Gut Reaction Reviews – First Look At The New Hermès H08 Collection From Watches & Wonders 2021
Editor’s note: Like you, we are also excited for the releases from the Watches & Wonders 2021. Before we get to dive deep into the releases and go hands-on with as many of these as the two of us here can, here’s our preview and the Gut Reaction Review (Grr…) of the new Hermès H08. For our other detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
Over the years I have come to realise that I have a couple of major soft-spots when it comes to watches: big dates and concentric chapter rings (not azurage)/sector-style dials. Watches & Wonders 2021 has so far blessed us with two stylistic models featuring the latter: the new Chopard L.U.C. QF Jubilee (reviewed here) and the new Hermès H08 collection.
Not kidding, my first reaction was that I was in a time capsule and visiting the 70s/80s. And in a good way. Presented in the choice of three materials — titanium, black DLC-coated titanium and graphene with ceramic — the cushion-shaped with a rounded square silhouette case and the split-into-three-segments dial architecture are what reeled me in.
Besides the cool, understated appeal, I also admire that the timepiece is a collaborative effort, pooling together the resources of Parmigiani’s sister brand Vaucher (for movements), case maker Joseph Erard Holding and Natéber (for dials). Since Hermès has a stake in Vaucher — it has also provided movements to Richard Mille in the past — the new Hermès H08 Collection features a Hermès Manufacture movement, calibre H1837 (loosely based on the ETA 2892).
My next reaction was that I have seen these watches somewhere. And not the Bell & Ross-esque connection one can make at a superficial glance. No, I am talking about a connection from within the brand itself. And then it dawned; we have seen this movement and case back design a decade ago in Hermès Dressage L’heure masquée H1837 Automatic watches from Baselworld 2012. The case was bigger back then coming in at 40.5mm but maintained the same bevelled tonneau-shaped sensual silhouettes.
Not that this takes away from the new Hermès H08 Collection from Watches & Wonders 2021. The new variants stand tall on their own design merits, which are many, and quite frankly, if I am being honest with you, I prefer these over the Hermès Dressage timepieces, especially thanks to the smaller diameter and the dark, brooding aesthetic that with its no-nonsense highly legible dials simply rules. The new H08 also features a more squared-off case compared to the oval-partial case of the Dressage.
Come to think of it, Hermès has been playing with various permutations a and combinations of the ‘H’ mixing with a circle mixing with an oval look for a while now — Cape Cod, Carre H, and Heure H collections meet Arceau — and I reckon this is the best combo yet. Clean, bold, different, yet somewhat iconic of the brand.
Dimensions wise, it is 39mmx 39mm, the exact same size as the Heuer Monaco. And to give credit where due, its distinctive cushion-shaped design manages to delineate the two to such an extent that I didn’t even realise that technically on-paper H08 and Monaco are very similar watches.
The new Hermès H08 Collection is launched in three variants, all with the same internal engine, dial execution and case shape. The primary difference is in the materials and even though it’s a small tweak, it somehow lends a very distinctive characteristic to each.
Black graphene with black ceramic bezel
This is my favourite of the lot (and also happens to be the most expensive of the three, retailing for 8’900 USD). This regular production release features the Hermès Manufacture H1837 movement measuring 25.60mm x 3.7mm and comprises of 28 jewels, beats at the standard frequency of 4Hz, and offers a 50-hour power reserve.
The movement is encased inside an ultra-light graphene-filled composite
39mmx 39mm cushion-shaped case with sunburst satin-brushed ceramic bezel with mirror-polished chamfers. The case has a rather tiny screw-down ceramic crown and an antiglare treated sapphire crystal.
Even though all versions feature the same Arabic numerals, and hour and minute hands are treated with Super-LumiNova, and a central seconds hand featuring a Hermès orange arrow tip and a rather weird counterweight, there are some subtle differences.
This version besides the case material is also distinguished by the inclusion of black elements including a black rubber strap with titanium butterfly clasp and a black-tinted sapphire case-back.
The black gold-coated dial features black nickel-coated applied Arabic numerals and back circular satin-brushed minutes disc with grey transferred minutes track and a finely grained centre with black nickel-coated hands.
Black DLC coated titanium with titanium bezel
This regular production release features the exact same specifications.
The difference is more aesthetic and is rather a flip of the previous version. Here the dial is now black nickel-coated and features black nickel-coated applied Arabic numerals and black gold-coated circular satin-brushed minutes disc with white transferred minutes track and a finely grained centre with black nickel-coated hands
Titanium case and bezel
This regular production release again features the exact same specifications.
Here the dial is black nickel-coated with rhodium-plated applied Arabic numerals and black gold-coated circular satin-brushed minutes disc with transferred white minutes track and a finely grained centre with rhodium-plated hands
“Mingling taut and flowing lines, robustness and delicacy, the Hermès H08 watch is firmly embedded in the men’s universe of the house”.
Just a couple of things here: I pretty much like them how they are, but a slightly increased power-reserve would be welcome. Also, why, oh why, is there a 4.30 date window?!
That’s All Folks!
The fluid case is really the star here; anywhere you look, cases are defined, whether be it Franck Muller’s tonneau or Cartier’s Santos square, every watch case is rigid. Nothing wrong or right with that, just having a fluid case is rare. And welcome. And is also reminiscent of iconic Hermès silk scarves that may drape in a very similar fluid fashion.
To find out more about the new Hermès H08 Collection and their other watches, please head to their website here. You can also purchase these watches now via Mr Porter here. All images unless otherwise specified are © Hermès 2021. All rights reserved. Please be sure to check out our reviews of other Watches & Wonders 2021 releases here.