Yet again, Cartier presented many novelties this year, showcasing the exceptional expertise of the Maison in the field of high jewellery, artistic techniques and fine watchmaking. Please see our subjective selection below.
As it happens with many great designs, the Crash watch of Cartier was born by accident. One of the fables suggests that a customer brought in a Cartier Bagnoire watch, which had been involved in a car accident and transformed into a melted, strange shape. Jean-Jacques Cartier used it as inspiration to create a new timepiece form, which soon became the symbol of non-conformism and creative freedom. Many people associate it with the watches depicted on Salvador Dalí’s painting entitled The Persistence of Memory (1931).
From the 1960s onwards the line has seen a few variations and due to the limited availability it is a truly sought-after collector’s piece.
At this SIHH Cartier presented the 67-unit limited Crush Skeleton edition in pink gold with curved Roman numerals taking the morphed shape, and run by the hand-wound calibre 9618 MC.
Cartier defined Drive, a new attitude, character and from 2016 onwards a new watch line for men. Drive is for independent souls, who are elegant but not forced, rakish but not theatrical, and not the “trying too hard” type.
The cushion-shaped Drive de Cartier line has different models: in pink gold or steel, fitted with a black, grey or white guilloché dial marked by Roman numerals punctuated with sword-shaped hands. It is also available in a Fine Watchmaking version with a flying tourbillon 9452 MC movement, certified “Poinçon de Genève”.
Ballon Bleu de Cartier watch – Enamel granulation with panther
Granulation is a decorative manufacturing technique whereby a surface is covered in spherules or granules of precious metal. It was widely used by the Etruscans and Greek craftsmen, and dates back to as early as 3000 BC.
In 2013 the Etruscan Panther Rotonde de Cartier debuted with this special technique, the motif on the dial was painstakingly created from threads of gold. Following the concept, the artisans used enamel in a powder form, then stretched it out it into delicate threads. These pieces were heated by blowpipe, until they were one by one formed into beads. They are then delicately assembled together in accordance with the motif concerned, the colour tone and desired volume. It has to be fired several times, to achieve the right colour and effect. Very fine gold lines draw the main features of the panther’s muzzle.
The final picture of the panther is framed in a 18k yellow gold case set with diamonds and the fluted crown set with a blue cabochon sapphire.
We covered another gorgeous panther-timepiece shown at SIHH 2016 here and see even more in the gallery at the end of the article.
Rotonde de Cartier Astromystérieux watch
Maurice Couët, a watchmaking talent who in 1911 became Cartier’s exclusive supplier, created Model A, the famous mystery clock in 1912. In 1920 the movement was developed further and the dual shaft, which turned the transparent discs, was exchanged for a single shaft mechanism. It first debuted in the “central axis” clock, then in the famous Portique mystery clocks in 1923. The clocks appeared on the tables of the nobility and royalties of the era.
Year by year the Maison pushes the limits of fine watchmaking even further. In 2016 the 43.5mm palladium Rotonde de Cartier Astromystérieux “has reinvented the mastery of mystery at Cartier” with its 9462 MC calibre. The entire movement, including the barrel, the escapement, the balance wheel and the gear-train rotates to the rhythm of the minutes in 60 seconds. The cage is in this case a sapphire disk with two upper bridges, one of which carries the balance wheel, while the other carries the remaining parts. The hours disk is connected to the tourbillon disk. Cartier developed a new winding mechanism that establishes a direct link between the crown and the sapphire disk with a floating pinion.
Tourbillon Mystérieux Azuré pendant watch
Cartier is first and foremost known for its exceptional jewellery creations, and for its transformable high jewellery pieces. One of their mechanical movements the calibre 9463 MC with mysterious double tourbillon received an amazing bejewelled “dress” – thus the white gold Tourbillon Mystérieux Azuré pendant watch is more like an “object of art”.
The shape of the pendant is an Art-Deco stylized butterfly fully paved with diamonds, sapphires and onyx. In the middle of the watch the movement with the mystery tourbillon is visible.
For me, blue sapphire is one of the most interesting and hypnotising coloured gemstones. The intensity, the hue and the saturation of the colour are also very characteristic and vary by origin; for example Kashmir sapphires are a cornflower colour and have a slightly milky surface. Burmese are darker royal blue and Sri Lankan (Ceylonese) are generally bigger and lighter coloured sapphires. The centre stone of the necklace is a detachable 25.93-carat oval sapphire, an extraordinary stone from Sri Lanka.
Photo credits: Copyright © Cartier 2016, Loupiosity.com.
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