Named after the posh seaside resort in Massachusetts, the Hermès Cape Cod arrived in 1991 like a stylish sea breeze blowing over the era’s more grounded watchmaking. The irreverent icon was designed by Henri d’Origny, a legendary creative partner of the maison, who took the brief for a square watch and audaciously placed said square inside a rectangle. His singular vision was realised through another Hermès icon: the chaîne d’ancre (anchor chain), whose split-oval links are replicated in the lugs to elongate the case surrounding a square dial. In 1998, Martin Margiela, then artistic director of Hermès womenswear, added the signature Double Tour strap — a deceptively simple change (it wraps around the wrist twice!) that caused the biggest stir and elevated the style status of the watch.
Since then, the Cape Cod has been continuously developed and reinvented, while losing none of its inherent chic and Art Deco allure. It was enriched horologically with dual time, chronograph and tourbillon mechanisms, adopted a new silver exterior, reinvented its silhouette with the Tonneau and Nantucket models, and even made masculine with mechanical movements (first seen in the Cape Cod Grandes Heures). In 2016, the Cape Cod turned 25, and of its milestone renditions, one monochrome model eclipsed the rest. The Cape Cod Shadow flaunts a black DLC-treated case, matt black dial, and red burnishing on the strap edges — deliberate style choices that sublimate the boldly impertinent attitude of its creation. It is this badass blackout that finally subverts the femininity of the timepiece; even the double wraparound strap becomes wearable for men in all-black, appearing like a casual leather bracelet with hardware that tells the time (those not in the sartorial mood can switch back to the standard Barenia calfskin strap). With the Shadow, the modern male can wear his love for the Cape Cod on his wrist.