A dozen years ago, in a new phase of Cartier’s watch development, the brand started to create fine and high watchmaking products in small, serialized editions. The intention was trifold: to come up with new complications and technologies that would make its way into Cartier’s regular manufacturing; to demonstrate to watch critics and collectors that the brand was able to create haute horlogerie independently; and to demonstrate that Cartier is a master of forms as well as complex watchmaking.
Cartier succeeded on all fronts: over 10 years, the Fine Watchmaking division produced numerous brilliant designs and two conceptual watches from 2008 to 2018, taking over from the Collection Privé, Cartier Paris and creating some seriously cool complications.
While the Fine Watchmaking collection officially ceased in 2018, Cartier continues to update the highlights of the collection with new variations. This year, it’s presenting 4 references in 3 models, all of which are signature Cartier pieces.
The Rotonde de Cartier Grande Complication Skeleton
The most important is the Rotonde de Cartier Grande Complication Skeleton. The movement was first introduced in 2015 with a slightly different design but the same dimensions. Formerly the 9406MC caliber and now the 9506MC, the automatic watch features a flying tourbillon, perpetual calendar and minute repeater. In conventional terms, this would not precisely be a grand complication, but the movement is a beauty viewed from either side, and at 5.49mm, an ultra-thin giant of high watchmaking, and one of the few automatic high watchmaking timepieces in existence.
The 2015 edition of this watch was in platinum, and the new model is in pink gold with slate gray galvanized skeleton display with Roman numeral hour markers. That’s a new addition to the display, along with pink gold hands and a sapphire cabochon. At CHF 840,000 and limited to 15 pieces, it’s certainly a rare opportunity to get your hands on a very spectacular movement designed by Carole Forestier in its second release.
Self-winding caliber 9506MC; hours and minutes; perpetual calendar; minute repeater; flying tourbillon; skeleton movement; 50-hour power reserve
45mm case in 18K pink gold; slate gray skeleton dial; water resistant to 30m
Gray alligator leather strap
Price CHF 840,000
The Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon
Yes the name is two mouthfuls, but it only serves to highlight the complexity of the design of this watch. First presented in 2017, the watch is spectacular particularly because it was the second time a mysterious tourbillon complication had been presented in a wristwatch, and presented as a double tourbillon making a one-minute rotation along with a five-minute revolution around the mystery display.
The former 9407MC, now 9507MC caliber was all the more impressive because the minute repeater which occupied 60% of the movement was skeletonized, designed to fit around the sapphire crystal gear wheels on which the double tourbillon rotated. The original watch was housed in titanium, which naturally gives a different sound profile than the new case in pink gold, with ruthenium-coated bridges on the movement that can be seen from the dial side. (A later model was in platinum and covered in baguette diamonds.) The all-or-nothing pusher for the minute repeater is at 4 o’clock, ensuring that when it’s triggered, the watch can’t be adjusted or the repeater re-triggered.
Manual winding caliber 9507MC; hours and minutes; minute repeater, double tourbillon; mysterious design; 84-hour power reserve (approx.)
45mm case in 18K pink gold; water resistant to 30m
Gray alligator leather strap
Price CHF 755,000
The Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Hour Skeleton
The last watch to return to Fine Watchmaking is the Mysterious Hour Skeleton, another revival from 2017 and a big highlight of the brand. The Mystery Hour complication was a translation of Cartier’s mystery clocks onto the wristwatch and a project that the brand had injected a lot of time into.
The skeleton edition of the watch was a combination of Cartier’s mastery of skeleton watchmaking aesthetics along with the mystery movement. The mystery display works via toothed sapphire crystal discs which the hands are connected to, and the discs are connected to the gear train, driving the hands as they are engaged.
The original model was in palladium, but the new editions with the 9983MC caliber are in pink gold with a pink gold skeleton dial that doubles as the bridges of the movement, as well as a decadent edition in white gold that is covered in brilliant-cut diamonds around the mystery display, skeleton dial, bezel and lugs. These models are in limited production but not serialized. All of these watches will be available from April 2020 onwards and interested customers can arrange an appointment with Cartier locally to purchase these models.
Manual-winding caliber 9983MC; hours and minutes; skeleton movement; 48-hour power reserve
42mm case in 18K pink gold; also available in 18K white gold fully set with brilliant-cut diamonds; water resistant to 30m
Alligator leather strap
Price CHF 81,000 (pink gold); CHF 129,000 (white gold with diamonds)