Jimmy Kontomanolis | June 17, 2019 | Style & Beauty
The Heure H, the Cape Cod, the Kelly—all are coveted watches in the wonderful world of Hermès. And now the iconic luxury brand’s latest launch, the aptly titled Galop d’Hermès, is bound to become a must-have for the well-heeled. Designed by Nigerian-American (he was born and raised in Pasadena) Ini Archibong, a Switzerland-based wunderkind most well-known for his furniture and lighting designs, the Galop d’Hermès draws inspiration from the brand’s rich history in the equestrian world.
We chatted with Archibong at Hermès’ Rodeo Drive store, where he was being toasted for the new timepiece, to discuss how the Galop d’Hermès was born, his longtime dream of designing for the maison, and how collaborating with the brand resulted in an instantly classic silhouette.
For Archibong, the process was not as simple as the spark of an idea, but rather learning about the Hermès brand and its identity. An identity that “would be unchanging no matter how much the brand evolves,” he says. “So it was really about going to the roots of Hermès and the impetus that started the trajectory of Hermès turning into the brand that it is today.” Those roots being most notably in the equestrian world, which eventually evolved into the details that make the watch unique, from its stirrup shape to the idea of “running numbers around and the idea of speed with the numerals and the dial.”
During the development process of the Galop d’Hermès, Archibong had the opportunity to visit the Hermès Conservatoire and Museum. “I feel like the Conservatoire was really more educational in the sense that you have the opportunity to see the things that have been made and take an intuitive approach into the history of Hermès. And it’s really about the brand,” he says, “whereas the Museum was more about the spirit of a very specific moment in time in the history of Hermès, and seeing what Emile Hermès was collecting gave me a bit of insight into how the personality evolved to encapsulate some of the ideas that reach more people culturally.” Part of this process was Archibong’s realization that at the heart of the equestrian world was the stirrup, and that the shape of the stirrup never changed, only the materials that different designers used did, ultimately leading to the Galop d’Hermès' timeless shape.
“My hope was to make a watch that, if you know the process, you would be able to understand that it would have been very difficult and impossible to make before the technology we have now,” Archibong says. “I wanted it to have an aesthetic that if it were transported back in time 100 years, it would look beautiful then as well, and hopefully 100 years from now, it will look beautiful as well. I would hope that it’s place in time is only marked by the technology that was necessary to make it.”
Like many design students, for Archibong, Hermès was always the “holy grail,” so to achieve that goal is a dream come true. And while the working process was an amazing experience for him, “the dreamy part is really now, where I’m walking into the store where I have my windows here with watches in them.” And what exactly was the process of designing for the maison like? It all started with a discussion in 2015 that led to various designs that didn’t initially work. “It was an evolution where I designed some things, we’d do a back and forth, and get to the point where we were so close to it.” From $3,950, 434 N Rodeo Dr, 310-278-6440, hermes.com
Photography by: Hermès, Mel Bles and Joel Von Allmen