When Hermès first released its new Hermès H08 Monopusher Chronograph collection in 2021, it was an immediate hit. Sure, it was yet another brand’s take on the whole steel sport watch thing, but it felt like a very honest and totally Hermès take on it all. The shape was different, the numerals were designed in-house, and it featured an automatic movement from Vaucher, a manufacturer in Fleurier partly owned by Hermès.
At Watches & Wonders this year, Hermès introduced its first complication to the Hermès H08 Monopusher Chronograph collection, the H08 Monopusher Chronograph. It skillfully takes the design codes established in the H08’s three-handers and integrates them into a more complicated watch. The case is made of a new composite of carbon fiber and graphene powder that gives the 41mm shape a layered texture and makes it lightweight and comfy on the wrist. The wide bezel is made of titanium that’s brushed in a sunburst pattern; there’s a slightly polished chamfer that breaks up the bezel and mid-case. With 100 meters of water resistance, it’s still a sports watch, too.
It’s always fun to see a monopusher chrono, but it works particularly well from a design-driven firm like Hermès. It leaves the basic design of the H08 mostly undisturbed, with all three functions of the chronograph – start, stop, and reset – built into the single pusher in the crown at 3 o’clock. And even the crown has well-executed details: it’s PVD coated with an orange ring that hints towards its functionality.
It takes only a slight push to activate the chronograph, but it still has a nice, tactile engagement. That’s thanks to a vertical clutch chronograph module from Dubois Dépraz that’s been placed on top of Hermès’ H1837 automatic movement (again, by Vaucher). You’ll see the bridges and rotor decorated with a repeating “H” motif through the sapphire caseback – it’s a detail I’ve always found a little corny, though I suppose it could be worse. The movement beats at 4 hertz and has 46 hours of power reserve.
Nowadays, a monopusher chronograph is an anachronism – and deliberately so – but then again, that applies to the entirety of the mechanical watch. But until 1934, when Willy Breitling invented the two-button mechanism, the monopusher was the only game in town. Nowadays, the functionality of the two-button version – which is easier to use and allows you to stop and then restart timing an event – means that this format vastly outnumbers that of the monopusher. Still, a monopusher has a sort of antiquated appeal for those of us with a tendency to view the past through rose-colored glasses. With the H08 Chronograph, the monopusher feels like a choice driven primarily by design and the desire to maintain symmetry. But it’s a nice, nostalgic touch for a watch that otherwise feels thoroughly modern.
The dial takes many of the cues from the existing Hermès H08 Monopusher Chronograph collection but adapts these for a chronograph by placing a 30-minute counter at 9 o’clock. The grained finish that gives the H08 a more industrial look is still on the dial but is now reserved for just the hour track and subdials. The font is familiar, too, with the 0 and the 8 serving as inspiration for the case of the H08 itself. There’s the ever-controversial date window 4:30 – again, it uses Hermès font, and at least it blends in, with the date wheel rendered in the same matte grey as the dial. Always one to play with colors, the accents of the hands and hour markers are in Hermès’ signature orange, which matches the comfortable rubber strap. The strap also has a textured weave pattern in the middle, a wink towards Hermès’ history of craftsmanship. High-end rubber straps are a world in themselves, but I think Hermès’ H08 strap is perhaps the best execution this side of the Aquanaut’s grenade strap.
Alongside the chronograph, Hermès also released four new colors (blue, orange, green, yellow) of its three-hander H08 in a new, glass fiber composite case. Compared to the chronograph, these 39mm watches were more my style, in size, function, and wearability (the new composite material feels even lighter than the existing H08 options). For me, the shape of the H08 case works better at the 39mm size and starts to feel a bit wide with the chronograph. Further, the module build of the chronograph means this isn’t exactly a thin watch – we didn’t get that measurement from Hermès, but after wearing it a bit (and with the standard H08 measuring 10.6mm), I’d bet it’s around 13mm. But the lightweight case material and rubber strap combo make it super easy-wearing. I appreciate Hermès building out its sport watch collection, and starting with a well-executed chronograph certainly makes sense.
Unfortunately for those looking to pick up the new Hermès H08 Monopusher Chronograph, it won’t be available until sometime in 2024. It’ll have a retail price of about $15,000. It’s a punchy ask – about the same as the new Daytona, for example – but with the insides from Vaucher and the outsides distinctly Hermès, it doesn’t feel out of line with the rest of the market. And from a fashion-forward house, I wouldn’t imagine that this is necessarily being cross-shopped with what we’d think of as its traditional chronograph competition. Still, I think the original H08 collection found an audience because it represents such a value proposition compared to its sport watch competition. A touch over $5,000 (in titanium), and readily available? It’s an easy sell.
While the new H08 Chronograph might not represent quite the same value proposition, it’s a worthy addition to one of the few genuinely new sport watch collections of the past few years.