Slim d’Hermès GMT: ‘Let’s Play’ With This Useful, Attractive Travel Companion
Every year the house of Hermès has an overall theme that contributes to the creativity of each of its 14 product categories. At the brand’s inaugural SIHH showing in January 2018, we experienced this theme first hand with the unusual booth placed at the beginning of the fair, which was very obviously attributed to the category “Let’s Play” with its many games.
The annual theme (vividly illustrated in the brand’s spring runway shows in March 2018) continues with the newest addition to La Montre Hermès’ watch line, the Slim d’Hermès GMT, which I can only describe as having a cool and playful personality – the perfect watch for someone looking for something wearable and useful, yet completely different.
And palladium too
The Slim d’Hermès GMT case is crafted in palladium, a rarely used metal in case making – and that only since 2005 (when it made its debut in a Parmigiani watch). It was until then considered too soft to use as a case material, though it was sometimes used for making springs and decoratively on dials.
The palladium case alloy was developed by Johnson Matthey, a company specializing in precious metals and supplying a good deal of the jewelry industry, where palladium is more commonly utilized than in watches.
Palladium was discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston, though it is the modern alloy that makes it malleable and beautiful in its brilliance, which is one of the main reasons for its use, as well as having good resistance to corrosion and oxidation.
And the palladium alloy’s degree of purity (950 parts) surpasses that of all golds used in case making (generally 750 parts/18 karat), similar to the purity of platinum alloys.
All of these elements make it an excellent choice to house an unusual watch like the Slim d’Hermès GMT.
The playful looks of the Slim d’Hermès GMT
As head of design for La Montre Hermès, Philippe Delhotal, told me, “The design grail is giving a personality to something without personality.”
This is indeed something that Hermès has achieved with this watch as it exudes a distinct and playful personality within the confines of a “normal” GMT watch, whose only function is really to provide the time in two time zones.
Let’s start then with the dial, which began life as a normal blank but soon received an unusual slate-grey color to match the understated palladium case. It also boasts a sunburst-finished chapter ring for the very modern numerals famously commissioned from Parisian graphic designer and former design consultant to the Louvre Philippe Apeloig for the introduction of the Slim d’Hermès line in 2015. The white numerals against the backdrop of the textured ring make them pop out.
The subdial for the date at 6 o’clock is also textured in what is known as a snail finish, which sets it off nicely from the slate-grey backdrop.
And then there is the second time zone subdial, the cherry on top of the cake’s icing. This subdial has been grained and silvered so that it stands out not only in color but also in its delightful and very different finish.
The numerals on the subdial are what Delhotal calls “escaped” numbers; even though they remain in the proper order needed to tell the time, some of their placements seem to have little rhyme or reason.
It is still quite easy to tell the time using this escaped number system, but you do tend to look twice and then once more before being sure. This makes you think a little more about time than you might have done had the numerals just been in their usual positions.
There are three hands on the dial, all of which are low key and baton shaped according to the Slim d’Hermès line’s design codes. The large hour and minute hands are sandblasted and rhodium plated so that they almost fade into the background while the small hand for the GMT subdial is lacquered blue, standing out in a very pleasant way against the silver color in the background.
This blue also matches the little dots on the right side of the dial symbolizing night hours; these two dots represent whether it is day or night in local (L) and home (H) time, with the blue dot color matching the blue of the hand in the subdial for the second time zone. A very clever design cue to aid the functionality of the watch.
Then there is the sapphire crystal, which naturally is not just your run-of-the-mill sapphire crystal. It is coated with a smoky PVD dark-grey color that is also slightly degradé, which means that the color is darker around the edges and gets lighter going inward toward the center of the dial. This is, of course, very subtle, but with great effect.
The whole look is topped off by a matte graphite-colored alligator-skin strap with purposeful blue stitching, made in-house by Hermès of course (see Hermès Watch Straps: Quality Without Compromise, Suppleness Guaranteed) and secured using a palladium buckle.
The travelers’ complication, so very Hermès
It’s fairly easy to get lost in time and space as you jet through time zones, possibly ending up in a new country with a new time zone. The confusion can be real.
This new watch by Hermès makes it easy for us to keep track of both the time zone we are in and the time zone our loved ones are in at home with just a glance.
To achieve this lovely GMT watch, Hermès worked with one of today’s most creative complication makers, Jean-Marc Wiederrecht’s team at Agenhor, who added an ultra-thin module to the brand’s already thin Caliber H1950.
The movement measures 2.6 mm in height while the 63-component module is only 1.4 mm, making for a combined 4 mm in height. That is an astoundingly – and commendably – thin movement for such complication. And it includes automatic winding!
Delivery is expected to begin in August 2018, but you’d better hurry if you want one as there are only 90 examples to be had.
For more information, please visit www.hermes.com.
Quick Facts Slim d’Hermès GMT
Case: 39.5 x 8.14 mm, palladium
Movement: automatic Caliber H1950 with Agenhor GMT module, ultra thin at 4 mm total height; micro rotor; 3 Hz/21,600 vph; very fine finishing, 42-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes; date, second time zone (GMT), day/night indicators for both time zones
Limitation: 90 pieces
Also published on Medium.