It’s 2023 and yet again (and surprisingly) I feel Hermès has had one of the best showings at the year’s biggest industry trade show. I remember feeling this same way in 2021 and at the time I wasn’t sure if it was due to me really liking Hermès’ releases that much or that just the bar seemed to be low that year due to poor releases by other brands. This year, I can safely say it’s due to how much I like what Hermès is doing. Touch on a few of what I feel are their highlights this year, they released a beautiful women’s Arceau Petite Lune that I really like, and they announced a number of new H08 models. Among them are a lone chronograph model and four new colourful variants of the standard H08 model. These are definitely some of my favourite watches of Watches & Wonders 2023.
Hermes’ distinctive sports watch features a cushion case made of braided and aluminised glass fibre and slate powder. I’m not exactly sure what that is, but I’m glad Hermès does, because it looks good. The case gains some change in colour and finish by having a bezel and crown both made out of black ceramic. The dial is something that Hermès is calling a “concrete grey” dial, which features lumed applied Arabic numeral indices. I initially went back and forth about it, but I like the typeface of the Arabic numerals on the dial. The matching typeface for the date wheel looks really great too and I like its positioning at 4:30 on the dial. The hour and minute hands are crafted from black gold, while the seconds hand, glass seal, and minutes track are all done in the accent colour specific to the watch: either blue, yellow, orange, or green
The yellow version of this watch looks very similar to the Madison Edition H08 that was released in celebration of Hermès’ new Madison Avenue boutique. The case on that one was made of a different material, so that’s one big distinguishing factor. The Madison Edition paid tribute to the new store by replacing the twelve on the dial with a zero and making the zero, six, and seven yellow, therefore referencing the new store’s address, 706 Madison Avenue. The Madison Avenue version used the colour yellow to evoke New York’s yellow taxis. However, I think this new version actually looks more like New York than the New York version, as not only does the bright yellow match the cabs of New York, but the case itself is reminiscent of the concrete of the “concrete jungle” that is New York City. I much prefer this new model to the Madison Avenue version as the case here, to me at least, is much more interesting than the monotone greyish-black colour one belonging to the special edition version.
Back to the watches at hand, each watch comes on a colour-matched rubber strap with a structured “woven” effect on the outward-facing side of the strap. On the inside, the strap displays a pattern of Hermès’ signature H. I like the fact that Hermès seems to know when to tone down their “Hermèsiness”. The fact that they’re leaving the H pattern to the inside of the rubber strap gives me a good indication that Hermès knows what a real watch enthusiast is looking for in a sports watch… and a watch strap with branding all over the outside is not it. Louis Vuitton could learn something here. Attached to the strap is a satin-brushed and black-DLC-coated titanium folding clasp.
Inside the watch is Hermès’ H1837 automatic movement. A Swiss-made, in-house movement by Hermes with a power reserve of 50 hours. Visible through the sapphire case back is the movement’s decoration of circular-graining and snailing on the mainplate and satin brushing of the bridges and rotor. Hermès also decorates their movement with what they refer to as a “sprinkling of H’s”… which can be seen on the rotor as well as the vast majority of the rest of the movement’s plates. Again, throwing in some “Hermèsiness” without it being in your face on the outside-facing areas of the watch.
As far as my final thoughts go, the H08 was only released in 2021, but their flagship men’s sports watch has made a name for itself with its own unique look that separates it from the rest. Although it’s only been around for two years, it feels to me like it’s already been five with how well established this model is within my mental catalogue of sports watches. While Hermès has put out some really great watches in the past, I’m usually very skeptical when I see a new watch coming from them… usually I assume it will be more of a fashion watch than anything. Especially in a time where most well-known designer fashion brands seem to put out worse and worse designs with higher and higher price tags (and I’m not just talking about watches here). Yes, these new H08 models are fashionable, but they’re not fashion watches. They are serious watches that combine some fashion aspects, but can very much hold their own against competing sports watches. I expect these watches to be very popular for Hermès and the H08 sports watch should continue to gain more and more market share in the coming years if this is how Hermes continues to handle the line.
The new Hermès H08 models in blue, yellow, orange, and green are priced at 8,000 USD each.
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