With its new Slim d'Hermés watch, Hermès has added a brilliant design tick: the hour markers have been designed by the French graphic designer Philippe Apeloig...As originally featured in (W*196)
Hermès artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas approached Apeloig to create a new font having worked with the graphic designer on the identity redesign of Puiforcat - the Hermés owned silversmith
The fine breaks in the font not only define the watch's light character and the super-slim movement that powers the timepiece, but as with all La Montre Hermes' horological endeavours, there is a gentle humour ticking away
The physical design of the Slim d'Hermés watch is elegant, light and discreet, so there had to be a connection between the font and the movement
'The Slim d'Hermés font is very fine, a combination of straight and curved lines, a single line that is broken, with no difference in thickness. The font is simple, sober,' says Apeloig of the thinking behind his beautiful dial digits
'The watch dial is very small and you have to think of the function, so the font has to create an interesting dialogue between the numbers and the shape. It should not be an effort to see the numbers when you glance at the watch,' says Apeloig of the design parameters of horological dial design
The fine breaks in the font convey a message: 'They represent the "start and stop" of time. The fact that they are not complete creates a kind of attraction, like a magnet that attracts the lines together but also the viewer to look,' explains Apeloig
'Typography is a key part of Hermés,' says Hermès artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas. 'I am always impressed by Philippe's didactic style. His essential approach that says: "what can I take away until it doesn't say anymore?"
'The bezel is designed to give more space on the dial - it left a beautiful space for the typeface,' says Philippe Delhotal, creative director at La Montre Hermés. 'My obsession for 20 years at Hermés was to find a graphic designer who could work on the micro scale watch design demands'
Creativity and talent must come with a fresh eye: Delhotal redesigned Puiforcat brand identity and logo. 'I was very impressed by his didactic style - he decontructs the issues of the brief. That has to be resolved to reach a natural conclusion - a logic. His essential approach is, "What can I take away until it doesn't say anymore?" His is not a formal style - it is a Giacometti approach'
On switching from one design discipline to another, Apeloig says: 'Most of my work inolves type and letters that have to communicate a message - with a watch dial design, you have to invent something; the numbers already exist. Then it is about proportion'
He adds, 'Typography is a balance between shape and emptiness. It has some power as you have to deal with space'
The elegant timepiece is available from Hermes.com in October
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