Since the introduction of its first in-house mechanical movements in 2012, French luxury goods manufacturer Hermès has progressively moved to improve upon some of their most established designs while serving up interesting new products. For Baselworld 2017, which is much closer than you think, the brand is introducing a new line of four Hermès Cape Cod watches for men featuring an assortment of dial and strap combinations that deliver a variety of visual updates to choose from. While the Cape Cod design has endured for over 25 years, these new models offer a chance to explore some of these visual updates, while briefly considering where high fashion brands like Hermès fall within the watchmaking spectrum.
While the debate over fashion house legitimacy in the world of horology rages on, pieces like the Hermès Slim D’Hermès Quantième Perpétuel Platine demonstrate the brand can easily hold its own. When taking a look at the most recent in-house Hermès Cape Cod TGM models, I also can’t help but compare it to another fashion-centric favorite of mine – the Cartier Tank. Still, the new Hermès Cape Cod watches for men bring something a little more youthful and creative to the mix with their “square inside a rectangle” designs and the kind of versatility that centers around some of the best straps and leatherwork in the business.
The flagship model of the collection is the Hermès Cape Cod TGM Manufacture. It features a mechanical self-winding movement, and it’s also the most visually conservative out of the bunch. The Hermès H1912 is an in-house 28-jewel automatic caliber that operates at 28,800 vibrations per hour (4Hz), offers 50 hours of power reserve, and delivers a simple time-only display with a date. There’s a range of finishing that Hermès carries out and this includes circular graining and snail patterns on the mainplate along with the brand’s signature “H” engravings on the bridges and the rotor.
It’s a thin movement coming in at just 3.7mm thick and 23.9mm in diameter, and it’s fitting for a watch of this size. Like some of the other movements used in Hermès watches, it was developed by movement supplier Vaucher, which is 25% owned by Hermes and 75% owned by the Sandoz family (who own Parmigiani). On the other hand, the Hermès Cape Cod TGM Bicolore, Hermès Cape Cod TGM Cadran laque, and Hermès Cape Cod TGM Bracelet de force models all feature basic Swiss-made quartz movements in place of the in-house mechanical caliber.
Also new is your motion. Inside the watch is the Hermès caliber H1912 automated movement — produced for the brand from Vaucher, which Hermès also owns. The movement can be looked at through a sapphire crystal caseback window, also works in 4Hz with 50 hours of power reserve. With this particular watch it provides only the time with minutes, hours, and also fundamental seconds.Hermès apparently wants the Carré H for a little more of a mainstream version — and why not? I suggest that the Carré H case layout is amazing, and not one of the other more rectangle or square watches out of Hermès are too attractive for guys. The Carré H is masculine but also a shape that lots of brands would love to say they have a winning watch in. Just a few brands can assert that, and Hermès clearly needs their very own popular non-round men’s watch too.The Carré H for 2018 dial design is lively, and comes in both black or gray with either a red or yellow-colored seconds hand. Hermès was clearly trying to be a bit different here and succeeded in making a dial which seems both distinctive and modern. But, they didn’t appear to be able to design a square dial to get a square case. I wouldn’t predict the 2018 Carré H dial an instant classic, but it’s satisfying and attractive.The palms are fine looking and the various dial patterns and amounts are eye-pleasing. I’d have enjoyed the layout to include longer palms, and on that note I believe that the hour and minute hands are too similar in size so as to be visually distinguished from one another with immediate simplicity. Price for the 2018 Carré H watch is more reasonable than the 2010 limited edition, but it would have been nice to find the titanium case return. Attached to the straps are (obviously) beautiful quality Hermès Barenia leather straps in either brown or black to match the dial tone.
All of the Hermès Cape Cod models feature rectangular stainless steel cases that measure 33mm in diameter. Dial options are plentiful and the Hermès Cape Cod TGM Manufacture is available in blue, black, anthracite, or opaline silvered configurations. Carrying on with its minimal theme, the layout delivers a clean look with rhodium-coated hands, a textured center seconds display, and playful rhodium-coated Arabic numerals that are raised and portray a design that isn’t typical with most watches in this genre. While it’s true that the Hermès Cape Cod TGM Manufacture is the most mechanically interesting in the group, the quartz models bring their own unique flavor to the mix. The Cape Cod TGM Cadran laque, for example, offers a beautifully lacquered dial option (cadran laqué = “lacquered dial” in French) in two graded shades of brown and deep red.
The sportiest of the quartz versions is definitely the Hermès Cape Cod TGM Bracelet de force. Like the TGM Manufacture, it features an opaline silvered dial but it comes on a more aggressive and burly bund strap that’s chock full of the meticulous saddle stitching Hermès is known for. This detailed approach to leatherwork is also present in the Hermès Cape Cod TGM Bicolore, which features a two-tone smooth calfskin strap combining “Malta blue” with “Hermès red” or “étoupe.”
While it can be difficult to move past the deeply rooted discrimination against fashion brands, the latest efforts from Hermès are indicative of a company that is truly pursuing advancements in their own watchmaking story. In 2012, the brand even purchased Natéber S.A., a Swiss dial maker and a large stake in case maker Joseph Erard. These Hermès Cape Cod models offer everything from casual variety to elegant in-house manufacturing thanks to the TGM Manufacture version. Although pricing for the quartz models varies between $3,175-$4,000 depending on strap and dial options, all dial variants of the Hermès Cape Cod TGM Manufacture retail for $6,200 when paired with the alligator leather strap, but the opaline silvered dial version with natural Barenia calf leather is an exception, priced at $5,950. hermes.com