Hermes 3000

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Seven years. That’s how long it has been since I reviewed the 3000. I’ve gone through stacks of typewriters over the years, yet the Hermes 3000 is one of the few that left a distinct impression in how it felt, worked and sounded. What’s more, it’s the type of typewriter that gets the juices going. A pre-1960s Erika is another dopamine fix. That’s why I keep an Erika 5 stashed away. While my Lettera 32 is where the work happens, that Erika 5 is a sweet diversion.

Is the Hermes 3000 still up to snuff? The one I got is the “New Version” as Hermes calls it. Really? C’mon, Hermes, that’s the best you could call it? The new version? Why not the 4000? Why Hermes ever went with numbers I’ll never know, when they had great names like “Rocket” and “Ambassador.” It’s too bad Royal had a typewriter called The Empress, because that’s what I would’ve called the 3000!

While the “new version” is more boxy than the original, the curves are still there, but more subtle. I may be going against the Hermes 3000 purists crowd when I say I was never fond of the bulbous contours of the original. The new version looks more elegant and refined, yet retains its distinctive style and color that you’ll never confuse it with an Olympia SM9.

Forget the looks, how does it work?

The typing action of the “new version” feels like what I remembered in the “original version.” They keys are big and cuppy, that it’s hard to miss a beat. The feeling is strong and assertive, producing a nice thunk thunk thunk sound. At first you might feel the need to punch the keys hard, but after playing around a bit with tapping the keys as light as I could, I was amazed how little effort was required to make a strong imprint.

What wouldn’t work with a light touch was the carriage return. It’s heavy. Good thing it has a big handle, because you’ll need all the leverage you can muster. Olympia SM-series and Olivetti Studio 45 & Lettera 32 have Hermes beat on this note. They fly! But hey, perhaps the slower return on the Hermes is by design, makes you pause and take in that beautiful line of prose before charging ahead into the next.

If you’re a frequent margin setter, setting them on the 3000 is a bit tricky at first, but super fast once you get it. Hermes calls them Visible Flying Margins. Gone are the clunky moveable margin tabs found in many other typewriters, in its place are a set of left and right levers that when depressed unlock the margin. Move the carriage to the desired margin location with the carriage release button, then release the lever to set it. Hermes has cleverly indicated the margin location on the paper bail with a red thermometer-like bar, making it The Visible Flying Margin!

Visible, yes, noticeable, not so much. If I hadn’t read the manual, I would’ve missed it. But once in view, it’s especially useful for the right margin, where instead of writing to the bell, you can see exactly where you’re at. I’m more of a write-to-the-bell-and-margin-release guy. I hate hyphenating. The Visible Flying Margin is useful for careful line planning so things are as neat and tidy on the right as they are on the left.

I’ve always struggled with knowing when I’m about to hit the end of a page. Especially when writing exactly One Typed Page! Wrap it up, amigo, you only got two lines left! Shoot for under, never over. To solve this problem, Hermes notched a couple openings on the lower part of carriage on the left and right sides. Through this gap, the bottom of the page comes into view a couple lines before the end. Olympia has the best solution for this with an adjustable page stop on the paper support, allowing the bottom margin to be set wherever. Either way, super useful!

Hermes is in line with an Olympia SM9 and Olivetti Studio 44/45. But it’s way more solid than either and has a distinctive feel and look that’ll beckon you to her keys. The downside, these babies usually go for double or triple the price and good ones are hard to find.

Finally, what makes the 3000 in its own class is the snap-on shell. It’s not like you’ll be tossing it in the caravan and dashing off to Marrakech, but useful for a quick snap-and-stash if your dining table is also your desk.

But if your desk is where it’s at, make it a throne and install The Empress, err I mean, The 3000! Long may she reign!

8 comments

  1. I have noticed on my Hermes 3000 and also read in the typosphere that the platen knobs are the achilles heal of the Hermes 2000 and 3000. Swiss design, not withstanding, the knobs simply dry up and crack. However, a good repair shop can 3-D print and paint with sea foam green to order; a $5 fix. I find the Hermes snappy — and I should do a few days on One Typed Page soon. The curved cover is like out of a sci-fi film, like Journey to the Center of the Earth!

  2. I enjoyed your review, Daniel. Like you, I prefer the 2nd Generation mid-1960’s design over the bulbous earlier model. I have discovered the luxurious feel and capabilities of standard/office typewriters and the majority of my writing is performed on them.
    Amongst the machines are a 1961 Olympia SG1, 1949 Royal KMM and 1949 Underwood Rhythm Touch De Luxe. The portables that make regular visits to my desk are a 1959 Olympia SM3 and a 1967 Hermes 3000 (S6 Pica), as they both have a silky touch, sensational engineering and superior quality registration. After trying my fingers on some 40+ portables, these gems outperform the rest. Thanks for your delightful website and all the effort you put into it. Best, David

  3. The Hermes 2000 also has the carriage notches that you mention here. But (on my 2000) I prefer to use the gradations on the paper support to see how close I am to the end of the page. Odd that the 3000 seems to have removed that feature!

  4. My (1967) Hermes 3000 was given to me by a friend who was working as manager in an uptown thrift shop. Everything was clean and intact – including the brushes attached inside the cover. I didn’t know much about the typewriter 10 years ago, but have come to appreciate its durability and mid-century vibes.

  5. The original version of the Hermes 3000 has long been my dream typewriter, despite never having used one. I just love the curves of it, the seafoam green, and the countless good things I’ve heard about it. The only issue, of course, is pricing. Finding a good one will require being in the right place at the right time for me I suppose. We’ll see!

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