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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Hermès Modernizes The Pocket Watch By Using Its Heritage

The "In The Pocket" pocket watch

Every luxury brand goes through great pains to use its history to introduce new products. In both substance and style Hermès just seems to do it better while making it look easy and natural.

Its newest watch is a case in point. It’s a pocket watch, a product that at one time had a supreme utilitarian function while showcasing one’s taste and sophistication. However, it long ago lost its purpose and appeal when the wristwatch came into fashion.

The French luxury brand has reintroduced the pocket watch in a way that gives it modern appeal while connecting it to the personal creative history of the Hermès family. It’s a story that begins more than 100 years ago but is equally at home in modern times. Just like this new product.

The story begins
In 1912, Jacqueline Hermès, a child at the time, received as a gift from her father an unusual pocket watch with a leather holder to be worn on the wrist. It was designed so the young horsewoman could ride without having to attach her watch to her clothing or slip it into her pocket. In particular, the leather strap was designed to snugly wrap around the watch for complete protection while she rode.

In 2012, 100 years later, the watch was reinvented under the name “In The Pocket,” which was a palladium watch in a hand-crafted leather case that can be worn as a pocket watch or wristwatch. It again has practicality, a utilitarian value while being beautiful. It harkens back not only to a personal Hermès story but its heritage as a creator of hand-crafted leather goods—in particular its craftsmanship of saddles and other leather goods for equestrian pursuits, which is how the company began. In addition, it showcases its gradual development in watchmaking to the point of becoming a full-fledged manufacturer.

The product and process
Hermès just issued its second piece in the series with a rose gold watch clad in an alligator exterior. As with the original, the new watch is designed to be worn as a traditional pocket watch or a wristwatch. It is available in a 178-piece limited edition.

The watch itself is a study in simplicity and balance. The rose gold case contains a silver dial with baton-type hands that sweep over pared-down numerals. A small seconds subdial is located at 3 o’clock. The watch is powered by an in-house H1837 automatic movement with a 50-hour power reserve. Its oscillating weight is adorned with the brand’s signature “sprinkling of Hs” motif.


Meanwhile, it’s the strap that receives the lion’s share of attention from the company.

It is composed of two longer and shorter sections: the plain strap end and the buckle strap end, hand crafted in the leather-making workshops of La Montre Hermès in Switzerland. These two parts are composed of three layers of leather: alligator; cow leather for sturdiness; and a Zermatt calfskin lining.


The hides are soaked and pressed into a mould where they dry for 10 days. Then they are cut with a pointed tool, sanded down and glued. Each of the parts is then partially sewn; the buckle strap end is perforated to free up the spaces that will reveal the dial and through which the plain strap end and the crown will pass. The work continues with the buckle end and the plain strap end fitted together, marked with a compass, indented and sewn using the saddle stitching technique.


Finally there’s the hammering, stitching, dyeing and polishing.

The brand took great pains to ensure that its traditional handcrafted techniques were used, down to the “saddle stitching.” Yet it created a product designed to look as equally eloquent in an urban environment as it does in the stable.

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