Slim d’ Hermès L’Heure Impatiente: The Perfect Parking Meter Timer

Slim d’ Hermès L’Heure Impatiente

Slim d’ Hermès L’Heure Impatiente

In the press kit to introduce the new Slim d’ Hermès L’Heure Impatiente, Hermès included a short story it commissioned about a woman who lives five seconds in the future, with hilarious and tragic consequences. It is not an exact metaphor for the way the L’Heure Impatiente alters time, but it does capture the spirit of time tweaking. The L’Heure Impatiente can be set to count down from an “eagerly awaited event” to take place sometime in the next 12 hours. This time set by the wearer and appears on the subdial at 6 o’clock. A countdown begins one hour before the event in question, and that is displayed on the retrograde timer at 7 o’clock. When time is up, the watch chimes a single note.

Slim d’ Hermès L’Heure Impatiente

Slim d’ Hermès L’Heure Impatiente

Hermès sees this as a poetic complication: “Rather than measuring, ordering, and seeking to control [time], Hermès dares to explore another time.” For me, it is the perfect parking meter watch. Before going into a meeting, you can set the timer to ring when your parking meter expires, and as the meeting progresses you can keep tabs on the countdown. As you approach the “event” you can either duck out to put more coins in the meter or orchestrate the meeting to end in time to avoid getting a ticket. Thus, this is very useful function.

Placing the gong on the Slim d’ Hermès L’Heure Impatiente.

Placing the gong on the Slim d’ Hermès L’Heure Impatiente.

The last time Hermès played games with the passage of time was with the Arceau Le Temps Suspendu, using a movement designed by Jean-Marc Weiderrecht of Agenhor, based on Hermès Caliber H1912. It featured a function that could make time stand still and then revert to the correct time at the push of a button. The L’Heure Impatiente also contains a movement based on the automatic Caliber H1912, fitted with a 2.2mm module that drives the striking countdown feature. The 40.5mm case of the Slim d’ Hermès L’Heure Impatiente is rose gold, with anti-reflective sapphire crystals front and back. It is water resistant to 30 meters. The strap is blue matt alligator.

Baselworld 2018 Will Be Two Days Shorter; Ongoing Declines Plague Swiss Watch Industry

Baselworld 2017 opening day.

Baselworld, the annual watch and jewelry show in Basel, Switzerland, will run for six days instead of eight days next year, in the wake of lower attendance and declining sales in the Swiss watch industry. The decision comes on the heels of the 2017 show, which ended March 27. The fair officially hosted 200 fewer exhibitors (a drop of 13.3%) and for next year, there will be at least one defection by a major brand – Hermès – which announced it will join the Geneva Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, held in January. In a post-show statement, Sylvie Ritter, managing director of Baselworld, said “the industry is currently going through a challenging phase, which particularly affects smaller companies. Listening to our exhibitors and in agreement with the members of the different committees, we have decided to reduce the duration of the show and adjust the prices accordingly.” Baselworld 2018 will be held from Thursday 22 to Tuesday 27 March 2018.

Hermès will decamp for SIHH next year.

The reduced presence at Baselworld is a reflection of the state of the industry, rather than the show itself. Following two straight years of decline, global exports of Swiss watches have continued to tank for the first two months of 2017. According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH), exports declined 10% in the month of February, with a 26.2% decline in exports to the crucial U.S. market. In 2016, the value of Swiss exports stood at 19.4 billion Swiss francs, which is 9.9% lower than in 2015. “With this result, the industry has returned to its 2011 level and seen an end to the growth of 15% achieved between 2011 and 2014,” says the FH. If the two-year decline becomes a straight three-year decline, it will be the first time such a long slump has occurred since the 1980s, the height of the quartz crisis.

There are more than 2,000 exhibitors at Basel, and the fair is attended by 106,000 visitors.

Industry expert Joe Thompson of Watch Time magazine, who has been covering the industry for more than three decades, says the situation is worrisome. “Even the great recession of ’09 only lasted a year; we have just had two straight years of decline, and first the two months of this year are off to a bad start. So, if it hasn’t hit bottom, then it’s getting serious.” The reasons for the current downturn are more complex than the quartz crisis that edged out mechanical watchmakers in the ’70s and ’80s. Significant forces have plagued the industry over the past two years. The boom in China during the 2000s has been stifled by the Chinese government’s crackdown on luxury gift-giving, resulting in a 50% drop in exports to Hong Kong over the past four years. Currency fluctuations have also had a negative effect, particularly the strong Swiss franc, and declining tourism in the U.S. and Europe for political reasons have curtailed luxury shopping.

Evening rush hour at Baselworld 2017.

The result is a watch industry that is overstocked and, many say, overpriced, resulting in a surge in the grey market. Richemont, whose brands include Cartier, Piaget and Vacheron Constantin, bought back millions of euros in inventory from retailers in 2016, and cut 200 jobs from its watchmaking staff. As for coping strategies, companies have been reducing prices and revising product development strategies, boosting lower-priced categories and putting the brakes on new high-horology showpieces, a trend that was evident at this year’s Baselworld fair.