By Rebecca Doulton in Madrid
Hermès has a fascinating relationship with time. From the magical Le Temps Suspendu watch, which allows the wearer to pause time at will, to the secret Médor watch collection, which returns in vibrant colours this autumn, Hermès has a unique talent for embellishing time.
Known as the company that "speaks with its hands", founder Thierry Hermès began making harnesses and bridles in 1837 catering to the equestrian obsessions of the day. His leather goods were of superlative quality and over time would make their way from the exclusive domain of horse carriages to cover a universe of luxury goods.
Guillaume de Seynes, executive vice-president of Hermès and sixth generation member of the Hermès family, recalls how the leather goods company started making wristwatches thanks to the fame of its straps. The first unofficial wristwatch appeared in 1912: "My grandmother, Jacqueline Hermès was a very lively young girl so her father decided to strap her pocket watch to her wrist with a pigskin strap," explains de Seynes.
The Hermès Médor watch for women, like so many Hermès creations, was inspired by one of the brand's first products: the dog collar. If horses were to be regaled with beautifully finished leather tack, the reasoning goes, why couldn't man's best friend wear a lovely leather collar? The bold, leather-studded collars soon migrated to the waistline as fashion-forward women of the 1930s emphasised their silhouettes with these eye-catching, dramatic belts.
In 1993, the leather strap, with its "Clous de Paris" pyramid-shaped studs, caught the eye of a designer at Hermès and was transformed into a secret watch. The new Hermès watches, available in two sizes, Mini and PM, with rose gold or stainless steel studs, is the closest thing to genteel punk in the watch world.
Ostensibly a bracelet with three pronounced studs, the largest pyramid in the centre opens to reveal the opaline silvered dial of the watch, which is powered by a Swiss quartz movement. With a choice of diamond settings and strap colours with names like red agate, raspberry, Havana, ember, geranium and elephant grey, the hardest part might well be choosing the leather strap for your secret Hermès watch.