Up Close: Hermès H08 Automatic

Design and quality.

Unveiled at Watches & Wonders 2021, the H08 is an all-new men’s watch from Hermès. Featuring a cushion-shaped case and a Vaucher movement, the H08 is typical of Hermes in its restrained, thoughtful styling exemplified by the custom typography.

Hermès described the H08 at its launch as a relatively affordable, everyday watch with a simple, high-quality execution – which is accurate. Though it comes from a brand better known for its handbags and scarves, the H08 is a watch done well in many ways.

Initial thoughts

The H08 is surprisingly appealing in the metal. Slim and lightweight, it has a design that is interesting despite being simple. And its technical credentials are solid, albeit not fancy, with the H1837 movement inside being a Vaucher calibre.

Although the H08 does evoke other watch designs, it still manages to look original. And it does look like a Hermes product, which might be important to some buyers, thanks to the touch of orange in the seconds hand that remains discreet enough to suit those who don’t care for obvious emblems.

The H1837

Characterised by geometric shapes, the styling is modern while incorporating accents that illustrate Hermes’ traditional attention to detail. The font used for the hour numerals, for instance, was designed specifically for the H08 and echoes the cushion shape of the case. And the same font is used for the date, ensuring perfect consistency in its typography (though it does impact legibility of the date somewhat).

On the surface, the most interesting H08 is the version in graphene composite, which is palpably lightweight thanks to the novel case material. But it costs a quarter more than the titanium version, which is actually more appealing in the metal, especially on the bracelet.

The H08 with a graphene composite case

And in titanium

Thin enough that it isn’t too weighty, the bracelet feels good and wears well. It is also well priced at only US$600 over the base model on a strap, while the graphene-composite version is an US$2,900 extra.

With the base-model H08 starting at US$6,000, it is a reasonable proposition considering the quality of build. The value it offers is comparable to similarly-priced watches from mainstream watch brands, though not to the level of value champions like Tudor. But the H08 has the added appeal of good design, which clearly sets it apart from the competition.

From left: Titanium on bracelet, graphene composite, and DLC-coated titanium

Rounded square

The H08 feels like a compact watch, although it’s still 39 mm by 39 mm, which is hardly small. At a little under 11 mm high, it is notably slim, which gives the case an elegant profile despite the sporty-ish design.

There are hints of the Cartier Santos and Bell & Ross BR 05 in the design, but the H08 avoids looking derivative with a careful mix of shapes, finishes, and typography. Although it’s just for 12 numbers on the dial, the custom font has a major impact on the design; it is integral to the style of the watch, which would look decidedly ordinary if the numerals were in a commonplace font.

Another of its notable characteristics is the case finish, which like the numerals enhances the design. The bezel is done particularly well. It is radially brushed, which accentuates the numerals around the dial, but the innermost edge of the bezel is mirror polished, giving it a bit of refinement.

Materials

The priciest version of the H08 is all black, combining a graphene composite case matched with a bezel coated in diamond-like carbon (DLC).

An allotrope of carbon, graphene is made up of layers of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb. In practical terms, that means graphene is light and strong.

The H08 with a composite case gets an all-black look thanks to dark grey lume

Like all carbon-based composites, graphene mixed with a polymer to create a composite that can be milled into the case. Essentially a high-tech plastic, graphene composite is similar to the various composites used for the watch cases of ultra high-end sports watches from the likes of Richard Mille.

The layered nature of graphene composite is visible on the lower edge of the case

The H08 in graphene composite is way more affordable than a Richard Mille, but at US$8,900 it costs too much more than its counterparts in titanium, which start at US$6,000.

It’s hard to justify the price of the graphene-composite model. While its lightness and all-black look have strong appeal, especially for a sports watch, the H08 in graphene composite feels more expensive than it should be.

Comparable in appearance to the graphene composite model is the version in two-tone titanium. This has a titanium case coated in DLC matched with a brushed titanium bezel in its natural colour. Like its composite sibling, this version is available only on a strap, which makes it similarly light, but far more affordable.

The best value amongst the H08 models is the version on a bracelet. Modelled on the case shape, the bracelet is a good fit for the case, both in terms of design and size.

In terms of finishing, the bracelet is resembles the case, with a mix of polished and brushed surfaces. Again, it works well with the design, though I would have done away with the polished centre links in favour of a more restrained, all-brushed finish.

The only bit that feels out of place is the clasp, which is quite wide, because the bracelet doesn’t taper.

It’s worth noting that the bracelet includes half links, which will be useful in achieving a good fit since the full-sized links are large and the clasp has no micro-adjustment feature.

Fonts

The cushion-shaped case sets the tone for the rest of the design; the same form can be found on the numerals and hands – even the counterweight of the seconds hand is shaped like the case.

Geometric in form with a hint of Bauhaus, the font works for the modern, sporty design. And the numerals are large enough that legibility is good.

\

One of the elements that attests to the careful design is the date, a typically neglected detail in most watches. The date is rendered in the same font as the hour numerals, making it a perfect fit.

That said, the style of the date might sometimes make it difficult to distinguish between certain numerals. Six and eight, for instance, might be mistaken for one another at a glance. Still, the visual appeal of the typography of the date outweighs the possible impact on legibility.

Vaucher powered

Inside the H08 is the H1837, an automatic movement widely used by Hermes in its men’s watches. Like many of Hermes’ mechanical calibres, it comes courtesy of Vaucher, the respected movement maker that’s a sister company of Parmigiani.

Specifically, the H1837 is the VMF 3000, a smallish and thin movement that’s just 3.7 mm high. It has a good-enough 50-hour power reserve.

Like all Vaucher movements in watches at this price point, the VMF 3000 has a refined construction and workmanlike finishing. Its decoration is all done by machine, but done neatly and carefully. All the bridges have bevelled edges, while the jewels sit in countersinks.

The Hermes version of the calibre is decorated with a neatly-stamped, repeating “H” motif – decidedly non-traditional, but one that suits the watch. Importantly, the “H” pattern manages to be different – and obviously Hermes – without taking anything away from the clean finish of the movement.

Concluding thoughts

Fashion and leather goods houses like Hermes, or even peers like Chanel and Louis Vuitton, don’t often get respect as watchmakers. But they make tangibly good watches, and the H08 is an example of that.

It possesses the brand’s house style of restraint mixed with distinctive details. At the same time, all of its elements, from the dial to case, are excellent quality, particularly for the price.


Key facts and price

Hermes H08
Ref. W049427WW00 (titanium on bracelet)
Ref. W049433WW00 (graphene composite)
Ref. W049428WW00 (titanium with DLC coating)

Diameter: 39 mm by 39 mm
Height: 10.96 mm
Material: Titanium or graphene composite
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: H1837
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 50 hours

Strap: Rubber or fabric webbing; brushed titanium version also available with matching bracelet

Availability: At Hermes boutiques
Price:
Titanium on strap – US$6,000; or 7,900 Singapore dollars
DLC titanium on strap – US$6,200; or 8,300 Singapore dollars
Titanium with bracelet – US$6,600; or 8,800 Singapore dollars
Graphene composite – US$8,900; or 13,000 Singapore dollars

For more, visit Hermes.com.


 

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Hermès Introduces the H08 Automatic

A smartly executed watch.

Hermes Presents Slim d'Hermes Exhibition in Singapore

"Orchestration of Time" is a compact showcase dedicated to the Slim d'Hermes wristwatch.

Limited editions watches by Cartier for Singapore