Hermès marks the first day of Watches and Wonders 2021 by unveiling the backdrop from which it will release its newest watch, the H08. The scenography is the result of a collaboration with two artists, Clément Vieille and Pierre Pauze.

The physical exhibition, in Geneva’s Bâtiment des Forces Motrices, promises to be one of the highlights of this year’s fully digital show. Embodying a digital vision, it is composed of a set of videos and sculptures which explore both time and natural cycles.

Hermes at Watches and Wonders

At the centre of the staging is Hermès’ new watch release, the H08. The watch has been interpreted by the two artists – both from Le Fresnoy postgraduate art and audiovisual research centre – who have broken it down and juxtaposed it against natural elements. Its patterns, once exposed, are explored on 16 screens. ‘Pierre Pauze is passionate about quantum physics, which allows us to see beyond linear temporality. He explores cyclical time and uses natural cycles as the temporal structure of his kinetic art,’ says Laurent Dordet, CEO of La Montre Hermès.

‘Clément Vieille places research and technique at the centre of his creative process, reducing a static structure to its lines of tension and compression.’ Vieille invites visitors into what appears to be an infinite cylinder, with two large mirrors on the floor endlessly reflecting the sculpture.

For Vieille, it was a balancing act between the technology that defines the design and the traditions of hand craftsmanship that characterise Hermès. ‘The watch itself was the initial inspiration but was then interpreted, piece by piece, to fill the whole of the large showcase. In the end, the watch becomes almost imperceptible, but the thousands of translucent sculptures that populate the showcase come from a 3D file of the watch I was given at the beginning of the project. It is omnipresent without one really noticing it.’

Adds Pauze, ‘It was as if it was being infused little by little with ideas of organic and mechanical fluidity. It was at this point that we suggested to Hermès that we merge these energies and resources into two parallel projects. The watch is mostly integrated in fragments and through evocation. The idea was to move away from the usual aesthetic that puts the product first. I think that as a watch is worn, it is also experienced. The work does not replace the watch, and the watch does not replace the work. They thus maintain their respective strengths.’ §

Hermes at Watches and Wonders