To capitalise on the momentum generated by the Carré H — a men’s mechanical watch debuted at SIHH 2018 — Hermès are releasing the Carré Cuir later this month. Espousing a singularly specific aesthetic, the new Hermès dress watch warps traditional horological design codes in favour of an illusion which seamlessly blends dial and strap together. Enthusiasts will recognise the superficial parallels to the Marc Berthier-designed Carré H — both watches utilise a shaped case and are being marketed as gender-specific — but where the former leans heavily on Hermès’ history as an artistic incubator, the Carré Cuir explores the Maison’s traditional expertise in leatherwork and haute joaillerie.

Carré Cuir
The Carré Cuir embodies the kind of elemental and streamlined design that is perfectly suited to modern dress watches. For lovers of fine jewellery, Hermès are releasing a variation which is decorated with a 68-diamond setting.

The most striking thing about the Carré Cuir is, unlike conventional watches, it doesn’t utilise protruding lugs in order to secure the leather strap to any display components (i.e. case and dial). Instead, the Hermès design team have cleverly recessed the lugs into the case, creating an optical illusion whereby the Carré Cuir’s strap runs seamlessly throughout the entire watch. The process required to simulate this effect (i.e. watch hands floating off the textured dial) is extremely meticulous, requiring a period of lengthy and gradual adjustment by Hermès’ artisans.

Carré Cuir
Powered by a Swiss-made quartz movement, the Carré Cuir (in 316L steel) is a surprisingly versatile dress watch that compensates for its mechanical simplicity with good looks and a nifty optical illusion.

If it isn’t apparent already, the Carré Cuir’s primary appeal derives from its aesthetic. Its seamless design uses heavily textured lizard hide to creative effect; with the visibly exotic material made even more prominent by a no-frills dial execution that brings only applied indices (every quarter hour) and the aforementioned baton hands to the table. Without so much as a date window in sight, the on-wrist impact of the Carré Cuir is reminiscent of a fine leather bracelet; neatly echoing the larger leather goods for which Hermès are more widely known. Despite the focus on aesthetics, the Carré Cuir proves surprisingly wearable: both versions measure 24mm in diameter; and include steel and diamond set (0.4K) variations catering to daily or statement wear.

For watch snobs who perceive the word “quartz” to be anathema, the Carré Cuir might not register much interest. For everybody else, Hermès’ latest release is an irreverent and funky little curio that works effortlessly alongside the Parisian Maison’s existing accessories.

The Hermès Carré Cuir is available in polished 316L steel (HK$36,900) or with a 68-gem diamond setting (HK$67,500). 

Hermès, G/F, Landmark Prince’s, 10 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2525 5900

Randy Lai
Editor
Having worked in the Australian digital media landscape for over 5 years, Randy has extensive experience in men's specialist categories such as classic clothing, watches and spirits. He is partial to mid-century chronographs and a nice chianti.