Philippe Delhotal of Hermes on its New Horology Masterpieces

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Mapping the journey making impeccable leather goods to fine watches, Philippe Delhotal, Artistic Director at La Montre Hermès, shares with us details on the new techniques and innovations infused to notch up the craftsmanship game.

In the current economic scenario, how easy or difficult is it to focus on creativity and innovation?
Creativity is at the centre of Hermès’s developments. It lies in remaining loyal to the values of the house: an elegant and discreet style, beautifully crafted products, and strong creativity. We should not be guided by the mood of the market. We will continue to create products that make our customer dream by bringing a touch of fun.

Since joining La Montre Hermès as creative director in 2009, what are some of the developments that you’ve initiated?
Since 2009, we have been developing the craftsmanship segment with a range of exceptional and limited pieces highlighting some specific know-how to apply in watchmaking such as marquetry, crystal, porcelain, enamel or lacquer. The year 2011 was a strong year with the launch of the Arceau Le Temps Suspendu, which showed a different way of interpreting time with an unconventional and singular complication. More recently, we have introduced a new product line—Slim d’Hermès—which is performing well for both, men and women models. We are bringing new versions to set this line as one of our strong pillars.

One of our favourite watches this year is the Slim d’Hermes Email Grand Feu. What is your vision for this collection?How do you see it expanding?
The Hermès Slim watch is not out to beat world records. On the contrary, the main purpose is to achieve a technical and aesthetic balance.  Achieving thinness is never at the expense of the horological fundamental of a steady rate. As with the design of the watch, the purpose is to attain the right balance. This movement is unique in terms of its conception. Our recently built ultra-thin micro-rotor has benefitted from all the technological progress of the 21st century as well as historical knowledge. On top of this, it is important to highlight that the new Slim d’Hermès showcases Hermès’s vertical integration: the movement comes from Vaucher (partly owned by Hermès), the strap is made in the Hermès leather workshops, the dial at Natéber SA (owned by Hermès), and the case is made at Joseph Erard SA (also owned by Hermès). Slim d’Hermès has a high potential either within the core collection or with more exceptional pieces highlighting craftsmanship. It is an elegant and classic, but also contemporary piece that speaks to the essentials of the brand. It is an elegant Hermès object that appeals to customers looking for a singular timepiece with a strong Hermès DNA and high quality in terms of movement and finishing.

Over the years, we’ve seen many designs that focus on various métiers d’art. How has this worked out for the brand?
Hermès is a house of craftsmanship and quality highlighting a richness of creation. This is part of our DNA not only for watches but for all different métiers within the house.

Can you tell us about the inspiration for the new range of watches and some of your favourite pieces?
My sources of inspiration are mainly based on the extraordinary creative wealth of the Hermès universe. This is particularly true of the exceptional pieces that highlight artistic crafts. I particularly like the new Slim d’Hermès line, which for me, brings very fine elegance.

Have you observed any developing trends? What is your overall trend forecast for 2016?
Trends are generally ephemeral and often opportunistic. Here at Hermès, we don’t follow trends; instead, creativity sets the tone. That being said, there are a number of genuinely interesting developments emerging in watchmaking, particularly with new materials.

Which was your most important project?And what is the most challenging aspect of your role?
My day-to-day business is my most important project. There are many challenges, but the most important thing for me is to always try to reconcile design with various technical constraints, and this consistently implies challenging preconceived ideas.

If one could invest in an Hermès watch, what do you recommend?
There is a wide range of watches which could either please customers looking for high-end mechanical watches or for the ones looking for creative and singular pieces of high quality. With this year’s novelties, I feel that we could respond to various wishes and we would be really pleased to present our collection to any client who feels close to the Hermès culture.

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