Hermès Quartz Watch – Would You Pay Three Grand for One?

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“Hermès has $1 billion from watch sales in its sights,” usa.watchpro.com reports. If the French luxury brand hits its target, it joins Rolex, OMEGA, Cartier, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille and Longines in the billionaire boys club. Hermès’ timepiece sales are soaring, but which watches account for their dramatic growth? Twenty to forty grand mechanical timepieces, or three to four grand quartz watches?

Hermès’ modern mechanicals are no slouch under the hood. In 2006, they bought a 25 percent stake in Manufacture Vaucher Fleurier and shouted allez! Five years later, their first in-house movement, the H1837, hit the streets. Since then, they’ve unleashed the H1950 (motivating the Slim d’Hermès Quantieme Perpetuel above), H1127 and H1201. High-end stuff.

Hermès and Vaucher are both Richemont Group subsidiaries (not sure how that percentage thing works). As are Cartier, IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre, who also use Vaucher Fleurier mechanical movements.

At the quartz end of the biz, Hermès relies on the old reliables: Ronda, ETA and, yes, Vaucher. Let’s take a closer look…

The 40mm Arceau watch above is powered by a Ronda 515.24H. It’s a workmanlike movement, from a family of movements known among Swiss watchmakers for its profit-friendly price.

Yes, there is that. The $3400 Arceau shelters the same temporal engine as the $180 42mm Tissot T-Classic Dream. As you can guess, all of Hermès’ quartz timepieces run off equally pedestrian – if reliable and accurate – quartz movements.

So what exactly merits three-grand-and-the-rest for a Hermès quartz? For that we turn to ablogtowatch.com‘s spin doctoring.

(courtesy ablogtowatch.com)

“The case itself is polished stainless steel, while the perfectly round and curved bezel is in micro-blasted titanium.

The difference in color, texture, and proportions between the flashy steel and the rugged titanium indicates Hermès is willing to go the extra mile — the absolute majority of fashion companies would have (and indeed they do) clad their watches in all-polished steel, hoping that the brand name and some minor design tweaks will carry the watch.

I applaud Hermès for having access to its own case manufacturer and utilizing this access to create something that is, in its shape and combination of materials, unique.”

Golf clap? A lot of watchmakers use a “perfectly” round case.

By the same token, titanium isn’t as exotic a watchmaking material as it once was. The $264 Citizen Eco-Drive Super Titanium Watch makes an excellent case for itself (so to speak). It’s accurate AF and never needs a new battery. But then it’s a Citizen and not a Hermès.

A watch that comes with a magnificently supple, perfectly dyed, immaculately constructed Hermès strap made of barenia calfskin – one of Hermès’ original saddle leathers.

Barenia Birkin bag (courtesy pursebop.com)

The Arceau strap is the flawless result of Hermès’ semi-secret tanning process. (Don’t tell anyone but the leather’s double-tanned in chrome and vegetable dyes, soaked in a mixture of nine different oils over five to six weeks.) Hermès rarely makes it ultra-desirable Birkin bags out of the material; the donor calf hide must be flawless and the leather is prone to wear.

Now how much would you pay?

Did I mention that it’s a Hermès watch? I think I did. And that counts for something, especially when you’re shopping at a Hermès boutique, where labor, rent and cleaning services cost the brand a freaking fortune. Think of $3400 as a donation to the cause of high fashion. ‘Cause maybe you can’t afford to make a more significant contribution. Or…

You like the look, feel and size of the Arceau and you’ve got the readies to spare.

By the same token, the $3450 quartz Hermès Heure H watch is a handsome piece. I reckon the H-shaped case provides an even better S&M (Standing & Modeling) brand-boasting opportunity.

So, would you pay $3k or so for a “humble” Hermès quartz watch? Truth be told, if I had the cash sloshing around my wallet, I’d be tempted. If I had to guess, quartz timekeepers are pushing the brand’s watch sales to the stratosphere.

That said, there’s a $4200 39.5mm pre-owned Slim D’Hermes for sale on watchcharts.com complete with a Vaucher designed microrotor movement. Sometimes it’s worth paying a bit more to get a lot more. Vraiment?

1 COMMENT

  1. Quartz is the new automatic, at least inasmuch as it has been replaced or displaced by newer technology, the smart watch. I don’t know if I’d pay three thousand, let alone three hundred for a quartz watch, but the Tissort PRX (and others watches in that space, like Furlan Marri) make more and more sense as a luxury item to me. It allows the wearer, who let’s face it, probably wears a smart watch most of the time, to unplug with something that is nice, but also “ready to go.”

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