Internet denizens and cognitive psychologists alike are familiar with the “invisible gorilla” test. The experiment, in which subjects are asked to watch a video of people passing basketballs to one another and count the number of passes completed, is a demonstration of the brain’s ability to overlook the obvious. Focused on the teamwork activity, most viewers fail to see the person dressed in a gorilla costume casually saunter across the scene. On second viewing, it’s readily apparent. So it is with the above photo, wherein (if my straw-poll results among friends is a good indicator) a second look at the image makes notice that a somewhat feminine watch is resting on a man’s wrist. There’s no debate that the shape and sparkle of the Hermes Cut takes visual precedence, but what’s more interesting is the fact that it doesn’t look that out of place. Unlike a gorilla traversing a basketball court, the diamond-set Cut seems right at home on almost every wrist, making it easily one of the most versatile watches to come out of Geneva’s Watches & Wonders 2024 event. Going hands-on with this piece in the metal proved that Hermes is on the right track in developing its watches business, focusing on broad appeal, variety, and build quality.

The one-word summary of this watch is “geometry.” Seeing the Cut up close, it’s clear that Hermes had a very gentle design language in mind during the conceptual stage. For a watch with such an angular title, there are very few hard corners to be found either on the Cut’s dial or throughout its case, with the boldest element being the branding at 12 o’clock. Here, the company’s black serif font stands out in sharp relief to the thoughtfully rounded font used in the applied numerals. Here, the “2,” “5,” and “7” are the only ones with any sort of angle — everything else is very easily curved. The hands, too. are almost kid-like, lending evidence that this isn’t a watch that takes itself too seriously. It’s an aesthetic that seems to resonate with people, as the Cut has been one of the more talked-about pieces online since the W&W show ended. While these are elements viewable at a distance, the macro-view highlights the Cut’s textures and colors. The silvery dial (the only color available at launch) is fairly uniform with a very fine grain that gives it a flatter, non-reflective appearance. This helps add contrast to the numerals’ polished frames filled with glossy Super-LumiNova, as well as the highly polished hands. It’s this close-in view that shows the easily overlooked details done right. For example, the luminous orange dot on the seconds hand travels perfectly above the snailed minute track — the only other place on the dial to feature color. It’s a slight modification of the Cut’s spiritual cousin, the H08, which has a more complex layout in which hours live inside the track while minutes are placed further within that. The H08 is also punctuated with a date window and only offers Hermes’ famous orange color on the very tip of the seconds hand. The Cut takes all these elements, rethinks them, and reorients them in a very cohesive and clean way.

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For a watch with just one dial color, what gives the Cut variety is its incorporation of diamonds and two-tone rose gold. At launch, the Cut has four main flavors: steel or two-tone, each with or without a diamond-set bezel. This is similar to some offerings from Tudor, which has made parts of its already-expansive Black Bay collection available in a head-spinning array of colors, sizes, materials, and diamond-set options. Albeit a new collection available in only one size, the Cut is much more navigable. This isn’t a watch that needs diamonds, yet it speaks to the Cut’s inherent versatility that diamonds can be incorporated in a way that doesn’t distract. Their placement within the bezel doesn’t interfere with the things that make the Cut unique, that is, the case shape and dial design. It’s a well-executed offering to those who expect the sparkly stuff in a luxury watch while retaining the non-gemmed options for those looking for something less flashy. Similarly, the rose gold variants lend warmth to an otherwise chilly design. The biggest drawback here is that Hermes has elected to remove the orange accents from the two-tone models, which somehow makes them feel like they are missing something.

The Cut’s twelve introductory references get a further dose of variety in the strap options, with a well-fitting standard steel bracelet leading the charge. The  H-shaped (what else?) links follow the lead of the case, with a rounded profile that makes them small enough to form nicely to the wrist. These are screw-in and easily adjustable but extra links might be needed for larger wrists. Aside from steel, the bracelet is also available in a two-tone variety, and the extremely short lugs make it look very integrated without taking drastic measures. The butterfly clasp makes for a clean look but inhibits fine adjustment as the style essentially obviates micro-adjustment. One big advantage of the bracelet is Hermes’ toolless strap change system, seen below. The most welcome aspect here is the actual strap-changing interface which, thanks to a broad, textured mechanism, is easy to operate. Compare this to some “toolless” designs that are so stiff and damaging to fingertips and fingernails that they might as well not be toolless at all. This coupling isn’t limited to the bracelets either, with the alternative rubber straps featuring them, too. A big tradeoff for some, this makes third-party options basically impossible. Hermes has anticipated this complaint by making replacement straps available for purchase on the brand’s site and while this expands options by adding aftermarket-only colors like light gray, green, and blue, for some reason, the “Gris étain”(pewter gray) seems to only be available with the purchase of a watch. Interested buyers might factor this in when making a purchase. They might also consider that the $250 USD price tag for a replacement rubber strap does not include the pin buckle. While the built-in quick-release system makes installing the pin-buckle on the strap somewhat easier, it’s an added step that slows down the process, thus diminishing the attractiveness of strap changes.

Great design and a good strap system tell most of the Cut’s story. Inside, Hermes’ H1912 movement brings it all together. As Hermes holds a 25% stake in movement-builder Vaucher (Parmigiani owns the other 75%), the finishing of the self-winding is above average. The rotor and mainplate are decorated with a utilitarian “H” motif atop a finely brushed finish. Branding is subtle, letting the attention rest on the aesthetics of the caliber. One pleasing element is the uniform screw alignment at the center rotating point. A minor detail, it is the sort of thing that can elevate the appearance of watches like this. Appearance aside, the H1912 has a 50-hour power reserve. While this outperforms most of the abundant ETA 2892-based movements, it’s likely not a deal-making feature. Instead, overall reliability and repairability are better metrics for a caliber like this. Still, with Vaucher movements being less common, it’s difficult to speculate on the long-term prospects of the H1912. At the very least, it’s an uncomplicated movement that’s gorgeous to look at, which ought to be more than enough for the Cut’s target demographic.

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Generally, watch brands have played it safe with releases in 2024. Hermes is no exception, with the Cut representing a derivative of the groundbreaking H08. Regardless, the Cut is simultaneously an evolution, bringing popular features like a reduced 36mm case size, toolless strap changes, and a variety of style options to the table. More than anything, the intuitive design is distinctive with a case shape that stands apart from other watches. Hammering home the geometric design of the Cut, the case is most round yet vaguely boxy. It’s a fun experience, made more so by the creative crown placement at 2 o’clock. Despite its ability to stand on its own merits, the most compelling aspect of the Cut may very well be its future. As a new collection, it is almost sure to be a platform upon which Hermes builds. Similar to its H08 cousin which has slowly (emphasis on slowly) expanded with new materials, complications, and colors, the Cut will surely be a canvas on which Hermes will create.

The Hermés Cut Collection pricing starts at $6,725 USD for the steel model on a rubber strap and tops out at $21,900 USD for the two-tone model with diamonds on a matching bracelet. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.


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