feu enamelling that involves perfect mastery of demanding yet delicate gestures.



The first stage consists in placing two tiny ‘feet’ on a copper plate, which will subsequently serve to af x the dial to the movement. Having placed the plate on a curved wooden supporting base, the artisan rubs the surface to condense, rigidify and trim it down to a nal thickness of just 0.2 mm. This process gives it the robustness required to avoid any warping that would cause the glass enamel to crack. Then comes the enamelling as such. The copper disc is coated on both sides with an in ammable liquid based on a secret composition. Using a ne brush, the enameller then applies thin regular dusting of white enamel powder, before ring it in a kiln heated to 830°C, which is why this technique is known as “grand feu” (great heat). The liquid catches light immediately, while the enamel powder fuses with the copper surface. When the artisan decides that the appropriate melting point has been reached, the disc is removed from the kiln. The first layer is still transparent, blistered and green as a reaction to copper. The artisan repeats the same operations of coating, dusting and firing five or six times until the resulting enamel is intensely white, smooth and shiny. The glaze created using “Grand Feu” enamelling requires no surface polishing.

The time has now come to transfer the hour- markers onto the white disc. The artisan transfers the black enamel paste onto the immaculate enamel by means of repeated operations with a dedicated gelatine pad. A new ring in the kiln sets the inscriptions de nitively in their appointed place and a piece of charcoal is then pressed over the surface to ensure it is perfectly at.


Finally, comes an extremely delicate phase during which the artisan perfects the circumference of the enamelled disc, hand- ling the edges and thus creating angles to ensure the smooth dovetailing of the various elements composing the dial. The three parts of the Slim d’Hermès Émail grand feu are thus soldered to pewter according to their specific nature. Watchmakers used to apply the expertise of “Grand Feu” enamelling to dials. Nonetheless, with the emergence of other skills, this demanding technique has become a rarity. “Grand Feu” enamelling is distinguished by its exceptional qualities, such as the inalterable intensity of its colour, as well as its surface featuring an organic and vibrant effect.

Here are 2 pictures from our private meeting with the Hermes team at Baselworld this year. We can see the beauty of the watch, the elegance of the movement thanks to the transparent sapphire back-case.

Hermes Slim Email enhamel

Hermes Slim Email enhamel

Here is an amazing video that shows you the long hand made process to obtain this enhamel dial

Faubourg Collection Manchette

In 2014, Hermès clothed time in a new composition embracing femininity like a second skin. Exquisitely elegant with its dainty lines, the Faubourg watch celebrates its first emergence from the workshops by appearing in a variety of interpretations. In 2015, it became an all leather-clad cuff watch paying tribute to the original harness- and saddle-making expertise of Hermès. It transcends the art of leather craftsmanship by associating it with gemsetting to become the Faubourg Manchette Joaillerie.



Having become a second skin, the leather ows around the wrist like an extension of the case that has been fashioned in gold by Hermès and adorned with an entirely hand-crafted 36-gemstone baguette setting. Diamonds, emeralds, blue or brown sapphires: the stone-cutter begins by individually cutting each stone with in nite precision. The gemsetter ts them into their settings hollowed out in the bezel, before pushing the material back around them using a scorper, and hammering the result until the stones are securely held in place. He can then proceed to nal polishing to accentuate the radiance of this composition.



As we can see Hermes has presented amazing pieces this year and all of them showcase amazing know-how from Hermès ateliers. By creating a true synergy between all artistic know-hows, each Hermes watch could be considered as a unique piece thanks to all the manual work presented.

Sébastien Eich


Info sourced at private appointment with Hermès at Baselworld 2016. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available. Images are for illustration purposes only. 

Sebastien Eich

Sebastien Eich is passionate about Swiss watch-making and throughout the years he gathered a tremendous amount of knowledge about the beautiful art of creating a watch. Based in Switzerland, the mother land of watch-making, he has exclusive access to Brands and events. He shares all of it here for the great pleasure of sharing.