Cartier debuts an entirely new women’s collection today called Maillon de Cartier, featuring a chain-link bracelet with a playful twist that speaks directly to Cartier’s legacy as a maker of fine jewellery. The bracelet is the main focus here, featuring a chain-link design that is offset and aligned on the bias, like a braid of tightly interlocking links.
What is Maillon?
“Maillon” means links in French and has been used in Cartier jewellery for decades. For Cartier, links, straps and chains are a key motif — search Links and Chains Collection on its official website and you will find an assortment of Tank rings, Santos de Cartier bracelets and Maillon Panthère necklaces. Watch savants will immediately pick up on the fact that these jewellery pieces were born from watches first, inspired by the bracelets and links of the iconic watches that bear the same name, turned into embellishments you could wear not only on the wrist, but on the hands, neck and ears.
But the Maillon de Cartier is slightly different. Maillon was first used in the line of Panthère de Cartier jewellery, before we now see the design language transformed into a new line of wristwatches.
From Jewellery to Watch
Cartier says it themselves: the Maillon de Cartier is firstly a jewel designed by the Cartier watchmaking studios. Taking the form of the Maillon Panthère jewellery, Cartier gave the bracelet a little twist, forming an integrated bracelet style, like a braided rope that wraps itself around the wrist in a bold yet elegant manner.
“We wanted to deconstruct the bracelet and transcend its design through a volume approach. Emotion is in the movement and tension,” Marie-Laure Cérède, Timepiece Creation Director at Cartier, provides in the press release.
Form watches have always been Cartier’s strong suit, and it was their utmost ambition to structure the watch in a cohesive way, from the form of its links to its faceted case. The chain links absolutely integrate seamlessly to the hexagonally shaped bezel. The case, 16mm x 17mm with a thickness of 6.8mm, is entirely mirror polished.
Completing the watch is Cartier’s signature radiating Roman numerals on the dial and blued hour and minute sword hands. All versions are powered by a quartz movement.
The Maillon de Cartier is released in six versions, with the 18K yellow gold watch, with a single sapphire cabochon set on the crown, being the base model offering. A level up is the 18K pink gold and the 18K white gold versions, which come with a bezel set with brilliant-cut diamonds. There is also an 18K pink gold version with the case and bracelet set with brilliant-cut diamonds, and an extravagant version in 18K white gold with the case, dial and bracelet set with pavé diamonds.
The watch also comes in several limited edition models. The most exceptional version comes with a glossy black lacquer dial on a yellow gold bracelet with diamonds and black lacquer-bevelled links. This model is also the only one which comes with yellow gold hands. View the watch from the side and you’ll catch a glimpse of the black lacquer panels that flank the bracelet links, giving it a wondrous spotted look not unlike the original Panthère creations. This edition is limited to 50 pieces.
There is another limited edition model in 18K white god, where the case and dial is set with brilliant-cut diamonds, turquoise and green and blue lacquer. The design extends to the link bracelet, colour-coordinated with brilliant-cut diamonds, blue lacquer and tsavorites. This model is numbered and limited to 20 pieces.
The Maillon de Cartier is clearly for the ladies, a watch that is as much jewellery as it is watch – and not only because it’s powered by quartz. Cartier itself says as much; by taking the form of the Maillon Panthère jewellery that we know and love, and transforming it into a bracelet style that is bold enough to make a statement on its own. Personally, I can’t wait to get a hands-on with the timepiece to see how the links interlock with each other and to see how it feels on the wrist.
Quartz, hours and minutes
16mm x 17mm, height of 6.8mm, 18K yellow, pink or white gold, with or without diamonds, splash-resistant
18K yellow, pink or white gold chain-link bracelet with or without pavé diamonds
Silver with radiating Roman numerals, black lacquer (yellow gold version only) or pavé diamonds (white gold version only)
From €21,000 for the 18K yellow gold base model, €26,000 for the diamond-set bezel versions to €100,000 for the limited edition models in 18K yellow gold with a black lacquer dial.