In Brief

The all new Hermès Cape Cod Martelee

Parisian luxury brand introduces a modern classic

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Hermès’ best-loved Cape Cod is a study of paradoxes. First, there is the timepiece’s name: a flagship design of all-Parisian make Hermès, the Cape Cod is christened after a popular New England summertime holiday spot in Massachusetts, in the north-eastern United States. Then, there is its idiosyncratic shape. At first glance a right-angled watch, the Cape Cod’s blueprint in fact places a square within a rectangle. A trick of the eye, its sharp-edged dial is framed by two extended lugs meeting in a rounded curve.

Henri d’Origny first unveiled the Cape Cod in 1991. In a career that has been recognised with France’s Légion d’Honneur order of merit, D’Origny has dreamt up a myriad of orange-boxed products (porcelain tableware, vibrant silk Carré scarves and printed ties among them) many of which have since become Hermès calling-cards. 

For his 1991 timepiece, he drew inspiration from the Hermès archives: borrowed from ships’ metal anchor chains, Hermès first introduced the Chaîne d’ancre shape as a brand motif in 1938. When sketching the Cape Cod’s case, d’Origny drew the mirror image of two Chaîne d’ancre half-links, at their centre the watch’s geometric dial.

Since its launch, the design has inspired a great many iterations: to date, the Cape Cod has sparkled with yellow gold cases (some set with icy diamonds) or midnight blue lapis lazuli dials, its strap has been cut from rare leathers or tactile Milanese mesh. Its arguably biggest advancement was first presented in 1998, when Martin Margiela – the Belgian designer worked with Hermès as a creative director from 1997 to 2003 – encircled wrists twice with his Double Tour leather watchstrap.

This year, Hermès pays tribute to the artistry of goldsmithing. Christened after the French term for “hammered”, the brand’s new Cape Cod Martelée is delightful to touch: to achieve its undulating surface, Hermès’ master artisans beat steel in a precisely calibrated pattern. Worn on a black Barena calf leather strap – both single and Double Tour versions are available – the forged silver-tone case is matched with a lacquered shadow-hued dial of anthracite gray and black tones.

£2,730; hermes.com

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