As usual for the French brand, the new Hermes Dressage L’Heure Masque automatic wrist watch offers a very compelling mixture of an innovative movement, fine design and a very good taste. Although some purists may still sneer at their timepieces, there is in fact very few ‘fashion’ watches that can rival its refinement and ingenuity of its design.
It’s been about a year since the French fashion house has bought a share of its partner Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier: a Swiss-based company that earned its name building marvelous ebauches for brands that couldn’t afford designing and making their own calibers. Now officially called a Manufacture, Hermes introduces its new automatic timekeeper that (excuse me for using this loud word) reinvents the very concept a dress watch.
Equipped with their new Caliber H1925 in-house caliber, the new automatic watch successfully blends visual attractiveness of a one-hander, regulator-styled watch with ease of use of a normal timepiece equipped with both hour and minute hands.
The idea behind the gadget is to basically hide the smaller hour hand behind longer (and seemingly slightly fatter) minute hand. As time ticks away, the hour hand follows the minute hand as a nuclear submarine travels underneath a super-tanker in order to sneak its way to enemy’s shores. To make it visible, you only need to push a button on the crown to activate a cam that not only allows the hour hand to jump to its rightful place, but also opens the small aperture at 6 o’clock revealing current time in a second time zone.
The concept seems to be a kind of an evolution of their earlier design. Around three years ago, the company has introduced the gorgeous Hermes Arceau Temps Suspendu watch that, as the name implies, had its hour and minute hands suspended at 12:01 and only revealed true time if you pressed a push-piece on its side.
Although the function is not terribly useful, it is a very fine complication that makes your normal dress watch a lot less boring.
Like the Hermes Dressage 1837 Automatic that the brand has released in March 2013, the new watch is released in the same cushion-shaped body. Measuring 40.5 mm in length and 38.4 mm in width, the case is available both in ice-grey stainless steel and in a lot warmer 18-carat rose gold.
Its shape seems to be very close to that of their other products like the brutal Marine cufflinks and some of their signature belt buckles. As you can see on the photos, the bodies are not only finely shaped, but are also nicely decorated with polished and brushed surfaces making an illusion of lightness.
Like many other luxury brands that make “Swiss Made” watches, Hermes can’t afford flooding the market with dozens of “editions” of the same model limited to just dozens of units. However, the watch is still fairly limited (they only plan to make 1000 numbered pieces), so there is a good chance that by next year you will only be able to get a used version of it. So, if you are really interested in one of these Hermes Dressage L’Heure Masques, you should probably make a visit to their local boutique.
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 5/5
Hermes Dressage L’Heure Masque automatic watch specification
Price: $43,700 (MSRP, version in 18-carat rose gold) / $20,700 (MSRP, version in stainless steel)
Movement: Automatic, caliber H1925, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 28 (plus 18 more jewels for “Time Veiled” add-on module)
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: No data
Movement decoration: Circular-grained and snailed mainplate, satin-brushed bridges and oscillating weight adorned with Hermes decoration (H symbols)
Functions: Hours, minutes, GMT
Case material: Stainless steel / Rose gold
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Cushion
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 40.50 mm x 38.40 mm
Case height: No data
Lug width: 21.00 mm
Dial: Opaline silvered, vertical guilloche pattern
Hour markers: Dots
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Matt Havana alligator leather with steel folding clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Sapphire