Michel Herbelin Cap Camarat GMT
Precision, Winter 2021
If you’re as much a fan of boats as cars, the name of French watchmaker Michel Herbelin might resonate. Founded by the man himself in 1947 as Impec (for ‘impeccable’), it changed to Michel Herbelin in 1965 and has been going strong ever since – with more than 10 million watches made and sold to date.
Despite its land-locked location at Charquement in the heart of the French Jura mountains, Michel Herbelin became inextricably linked with the sea in 1987 as a result of that year’s America’s Cup moving from Newport, Rhode Island – where it had been staged from for more than half a century – to Fremantle, Australia, following the defeat of the American yacht Liberty by Australia II four years earlier.
Herbelin’s son Jean-Claude (who was by then running the company – and does to this day) decided to commemorate Newport with a porthole-shaped watch that went on to become a much-loved model with the sailing community.
Even before that, however, Michel Herbelin had aligned itself with the sea through the creation of another model called the Cap Camarat that was named after the celebrated cape near Saint-Tropez, famed for its lighthouse that stands 130 metres above the water.
A revised, three-hand version of the Cap Camarat introduced in 2018 has allegedly gone down a storm (lighthouse pun not intended), prompting the arrival of the all-new GMT model pictured here.
Fitting right in with the current trend for integrated bracelet watches, the Cap Camarat GMT features another porthole-style bezel secured by six top-loading screws, beneath which is a decidedly attractive nautical blue dial stamped with horizontal stripes.
The main feature of the watch, however, is its GMT function that enables it to display local time and home time simultaneously, the latter by means of a secondary, red-coloured hour hand that points to a 24-hour city scale printed around an inner rotating bezel. The usual 24 locations are marked, with the bezel being divided into silver and blue halves to denote night or day in the different hemispheres.
Sapphire crystals front and back combined with the hefty steel case and bracelet make for 100 metre water resistance, and a decent coating of lume on the hands and bevelled hour markers make the watch usefully legible after dark – although you’ll need 20:20 vision to be be able to read all of the timezone locations. They are a tad on the small side…