Slim d’Hermès inspires a cadence based on pure, restrained lines. From the design of the case to the outline of the numerals, 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 enamelling.
As Philippe Delhotal, Creative Director of La Montre Hermès, points out: “The collection was born from encounters between the Maison, designers and artisans. The singular blend of contemporary and classic elegance embodied in Slim d’Hermès expresses the essence of Hermès.”
Graphic arts and horological skills meet and mingle in perfect harmony in a quest for aesthetic purity. The in-house expertise is expressed through the dial, the case and the ultra-thin Manufacture calibre. The exceptionally understated lines are accentuated by the slenderness of the case, while the design of the lugs forms a right angle. Their momentum extends right the way to the spring bars around which the strap appears to coil. The result is the epitome of extreme simplicity, striking the perfect balance between rigorous discipline and visual equilibrium.
An unusual font
With Slim d’Hermès, Philippe Apeloig has for the first time drawn the typographic essence of a watch line. This font with its light, understated rhythm, is generously revealed on a broad dial opening.
“I built it around fundamentals, just as a composer places only seven notes on a musical stave to create a symphony”, explains Philippe Apeloig. “I’m inspired by the human body in motion, and I explore volumes and rhythm through recurrent and overlapping motifs.”
The outline of the numerals respects the natural function of a watch: ensuring the legibility of time, free of any super uous elements. Designed like geometrical shapes, the hour-markers are drawn in a single stroke, without any counterweights on the ends. Just as rests accentuate the melody in a musical score, the lines are sometimes interrupted, representing silent areas in the design that depict the cadence of time.
Grand Feu enamelling expertise
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 affix 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 fine 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 white enamel thus adorns the three dial levels: a first circle bearing the hour-markers, a second in the centre, and finally a tiny small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock
The time has now come to transfer the hourmarkers 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, handling 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 speci c nature.
The experience acquired over the years enables the artisan to master all the subtle aspects of each stage. A dial calls for eight hours of work.
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.
Slim d’Hermès Émail grand feu comes with a rose gold case featuring a slender design and is tted with a matt havana alligator strap crafted in the Hermès leather workshops and stemming from the saddlery and leather-making expertise cultivated by the Maison.
The H1950 movement
At the heart of the Slim d’Hermès Manufacture beats the H1950 ultra-thin movement. Revealed through the transparent sapphire crystal caseback, it drives displays of the hours, minutes and small second at 6 o’clock. The 2.6 mm calibre ensures a 42-hour power reserve. Automatic winding is ensured by a technically complex micro-rotor. The nishes, including hand-chamfered bridge, re ect profound respect for watchmaking traditions and like all Hermès movements, Calibre H1950 is carpeted with a “sprinkling of Hs” motif.
From initial sketch to final timepiece, Slim d’Hermès Manufacture composes a majestic symphony skilfully interweaving graphic arts with watchmaking techniques.