Hermès is a fashion brand that has made the rare crossover to an actually respected watchmaking brand, though this is not entirely new. You see, the first watches to bear the Hermès name appeared as early as the 1920s and one of their most iconic models, the Hermès Cape Cod, was born over 26 years ago in 1991. To mark the 25th anniversary of the Cape Cod watch, Hermès introduced new models to the collection earlier this year and here’s a closer look at them.
There are essentially two new models to the Hermes Cape Cod collection. Though both are known as the Hermes Cape Cod TGM Manufacture, one is powered by a self-winding mechanical movement while the other has a quartz movement. Of course, it won’t be Hermès if the two new models weren’t available in different colors. By the way, TGM stands for très grand modèle, which translates directly to “very large model.”
The new mechanical and automatic Hermes Cape Cod TGM watches have similar case sizes, but it is actually quite easy to differentiate them. The mechanical models have a dial that has a stamped pattern in the center that reminds me of Audemars Piguet’s “tapisserie” guilloche, and a date window at 6 o’clock. The quartz models, on the other hand, have their date windows at 3 o’clock and a dial with a radial brushed finish.We begin with the mechanical Hermès Cape Cod TGM watches. There are four variants and all have stainless steel cases, with the main difference being their dial colors. There’s blue, black, anthracite, and opaline silver. But more on the dial later, let’s talk about the case first.
The case has all the characteristics that made the Hermes Cape Cod an icon for Hermès. It has a square middle section that measures 33 x 33mm with extended lugs inspired by the brand’s own Chaîne d’Ancre links. Thanks to the lugs, the watch wears larger than what the 33mm measurement might suggest. But even so, the Cape Cod TGM remains to be a modestly sized watch as it is quite thin too. For men accustomed to wearing larger watches, wearing a Cape Cod will take some getting used to.The case is neatly polished throughout and reflects light from all angles. And if you look from the sides, you can see that the case is actually curved, which helps make it more comfortable to wear. And even though the crown is petite, it is easy to pull out thanks to a tiny notch at its back. All in all, it is a very elegant case and one that I like very much because of its distinctive design.As I mentioned earlier, four dial options are available – blue, black, anthracite, and opaline silver. All four dials have a date window at 6 o’clock and feature a stamped checkerboard middle section that is lined with a minute track, which makes it easy to tell the exact minute. In addition, the raised patterns offer a surface for light to play on and create interesting effects when viewed under a strong light.Long time readers of aBlogtoWatch might probably know that I’m not that fond of date windows on watches, but the execution here isn’t too disruptive and is something that I can live with. It helps that Hermes Cape Cod has thoughtfully matched the background of the date window to the color of the dial. Even so, imagine how much cleaner the dial would look if they omitted the date window.All four are nice, black is easily the dressiest and classiest of the lot, and opaline is quite nice as well. I think the blue and anthracite options are great for watch lovers who want something formal but with a little splash of fun. That said, the opaline silver model certainly has the poorest legibility of the lot since the silver appliques for the hours and the silver hour and minute hands do not contrast greatly against the opaline silver dial.
The dials themselves are of a very high quality. The rhodium-plated Arabic numeral appliques are well finished, while the prints on the dial itself are sharp with no perceptible bleeding, even under our macro lenses. The baton-shaped rhodium-coated hands are filled with luminescent material to provide some legibility to dimly-lit environments, and once again, the shape of them reminds me of Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watches.It won’t be fair to talk about an Hermès watch without mentioning the strap. And as you would expect, the alligator straps that these watches come with are brilliant. They all come with matching color straps, so the black dial variant comes with a classy black alligator strap, the opaline silver dial model has a soft and supple Barenia leather strap, and the anthracite and blue models come with matching gray and dark blue alligator leather straps respectively. Also of note are the Bund-style straps which, while not my cup of tea, are very well done. The straps are finely crafted and feel really nice on the skin. I mean, honestly, what else were you expecting from one of the top names in the world when it comes to leather goods?Inside, the mechanical Cape Cod TGM watches are powered by the Hermès H1912. It is a self-winding movement that’s actually made by Vaucher, of which Hermès owns 25% of. The remaining 75% is owned by Parmigiani. It is a thin movement that measures about 4mm, which explains why these Cape Cod watches are so thin. It beats at 4Hz and has a power reserve of 50 hours, which is pretty standard fare. The movement is visible through a sapphire display case back and it is quite nicely decorated too with the distinctive Hermès “H” logo across the bridges and rotor.The quartz Cape Cod TGM watches share the same case as their mechanical counterparts. Stainless steel, 33 x 33mm, and the iconic Hermes Cape Cod design, it is all there. The difference lies in the dial. For the quartz models, in place of the stamped checkboard pattern in the middle, they have dials with a sunburst radial finish. Also, the date window has been moved from 6 to 3 o’clock. I very much prefer the former.There are three new quartz models. The first is the Cape Cod TGM Bicolore. These have an opaline silver dial and are distinguished by their bi-color calfskin leather straps. Unlike the mechanical Cape Cod watch with the opaline silver dial, the Arabic numerals here are rhodium transferred. As a result, they appear gray and thus have more contrast against the dial, making these quartz models more legible. There are two straps options: Malta Blue with Hermès Red or Malta Blue with Étoupe. Both are equally nice and it’s just a matter of which strap you prefer.Next, we have the Hermes Cape Cod TGM Cadran laque, which basically means lacquered dial. Two options are available here, one with a blood red dial and another in brown. Both have a metallic radial finish. But what is most unique about them is that they both come with Hermès’ iconic Double Tour strap.Finally, we have the Cape Cod TGM Bracelet de Force watches. These have opaline silver dials and are mounted on what are commonly known as bund straps – essentially straps that have an added band below. There are a couple of strap options here; black or green alligator, black, or natural Barenia leather. If you ask me, the natural Barenia leather strap looks the most harmonious.