Slim D'Hermès Email Grand Feu
In 2015, the Maison Hermès launched two new models in its Slim d’Hermès collection: the Slim d’Hermès Manufacture, equipped with the ultra-thin H1950 movement, as well as the Slim d’Hermès Perpetual Calendar. Both were available with a 39.5 mm diameter, as well as in slimmer 32 mm and 25 mm diameters intended for women.
Hermès is now reinterpreting these models with the rare and demanding skill of Grand Feu enameling. Crafting it calls for a set of delicate, stringent operations. The first stage consists in placing on a copper plate two tiny ‘feet’ that will subsequently serve to affix the dial to the movement. Having placed the plate on a curved wooden supporting base, the artisan rubs the surface to condense,
The first stage consists in placing on a copper plate two tiny ‘feet’ that will subsequently serve to affix the dial to the movement. Having placed the plate on a curved wooden supporting base, the artisan rubs the surface to condense, rigidify and trim it down to a final thickness of just 0.2 mm. This process gives it the robustness required to avoid any warping that would cause the glass enamel to crack. The copper disk is then coated on both sides with an inflammable liquid. Using a fine brush, the enameller then applies
This process gives it the robustness required to avoid any warping that would cause the glass enamel to crack. The copper disk is then coated on both sides with an inflammable liquid. Using a fine brush, the enameller then applies thin regular dusting of white enamel powder, before firing it in a kiln heated to 830°C, which is why this technique is known as “grand feu” (high heat).
The liquid and the enamel powder catch light immediately, leaving the enamel power to melt and adhere to the copper surfaces. The artisan repeats the same operations of coating, dusting and firing five or six times until the enamel is perfectly smooth and shiny. The pristine white enamel thus adorns the three dial levels: a first circle bearing the hour-markers, another circle in the center, and finally a tiny small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock.
The technique used to transpose the hour-markers onto the white disk calls for the use of a gelatine pad, which the artisan uses to transfer black enamel paste onto the immaculate white enamel. A new firing operation is required to set the inscriptions into place on the dial. Then comes the most delicate phase, during which the artisan perfects the circumference of the enameled disk, hand-filing the edges and thus creating angles so that all the parts will fit together smoothly, accurately and firmly.
After eight hours of work, the three parts of the dial are soldered to pewter, according to their specific nature, in order to form the Slim d’Hermès Émail grand feu.
Slim D'Hermès Manufacture
The new interpretations of the Slim d’Hermès Manufacture pay tribute to the saddle- and harness-making expertise of the Maison Hermès. In addition to the quest for pure, restrained lines reflecting a graphic art approach, these watch models feature a typography that is a first for the Manufacture, a combination of understatement, classicism and light, airy design. The outline of the Arabic numerals follows the natural function of a watch, thereby accentuating the legibility of the time by dispensing with anything superfluous. The dial surface is also composed of three parts, with a circle for the hours, another circle in the center and then a tiny small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock.
A new feature of these models is that the ladies’ versions of the Slim d’Hermès Manufacture now come with vividly colorful alligator straps – sapphire blue, elephant grey, geranium, cassis or black – adorning versions including some set with 66 white diamonds. The men’s models are enhanced by a slate grey dial and fitted with a matching alligator strap, or a night blue dial with an indigo strap. Crafted in the Maison Hermès leather workshops, these straps with their captivating shades stem from meticulous work guided by the Hermès saddle- and harness-making expertise.
Like the Slim d’Hermès Émail grand feu, the Slim d’Hermès Manufacture, is powered by an ultra-thin Manufacture Hermès H1950 movement. At just 2.6 mm thick, this caliber drives the hours, minutes and seconds, as well as ensuring a 42-hour power reserve for this precious timepiece combining elegance with horological precision. The finishes are all crafted in keeping with the finest watchmaking traditions, as epitomized by the hand-chamfered bridges. Like all Hermès in-house movements, the H1950 caliber is adorned with a ‘sprinkling of Hs’” motif.
This article by Isabelle Guignet originally appeared on GMT.com