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Hermès - Hermès drops anchor

Hermès Hermès drops anchor

The new Cape Cod finally brings us an update to the anchor chain motif. Created in 1938, it was reincarnated in the case of the Cape Cod watch in 1991, but it has never before appeared on a watch dial. Until now.

It looks thoroughly modern, but it’s not a new design. Far from it. The Cape Cod was created a little less than 15 years after La Montre Hermès was set up. It was 1991, the same year that the timepiece was made available in a more elongated, dynamic but also affordable version: the Nantucket.

This charming duo, the Cape Cod and the Nantucket, rose to the top of the hit parade for La Montre Hermès and its women’s collections. But it was never an obvious success. To begin with, there’s that square within a rectangle. It’s easy to describe but less easy to execute. Henri d’Origny drew inspiration from the anchor chain link designed by Robert Dumas in 1938, and incorporated it into a watch. Perhaps because he was so free-spirited, the design he created struck a chord, and quickly found international acclaim.

Its success was magnified by Martin Margiela’s stroke of genius; when creating his first collection for Hermès in 1998, he decided to add a double-wrapped strap. Sales went through the roof and the Cape Cod watch became an icon. The Nantucket also benefited from this boom.

Revival of an iconic design

What many people are less aware of is the anchor chain design itself. It resurfaced in the design of the Cape Code but then sank out of sight for several years –the majority of the Cape Cod’s lifetime, in fact. The case shape was there, but the engraved or printed design disappeared. It was still visible in other Hermès divisions (tableware, silk squares, ties and belts, mainly) but it was no longer represented on a watch dial.

Hermès drops anchor

Cape Cod Chaîne d'ancre in diamonds and white mother-of-pearl © Hermès

We had to wait until 2017 to witness the comeback, on four versions of the watch that reproduced part of the design on the four cardinal points of the dial. This approach opened a new stylistic era for Hermès. The dial was wiped clean of all numbers and markers. Just a detail? For any other brand, maybe. But not for Hermès. The presence of Arabic numerals on the dials of La Montre Hermès watches has always been a major feature of its identity. Philippe Apeloig even designed a custom typeface for the Slim d’Hermès. The fact that the Cape Cod and the Nantucket have abandoned their dial markings represents a stylistic break.

Hermès on the left, chain on the right

This year, the Cape Cod is offering a reinterpretation of the anchor chain link, with a completely different approach from the one we saw in 2017. It’s not one link cut into four pieces, but two of them, interlinked. Against a black or white lacquered background, the pattern is built up using black spinels, aventurine or diamonds, along with white mother-of-pearl. The rectangular bezel is set with diamonds, providing a further touch of glamour. There’s one more major stylistic departure: this is the first time on a series-produced Cape Cod that the “Hermès Paris” logo is positioned off-centre, aligned horizontally at 11 o’clock. The matching single or double-wrapped alligator strap completes the casually elegant look of this ladies’ watch.

Hermès drops anchor

Cape Cod Chaîne d'ancre with single or double-wrapped alligator strap © Hermès

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“La Montre Hermès” has adopted an epicurean philosophy that values the creation of sober, contemporary timepieces.

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