At Baselworld 2016, Montre Hermes CEO Laurent Dordet celebrated his first year with the brand. He also talked at length with Haute Time about the brand’s watch direction, artistic craftsmanship and innovation.
Q: This year, Hermes has showcased some pretty spectacular one-of-a-kind watches following a nature theme. Can you tell us more about that project?
LD: “Hermes is always about knowhow, creativity and innovation, and every year we present not only the new collections that are well known, but also some individual pieces in which we can express our technical watchmaking knowledge and also our craftsmanship and artisanal expertise. … Every year we try to present a new technique. This year we have several that come together, including blending engraving with translucent enamel work. The new designs are expressions of our theme this year: nature. The concept is to express Hermes creativity through designs. For these artisanal crafts, we source to the best crafts men or women in Switzerland or in France, or they are on our team, so that every year we can demonstrate our know how for our customers. These are always either limited series watches or are one-of-a-kind watches that are well appreciated not only by collectors, but also by our regular customers in stores. Each watch is attributed to one boutique, and it is usually sold quickly so there is no time for these watches to tour.”
Q: Can you tell us about the Nature theme this year and its inspiration?
LD: “Many of this year’s designs are inspired by the drawings of Robert Dallet, and come from his creativity and techniques. Hew as a French specialist in the animal world who drew wild cats in an authentic and beautiful way, especially African cats and felines. He traveled to Africa many times and he had a fantastic talent for drawing those animals in the wild. In his travels, he crossed the road of the Hermes family and eventually he designed several scarves for u, like Jungle Love, and the family bought a lot of paintings and drawings from him. So there is a long relationship there. Some of the designs this year are inspired by his scarves and drawings. Also this year, we organized an exhibition, “Fierce and Fragile” [Big Cats in the Art of Robert Dallet] to exhibit his paintings. The exhibition was implemented in America, in Greenwich, Ct., with Panthera- wildcat conservation organization. It also helped to promote our nature theme of the year. “
Q: The other big story we are seeing this year revolves around the Slim de Hermes. How is that line developing for the brand?
LD: “First of all, Baselworld is a key moment, but we don’t reveal 100 percent of our novelties during Basel, so we chose two messages this year. One is showing a vast pallet of know how and creativity through the nature theme and the other is slim. The Slim de Hermes only launched about six months ago and so it is very young, but it has met with rapid success. The line, for men and women, with our manufacture movement has sold so quickly and much faster than most other collections. It is a recent story, so we want to go deeper in this collection and to diversify. Of course we will work on other lines for men and women, but to come out later this year. Now we have to concentrate on the Slim”
Q: Montre Hermes has purchased a number of suppliers in recent years; how will this affect production or growth?
LD: “ We have over the last years acquired different companies. Since 2006, we own 25 percent of Vaucher, along with two others, for movement production, and we have purchased our case and dial suppliers. We also established a leather workshop in our Swiss factory, so that now we manufacture about 98 percent of our watches in house except for some things like hands and other parts. Now we are digesting these acquisitions and optimizing what can be optimized. There is no short-term project of purchasing any other suppliers. Now it is about doing our job better every year and using all of the companies that we have bought over the last 10 years to their fullest.”
Q: What do your end customers expect from Montre Hermes in terms of product and pricing?
LD: “Our customer breakdown in terms of women/men is 80/20 because that is our history. We were always about women’s watches and have only addressed the men’s market for the past five years or so with a move toward mechanical watches. Now we can say we are a real watchmaker, and we can increase the approach to men. But Hermes is always about using the best materials, from steel to diamonds and gold. So we can offer diversity. On one hand and we o master the traditional methods and watchmaking know how to propose to the market a quality watch with manufacture movements and enamel miniatures at the level of the best players for our customers with an appreciation who can afford these kinds of pieces. On the other hand, we also can express this quality with steel and quartz movements at reasonable and attractive prices. We are proud of each piece because there is no compromise of quality or creativity in any piece we make – from a hundreds of dollars to the most expensive watches; we are very proud of both. They all express the same quality, craftsmanship and creativity. We are not elitists; we have plenty of young customers who push the doors of our stores because they can find quality and affordability. This is what makes Hermes watches attractive to all customers around the world.”
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