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Hermès Cape Cod: a touch of added soul

The Cape Cod watch designed by Henri d’Origny is a bold act of daring, representing the imaginary journey of an artist across a quarter of a century. 

By Vincent Daveau

The Cape Cod watch is the tour de force of a skilled artist who clearly takes pleasure in his work. Slightly edgy, delicate and graphical, this watchmaking reference is celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of its existence in 2016, and makes a distinctive addition to the collection. It is a work of art in its own right, one that such a poet as Arthur Rimbaud might have worn on his wrist as he wrote his famous Roman. But just that little touch of added soul shows us how only a true artist can make an object both refined and unassuming at the same time...

Hermès Cape Code Onyx Hermès Cape Cod Onyx

The magic in the divine proportion

Those connoisseurs fortunate enough to have met Henri d’Origny may be interested to know that the Cape Cod watch is made in the image of its creator: discerning it's true, but also a little off-beat and very engaging. Engaging is in fact the operative word for the Cape Cod line. For back in 1991, it was without a doubt the keyword and inspiration behind the Chaîne d’Ancre jewellery line, the maison's hallmark invention. Being 'engaged' for an artist means being willing to stolidly carry on the tradition, yet feeling free enough to break away from the original design to explore a new artistic angle. And in terms of creativity, the artist has certainly given free rein to his vision. Seemingly conventional, he has nonetheless eschewed all convention to claim his rightful place as a creator, one whose honesty compels him to confess that nothing can be the work of pure magic or enchantment, but the result of obeying certain mathematical rules. The so-called golden ratio therefore became the disarmingly natural choice for the task of inscribing a square within a rectangle. In a few masterly strokes, the designer has succeeded in squaring the circle with another geometric form and shown us that the Divine Proportion is a universal rule that dispenses with established codes.

Hermès Cape Cod Lapis Lazuli Hermès Cape Cod Lapis Lazuli

Striking the perfect balance

In signing the birth of the Cape Cod, Henri d’Origny was writing a kind of manifesto, which, if read between the lines, revealed a desire to dispense with all norms, a resistance to classification, while remaining in perfect harmony with the spirit of the time. The purity of line found in this watch reflects a straightforward, yet complex, personality that has transcended the stylistic boundaries of Hermès' original vision. Embodying the values of this family-run company, the Cape Cod immediately shed a powerful beacon of light on the lives of those who saw in all the pieces in this collection a purity and essence capable of expressing their vision of the world. However, for an interesting journey to become a spectacular destiny, sometimes fate must intervene. For the Cape Cod, confirmation of its success arrived in 1998 at the first Hermès fashion show, where it was seen adorning wrists with a double tour strap designed by Martin Margiela. Needless to say, the trend soon caught on and the watch immediately became an icon for an entire generation, witnessing a tenfold increase in sales after the introduction of the double tour strap… As soon as the Cape Cod had evolved in status from personal accessory to symbol of graphical universal myth, this distinctive timepiece was produced in several versions culminating in a masculine design that was very soon a firm favourite with dandies. The timekeeper then powered by a mechanical calibre with automatic winding had dared to escape all paradigms.

Hermès Cape Cod wristband Hermès Cape Cod

From fashion accessory to lifestyle symbol

In celebration of its 25th birthday, the house of Hermès has chosen to embellish the Cape Cod with single and double interchangeable straps, entirely hand-crafted in an array of bright, poppy colours, including electric blue, iris, cappuccino, Veronese green, ultraviolet and tomato red. This audacious range with a deliberate styling to catch the mood of the moment has once again dared to be different with a new gem setting technique and new mother-of-pearl dial.

Hermès Cape Code Hermès Cape Cod red and white 

The fashion house has also boldly branched out into other versions. Among the new creations on offer, especially noteworthy is the launch of a new masculine version of the Cape Cod, fitted with a cuff-style wristband, inspired by the wrap-around armband. But also worthy of mention is the feminine Cape Cod with white lacquered dial, which can be combined with double tour strap with contrasting red burnishing for the white calfskin leather version and burnished white for the red goatskin leather version. Finally, the new dials featuring semi-precious stones, such as onyx and lapis lazuli, will secure the future of this design as a fun talismanic timepiece ready to accompany its wearers on their life's adventures. 

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