Thierry Hermès was born in 1801. The son of an innkeeper, he decided to become a saddler, setting up his workshop in Paris in 1837. The Firm quickly earned a reputation for its quality, and the owners of the finest horses came there for their harnesses and saddles.
His son, Charles-Emile, took over from him in 1859. He in turn was aided by his two sons. By that time, the saddler's had moved to 24 rue du Faubourg St Honoré in Paris – and earned itself an international clientele.
The family Firm developed its business using the name ‘Hermès Frères'. After a trip to the United States, where transport was booming, Emile-Maurice Hermès had the idea of designing luggage and travel accessories and developed new uses for the zip fastener. The latter was as yet unknown in Europe, and Hermès obtained exclusive rights to the device.
In 1912, Émile Hermès had his workshops produce a first wristwatch for his daughter Jacqueline, featuring Hermès' distinctive poetic, minimalist aesthetic appearance. However, it was not until 1928 that the Firm made a long-term move in the direction of watchmaking. It started out by presenting the ‘Ermeto' model, produced by the Swiss manufacture Movado and equipped with an in-house leather fitted case.
By that time, the Hermès brand had also moved into off-the-peg garments, leather goods and jewellery. Favoured by celebrities the world over, in the early 1970s Hermès opened stores on all continents.
On the strength of its successful watchmaking creations, in 1978 the Firm opened its ‘La Montre Hermès' subsidiary in Bienne, and in 2006 acquired a stake in the Vaucher manufacture. In 2006, it also opened a leather strap workshop in Brügg near Bienne.
The Firm is now celebrating a century of watchmaking and pursuing the development of its own watchmaking line, presenting a ladies' version of the Arceau model equipped with a moon's phase complication. The Firm offers affordable models as well as complicated timepieces that maintain Hermès' particular reserved and yet evocative style, with watches such as “Le temps suspendu”, which gives the wearer the illusion of being able to halt the course of time at their whim.