Luc Perramond, the worldwide CEO of Les Montres Hermès, is someone you don’t miss when he walks into a room. At 6-feet, 8-inches tall, he towers above everyone. Big, however, is not a word that would describe Perramond’s ambition for the Hermès timepiece division. “We are driven by value, not volume,” he said this week when I sat down with him in New York City to have a look at the new Dressage Chronograph. “It is not our volume that has increased [the brand makes under 100,000 watches per year] but our average price – from less than $2,000 four years ago to $4,000 last year.”
With this in mind, Hermès has acquired a dial maker (Natebar), allowing it to vastly increase the complexity and finish of its dials, and recently acquired a 33% stake in Swiss case maker Joseph Erard. Most importantly, Les Montres Hermès has a 25% stake in Swiss movement manufacturer Vaucher, which developed two calibers for Hermès, the H1837 and the H1912, launched last year. Integrating all of these elements enables the brand better quality control says Perramond.
An integrated chronograph movement is the next step, and it is in development, but that is a five-year, multi-million-dollar endeavor, he says. The process, including conception, technical specifications, prototypes, manufacturing of tools and components (up to 300 per movement) assembly, testing and final production, including the acquisition of machinery, “all adds up very quickly to millions of Swiss francs,” says Perramond.
In the meantime Hermès has collaborated with Dubois Depraz, whose chronograph module has been added to the Hermes caliber H1925 for the new Dressage Chronograph, to be introduced next month at Baselworld. Hermès introduced the new watch at a special dinner in New York City on Monday night, attended by VIP clients and a few members of the media. The dinner was preceded by a private performance of an amazing dance, entitled “Time in Motion,” commissioned by Hermes to celebrate time.