Even amongst seasoned luxury watch journalists – what an insane phrase to say aloud, amirite? – Hermès is a name that you can count on to illicit genuine excitement. Almost, invariably.
Better known to the rest of Planet Earth as the makers of the $20,000 Birkin, in recent years Hermès have also been working in overdrive to expand their watchmaking capabilities.
In the early days, snorts of disbelief quickly turned to sheer wonderment when the brand unveiled pieces like the original Slim d’Hermès, and later on, the whimiscal Arceau LeTemps Voyageur DualTime.
With movements manufactured by Vaucher and an incredibly switched-on design team (led by Philippe Delhotal) the annual Hermès appointment is one that we always look forward to; and I’m delighted to say that this year continues that streak.
Working, insofar as the men’s novelties are concerned, mostly in the context of the H08 collection – Hermès’ own twist on the ‘sporty-chic’ integrated bracelet watch – let’s take a look at the brand’s 2023 novelties below. As always, be sure to check out all of our coverage from Watches & Wonders 2023 here, and for up-to-the-minute news head on over to Instagram.
Highlights From The Hermès 2023 Novelties Presentation
The Hermès H08 Chronograph
First up, let’s start with the brand’s ‘hero’ release. The first H08 model to possess functionality any more complicated than a date window, this chronograph cleverly opts for a monopusher – or monopoussoir if you’re fancy – interface that preserves the overarching purity of the H08 design.
The elliptic cushion shape of the case (41mm x 41mm) is repeated within the dial, and much like this watch’s 3-handed predecessor, Hermès’ designers have been able to eek out every ounce of visual personality by applying different textures that correspond to specific parts of the dial.
As you can see in both the live images and press material, the 30-minute and 60-second registers have been treated with a stubbly, pebbled finish. This is in contrast to the chapter ring and outermost segment of the dial, which features the classic smooth-grain treatment you’ll find in early H08 releases. Unlike the new time-only models which we’ll come to in a moment, the bezel is forged using titanium.
The use of primary colour has been very carefully linked to kinetic elements, which means that outside of the chapter ring, if you’re looking at a splash of orange on the dial, it’s guaranteed to have something to do with the chronograph.
That functionality is controlled using a single pusher (actually recessed inside the PVD-coated crown). Whilst only capable of timing a single interval – unlike your Patek rattrapantes or Lange double-splits – the movement that confers this new H08 with its name is nevertheless an impressive stride forward for Hermès: especially because the addition of the chronograph module has not enlarged the watch’s size (in fact, its 1mm thinner than the original H08).
All in, this is a very promising introduction to what hopefully will be a full range of complications.
New composite material (and colours) in the H08 collection
A ‘fashion watch’ that will appeal to collectors with a penchant for independent thinking, the traditional bi-metal H08s are being joined this year by four new additions made in what Hermès has dubbed its ‘composite’ case material. A mixture of fibreglass that has been coated in aluminium and graphene powder, the resultant cases have a variegated aesthetic – akin to what you’d find in open-cut mineral crystals – but are completely smooth to the touch.
According to the brand’s watchmakers, the use of fibreglass and a graphene shell makes these new H08s both lightweight and extremely resistant to wear. Regardless of the veracity of those claims, it’s certainly a cool look that stands apart from the usual litany of brushed and polished stainless steel.
In terms of the on-wrist experience, the new composite H08 is still sized at a very approachable 39mm x 39mm; but Hermés are bolstering the collectability of the line-up by offering these, from the get-go, in four colourways.
Admittedly, the majority of the ‘blue’, ‘orange’, ‘yellow’ and ‘green’ in these models comes from their respective ‘braided’ rubber straps, but the shade is subtly echoed throughout each dial – at its most noticeable in the minute track and second hands.