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At the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie last January, one of the most important gatherings in the luxury watch industry, Montre Hermès presented an installation by Hideki Yoshimoto. The Japanese artist created a globe that was nearly 12 feet in diameter, made out of photovoltaic cells. The concept was inspired by the watchmaker’s latest offering, Hermès Arceau l’Heure de la lune—meant to inspire the dream of a cosmic journey.
Whitewall was there to chat with Guillaume de Seynes, executive vice president of Hermès International, about the house’s latest novelties and the role the luxury world can play in saving our planet.
WHITEWALL: This year at SIHH, the centerpiece for the booth was an installation by Japanese artist Hideki Yoshimoto. The large-scale globe was made up of solar cells. Can you tell us about the idea behind the artist installation?
GUILLAUME DE SEYNES: The idea began with the Arceau l’Heure de la lune. The double moon in the Arceau represents everyone—here and there, now and then—looking at that same moon. Naturally, this made me think about the earth, where we are and where we see our moon.
Solar cells were used to make the surface of the earth display—its complex blue color gives a deeper visual aesthetic to the sculpture. More importantly, the use of this special material communicates another message—hope that clean energy will save the planet. This particular solar cell was leftover stock from a factory that we reused for the installation. By giving the wasted material a new life as a piece of art, we hoped that a narrative would arise from there.
WW: How did you see the piece relating to the star of the presentation, the Hermès Arceau l’Heure de la lune?
GDS: It’s a complication enabling simultaneous readings of the moon phases in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. The “Southern” moon appears as someone based in Australia sees it, while the “Northern” moon is depicted as seen by someone in Bruegg (Switzerland). The moons are in mother-of-pearl and the dial in meteorite or aventurine, and the two time and date display subdials move in order to reveal the moon. It expresses a loss of temporal and spatial bearings, an “upside down” environment, a voyage through the cosmos. This watch hints at the existence of another space-time, a deeper interlude . . .
WW: Why was Hermès interested in showcasing the human emotion and connection to the moon?
GDS: This new complication evokes a sense of dreams and emotions. The face of the watch is daily transformed. Its read-off is playful, with counters gravitating around the moons and topsy-turvy moons, because Hermès loves to dream. And who hasn’t dreamed of visiting the stars and the moon?
WW: Within Hermès, what role does the natural world play?
GDS: Hermès is skilled in around 15 métiers that respect and exalt the finest natural materials. It is our duty to ensure sustainable and responsible use of the planet’s resources by preserving, protecting, promoting, tracing, certifying, optimizing, and recycling them.
WW: Sustainability and responsibly sourced materials is a huge conversation today, especially in the luxury market. What conversations are happening at Hermès around sustainability and materials?
GDS: First and foremost, a craftsmanship mindset deeply rooted in-house forges our business model. A sense of responsibility. Never compromising on the quality of know-how and materials. A profound respect for nature, which gives beautiful materials for our products. A profound respect for the skilled men and women who make them. The respect for the time needed to make these beautiful objects.
WW: Hermès is known for playing with the concept of time. How are you playing with it this
GDS: We have a special relationship with time. We are on the long-term perspective of time. It’s true we wanted to translate that feeling in some specific complications. We interpret the moon phase and this as a different way of looking at something which has an influence in our lives—the moon and the lunar calendar. It is a different perspective.
Playfulness is a way to surprise people, and I think it’s very important—it’s even more important because we are an old company. When we launched the Apple Hermès watch, I don’t think people were expecting that from us. But it also has to be sincere. It has to be true. That’s essential.