As usual for the French brand, the Hermes Dressage L’Heure Masque offers a compelling mixture of an innovative movement, fine design, and a good taste. Although some purists may still sneer at their timepieces, there are in fact very few ‘fashion’ watches that can rival the 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 blank movements for brands that couldn’t afford to design and to produce 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 is a kind of an evolution of their earlier design. Around three years ago, the company has introduced the gorgeous Hermes Arceau Temps Suspendu 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 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-karat rose gold.
Its shape is 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 to flood 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 interested in one of these Hermes Dressage L’Heure Masques, you should probably make a visit to their local boutique.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 5/5
Hermes Dressage L’Heure Masque specification
Price: $43,700 (MSRP, version in 18-karat rose gold) / $20,700 (MSRP, version in stainless steel)
Movement: Automatic, Hermes/Vaucher caliber H1925, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 28 (plus 18 more jewels for “Time Veiled” add-on module)
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Movement decoration: Circular-grained and snailed mainplate, satin-brushed bridges and oscillating weight adorned with Hermes decoration (H symbols)
Functions: Hours, minutes, GMT
Case: Stainless steel / Rose gold
Bezel shape: Round
Dimensions: 40.50 mm x 38.40 mm
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