How Hermès Nantucket Jeté de Chaîne d’Ancre Is A Fitting Addition To The Brand’s Nautical Lineage
The new diamond-dipped Nantucket Jeté de Chaîne d’Ancre by Hermès is the latest evolution of timepieces to look great by land or by sea.
Hermès is synonymous with all things equestrian and elegant. The maison started out making harnesses, bridles, and saddles in 1837, and even as it evolved into one of the world’s foremost luxury brands, its beginnings in leather goods are always there to tie everything together.
This foundation is one of the reasons Hermès timepieces are a favorite of the leisure class. Their classic silhouettes, inspired by horse tack and halters, are immediately identifiable to those in the know. And while popular, they have not been knocked off as much as other high-end watches.
But the equestrian crowd is equally comfortable at the yacht club as they are at stable. Although Hermès is a quintessentially French maison, there’s something very coastal New England about the company’s watch collection. With the launch of the new Nantucket Jeté de Chaîne d’Ancre, we thought we’d take a look at some of Hermès’ most beloved colonial-inspired designs.
THE CAPE COD
The first Hermès wristwatches were introduced in the mid-1930s with movements provided by Universal Geneve. At the time, the company was led by founder Thierry Hermès’ grandson Émile-Maurice Hermès. Émile-Maurice expanded the maison's offerings to all kinds of goods for the leisure class, including golf jackets and handbags. His mandate was rooted in "leather, sport, and a tradition of refined elegance.”
In 1991, Hermès’ legendary artistic director Henri d'Origny introduced the Cape Cod. D’Origny was inspired by the carefree preppy chic of the coastal community. Easy to understand, considering the famous Kennedy Compound is in nearby Hyannis Port.
In a nod to the region’s nautical history, d'Origny took the firm’s iconic Chaîne d’Ancre (or, “anchor chain” in English), a mainstay of Hermès jewelry collections since 1938, and adapted it. He integrated the design into the watch’s squared case and dial, then elongated it with stretched out lugs, giving the watch an almost belt buckle-like appearance.
Hermès being Hermès, the brand had to pair the Cape Cod with a luxe leather strap. Over the years, the house offered bands in a variety of colors, but the biggest sea change in the watch’s history was the introduction of the Double Tour in 1998. Widely known for wrapping around the wrist twice, the strap was the invention of avant-garde ready-to-wear designer Martin Margiela, who worked with Hermès at the time. Now, this clever contraption is as recognizable as the Cape Cod itself.
The Clipper made its maiden voyage in 1981 and soon became the star of the Hermès fleet. Also designed by d’Origny, it is named after the super speedy, three-masted sailing ship better known as the Yankee Clipper. The maritime influence on this watch is best expressed in its porthole-shaped bezel.
But it’s also a robust watch, perfect for landlubbers and sailors alike. While Hermès had a long history collaborating with watchmakers like Movado, Universal Geneve, and even Rolex, they didn’t open up their own manufacture until 1978 when it opened its La Montre Hermès subsidiary in Brügg, near Bienne. Its mission was to make its own emblematic timepieces, and the Clipper was its first big success story.
In 2008, Hermès introduced its first in-house movement in the Stainless-steel Clipper Big Date Sport H1. And though the Clipper is not currently available, they are still highly sought after on the secondary market because its elegant design makes it a great daily wear.
Coming full circle, we are back to the Nantucket Jeté de Chaîne d’Ancre.
The Nantucket was also designed by Henri d’Origny in 1991. But if the Cape Cod was meant to be “a square in a rectangle,” d’Origny wanted the Nantucket to be “a rectangle in a rectangle.”
It might not seem like a big difference, but the Nantucket appeals to those with a daintier aesthetic. For starters, it is more slender than the Cape Cod. And over the years, it added playful dustings of diamonds to its bezel and dial.
This most recent iteration, the Nantucket Jeté de Chaîne d’Ancre, modernizes the line in two simple ways. First, with a case sized at just 17 x 23mm, this very small model is tinier than the original. And second, while 41 white diamonds dance across the surface like moonlight reflecting on the ocean, it does not put on the airs of a formal timepiece. In fact, it embraces the idea of wearing diamonds during the day in a wholly mischievous way.
And because the modern woman wants versatility, this stainless steel watch can be accessorized with one of nine straps in either deep blue, amber, pink, or matte etoupe calfskin, or abyss blue, pearl gray, matte black, polished ultraviolet, or polished ember alligator.
The Nantucket Jeté de Chaîne d’Ancre is powered by an equally unfussy Swiss-made time-only quartz movement. Arriving at stores in April, the price will range from $5,850 to $6,025, depending on the strap.
(Images provided by Hermès)