There are certain places that inspire watch brands to the point of naming collections after them. While Baume & Mercier was drawn to the Hamptons on Long Island, Hermès decided to cast anchor for its nautically-inspired watch collection at Cape Cod, an exclusive resort for the elites of Boston and New York, fringed by long sandy beaches.
In the 1930s, Hermès created the Anchor Chain bracelet with its distinctive split-oval links, which was to become one of the stellar jewellery creations from the venerable Maison. It inspired the “anchor” motif of the wristband lugs on the Cape Cod watch launched in 1991.
Since then, the Cape Cod line, whose elegance reflects that of the posh American seaside resort, has been developed and reinvented, while losing nothing of its inherent chic and its Art Deco allure. Among the most striking innovations associated with it is the wraparound strap introduced in 1998 by Martin Margiela, at the time Artistic Director of Hermès womenswear, on a Cape Cod watch. An instantly recognisable token of the Hermès signature touch, this strap strongly contributed to the commercial success of the watch that has gained the stature of an authentic status symbol. Two distinguished ministers of the French government were indeed recently spotted wearing a Cape Cod watch with a wrapround strap…
The Cape Cod collection took an innovative new step in 2007 by welcoming the first Hermès model fitted with an Haute Horlogerie movement: the Cape Cod Moon Phases, equipped with the H1929 self-winding calibre by Vaucher Manufacture. The inventive playfulness of the Cape Cod H1 Grandes Heures, unveiled in 2008, heralded the lyrical approach to time showcased in the future “Le temps suspendu” and “L’Heure masquée” models. The “Grand Hours” mechanism adopts a relativistic approach to time, rendering it subjective and personal by serving to speed up or slow down the movement of the hours hand.
A barrel-load of variations
The Cape Cod collection has been enriched over the years with Dual Time, chronograph and tourbillon (2010) models as well as a GMT version (2013). In 2014, it became the first to adopt an exterior made of Silver, an exclusive Hermès silver alloy. In addition to its technical features, the design of the nautical range has also been reinvented, with iterations such as the Tonneau – a barrel-shaped case inaugurated in 2009 with a more distinctly rounded curve and available in three sizes – and the Nantucket, a slimmer and more elongated interpretation named after the eponymous island off Cape Cod and also available in gem-set versions.
And in 2015?
This year, two new very different new models testify to the vitality of this watch range. The Cape Cod TGM (Très Grand Modèle) Automatic features a generous 33 mm square steel case, complemented by the two lugs with the iconic anchor-chain shape so as to form a rectangular shape. The square re-emerges however in the dial centre as a stamped raised décor framed by the black transferred minute circle. The rhodiumed hands mark off the hours and minutes by sweeping over the 11 matching Arabic numerals distinguished by a highly contemporary design, with the missing 6 o’clock numeral replaced by the date window.
At the heart of this timepiece, the Manufacture Hermès H1919 self-winding movement beats at a rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour and enjoys 50 hours of autonomy.
The Cape Cod TGM Automatic is water-resistant to 30 metres and will thus be perfectly at ease in the transparent waters of the American peninsula after which it is named, even though its leather or natural Barenia calfskin strap is more suited to sunset cocktails on the beach.
Looking every inch like something straight out of an imaginary African land, a strange zebra that is part horse and part bird spans the entire dial on each of the four one-of-a-kind Cape Cod Zebra Pegasus watches. Engraving and Grand Feu enamelling endow these animal portraits with subtle nuances stemming from the translucent and opaque pigments used as well as the multiple light effects generated by the engraved wings coated in cloisonné enamel. The Manufacture Hermès H1837 is also graced with refined decorations: the mainplate is circular-grained and snailed, while the bridges and plates are satin-brushed. This wealth of artistry is housed in a 36.5 x 35.4 mm white gold case, fitted with a black or indigo alligator strap.
Click on the large image at the top of the page to see more Cape Cod models.