Hey kids, geometry is fun! That higher maths needed to derive sinuous and sensual curves, not so much. Whilst the maison can afford the French curves, they chose to go chunky/funky with the Hermès H08 . . .
It’s bad enough that I want to pronounce the brand name, like the Futurama character, but H08? That’s a zero, not a capital “o,” so it’s isn’t some molecular compound. Does the zero get pronounced? I want to just call it H8. This, in l8r sk8r talk, is “hate.” Which reminds me of the license plate I once saw that read H8U2DA. I still ponder whether this was random characters or a “hate you today” vanity plate.
I thought I’d missed H01 through H07. More likely, Hermès’ alphanumeric tells us the case has eight sides. The case, not the bezel. The world has enough octagonal bezels flattering the late Mr. Genta, merci beaucoup. Besides, the shape is elongated to avoid the stop sign silhouette. The emaciated octagon becomes a lumpy cushion case.
The 39mm H08 comes in four flavors. The base model boasts a titanium case with “matt (sic) black DLC” and rubber strap for a mere $5700. Diamond-like carbon coating is something like when Superman squeezed a lump of coal into a cut diamond. Bare the case and add a very Patek Nautilus-esque bracelet with little mirrored Chiclet inserts, all titanium, and it’s $6050. Makes sense so far . . .
The $8900 top model has a graphene case – the same lightweight carbon used by RF’s whipping boy Richard Mille. It’s probably like mechanical pencil lead, but hopefully less brittle. The bezel becomes ceramic. Rubber, like pottery, is lighter than metal, even titanium, so back to the rubber band for your $8900.
Wait, no exotic leather? No precious metal case? This is not the Hermès that I pretend to know! O tempora o mores! The old guard now acknowledges the fact that luxury has gotten more informal, more knockabout. They use the term “all-terrain,” conceding that their customers’ feet now touch the ground. It still beats “new luxury.”
The motif of the Hermès H08 is clearly circle in a square, even if the square has cut (or rounded) corners. Unlike the Jaguar E-type that allegedly had almost no straight lines, the H08 may have been sketched entirely with a straight edge and a compass (or maybe tracing coins or bottle caps). It’s all lines and circles.
Look closer. The rounded corner has to have a different center than the circular. So the combination of shapes is literally eccentric. This produces a weird inorganic shape with what a calligrapher would call line width variation (a.k.a., variable stroke thickness).
The fashion house doesn’t phone it in with the H08 typefaces. Unlike the bland ‘custom’ font on that notorious HoDinkee travel clock, this one is as avant-garde as the half sandwich font developed for the Slim d’Hermès Quantième Perpétuel.
The font of the Hermès H08 is entirely composed of fragments of the bezel shape. It’s as if there was a challenge to create all indices using a single stencil. This leads to a somewhat polarizing runic appearance. Some love it, some think they ruined it.
The shape, like Savoir-Faire, is everywhere. It’s on the counterweight of the truly centered central seconds hand, opposite the orange arrowhead (the signature Hermès color, dating back to WWII shortages). Oddly, the seconds indices are inside the hour markers. It may be the missing link between small and central seconds.
The important thing: Hermès stuck a date function in the dreaded 4:30 position, forming the tail of a shiny Q-shape on the pavement dial. It’s almost forgivable, seeing how they used the same proprietary font on the date wheel. Coordination!
Pavement on the front, a monogram-tiled rotor that looks like a
manhole maintenance hole cover on the exhibitionist back.
Developed with Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier, the kinda sorta in-house H1837 automatic movement has been around since 2013, so no news there. The temporal engine offers a 50 hour power reserve and 10 bar water resistance.
Much as that “circle in a rounded square” shape reappears on the case back, the H pattern pops up on the back of the rubber strap. Perhaps one can transfer this pattern to their wrist as our publisher did with the Eberhard Scafograf.
The front bears a texture of woven textile. There are photos of the Hermès H08 on a real woven band, but they aren’t listed on the website. The deployant clasp for a rubber band seems bonkers to me though.
I really don’t know what to make of anything by Hermès, except that I don’t care for their necktie patterns and those H-logo belts are gauche.
In Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, the author came away impressed after seeing their Birkin bag being hand made. She cited them as one of few true luxury brands making real luxury goods.
Horologically, Hermès don’t get no respect. Presumably because they are a fashion brand. And yet, compared to much of their wares, Hermès watches are a relative bargain. God bless them, they aren’t derivative.
The Hermès H08 may be a bit late to the upscale sporty watch game, but they bring style. Even if it the H08 is odd and artsy in a modern way that alienates old farts like me.