In 1837 the master saddler Thierry Hermès founded a business producing bridles in Paris. The company added luggage, bags, and document wallets over time. In 1928, the first watch bearing the Hermès name appeared, and many more were produced for the company by Swiss watchmakers over the following decades, including Movado, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, and Rolex.
Hermès founded La Montre Hermès SA in Biel in 1978 to produce watches for the company’s expanding retail network. The company’s iconic Clipper line was introduced in 1981, featuring a porthole-shaped bezel. The company’s lineup expanded in the 1990s with the Cape Cod (1991), Medor (1993), and H-Hour (1997), but it was the double-wrap strap introduced in 1998 on a Cape Cod model that cemented the brand’s reputation.
Hermès expanded in 1999 in an effort to compete with other luxury houses like Chanel and Louis Vuitton in horology. The 2003 introduction of the Dressage, with a Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier movement, presaged the October 2006 acquisition of a 25% stake in that company by Hermès.
The next decade saw more technical development for Hermès. In 2001, the Arceau Temps Suspendu watch was introduced, with a playful “time stop” period on the dial. Another playful model, the Dressage L’Heure Masquée, hides the hour hand until a button is pressed. 2012 saw the launch of Cal. H1837 and Cal. H1912, two custom watch movements for the Dressage and Arceau Écuyère. Hermès also acquired dial specialist Natéber SA in La Chaux-de-Fonds that year, and added watch case maker Joseph-Erard SA in Le Noirmont the next year. 2015 saw the launch of the Hermès Slim.
Hermès has won three prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève prizes: The Arceau le Temps Suspendu won the Men’s Watch Prize in 2011, the Slim d’Hermès QP won the Calendar Watch Prize in 2015 and the Arceau Robe du soir won the Artistic Crafts Watch Prize in 2018.