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Hermès - Interview with Laurent Dordet, CEO Hermès Horloger

Hermès Interview with Laurent Dordet, CEO Hermès Horloger

"It’s a year of adaptation and reinvention." "The seriously fanciful approach of Hermès Horloger continues to surprise and appeal."

How would you sum up the year 2020 for Hermès Horloger at this stage?
It's a year full of unexpected events, which forces us to be extremely agile, both during and after lockdown periods. We have to adapt to a world that has changed and to address customers as well the press differently. In every crisis there are opportunities, so it's up to us to reinvent ways of enchanting our customers, sales advisers, collaborators and media partners differently – and not just with virtual tools. In terms of business performance, since June we have been well on the way to emerging from the crisis, but this naturally varies greatly from one country to another. To give a chance to all products – meaning those launched before lockdown and those that were about to be introduced – we postponed everything by four to five months, or even until Watches & Wonders 2021, in the hope of a better and more promising context.

Interview de Laurent Dordet, CEO Hermès Horloger

Laurent Dordet CEO Hermès Horloger © Hermès

The GPHG jury has selected two of your watches among the 2020 nominees; do you know how many times Hermès has been awarded a prize at the GPHG? Which do you see as the most significant award?
Since Hermès has been taking part in the GPHG, our watches have been nominated among the finalists some 20 times, and four of them have been awarded prizes. In my opinion, the first and the last one perfectly sum up the spirit of the Maison in terms of watchmaking. In 2011, Arceau Le temps suspendu marked Hermès' entry into the field of Haute Horlogerie, based on a fantastic story and a philosophical reflection of Hermès time. The award won by Arceau L'heure de la Lune in 2019 is a more graphic and spectacular reflection of Hermès' desire to create an original watch from a basic complication, and to express it in a technically dreamy manner, yet without ever taking itself too seriously. I am also very proud of the Artistic Crafts Prize awarded in 2018 to the Arceau Robe du soir. because this leather marquetry technique was invented by our leather workshop in Bienne; as well as of the Calendar Watch Prize won by our Slim QP in 2015.

How were different stones chosen for the limited series of Arceau L’heure de la lune?
We have two types of stones. One is more linked to Earth, with annual collections presented in our boutique network and focused on aesthetics, as always guided by our Creative Director Philippe Delhotal. The other is made from meteorite, such as for the new Black Sahara. This is about telling an extraordinary story with an incredibly beautiful and rare meteorite, linked to particular places which then guide the manner the encounters between these models and our customers.

Interview de Laurent Dordet, CEO Hermès Horloger

Arceau l'Heure de la Lune Black Sahara © Hermès

The dual-time display on the Slim GMT is quite daring, was it a gamble?
It was indeed at the time of its 2018 launch in a palladium limited edition, but its success prompted us to offer it this time in a gold version within the current collection. We have two types of complication: completely reinvented ones like L’heure de la lune, but which not all customers can afford; as well as more classic complications that are distinguished and enhanced by an original aesthetic. Such is the case of the Slim, whose font has always been a decisive and much appreciated element, and which pushed us to play with its style by displaying a dance of the hours on the GMT dial that others would not have dared to stage. This desire to surprise people with fanciful touches is also demonstrated by the choice of enlivening our new Arceau Pocket Aaaaargh minute repeater pocket watch with the famous tyrannosaurus featured on a Hermès silk scarf!

Interview de Laurent Dordet, CEO Hermès Horloger

Slim GMT © Hermès

Is it important for Hermès to is offering an Arceau Lift with tourbillon and minute repeater this year?
Once again, the initial technical idea has become a stylistic idea in this resolutely signature piece with its horse-head-shaped opening revealing the movement, whose success is proving a very pleasant surprise this year. We are very pleased to see that our most loyal customers, who discovered Hermès Horloger with Le temps suspendu or L’heure de la lune, are once again demonstrating great enthusiasm for this highly complicated timepiece.

Interview de Laurent Dordet, CEO Hermès Horloger

Arceau Lift tourbillon répétition minutes © Hermès

Meanwhile, sports watches appear to be off the field?
We have maintained the sporting inspiration that has characterised certain collections such as the Clipper in the past, but this year there will be no new models in this segment. However, 2021 will see a new line unveiled at Watches & Wonders.

How is your distribution network evolving?
It is composed of 330 Hermès boutiques, of which a hundred or so account for the bulk of watch sales because they have the necessary space. In addition, our network includes 300 retailers accounting for 15% of our sales, of which we will retain around one hundred points of sale over the next three years, notably department stores that perform well in terms of volume and the best watch retailers.


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