Here’s a TLDR tip for those of you who don’t need an introduction to Cartier’s decorative dial watches — skip ahead to the last five paragraphs for details on the new watch. There’s a bit of a refresher course directly ahead. All good? Let’s go.
I’m a pretty big fan of Cartier’s Métiers d’Art timepieces, especially when they venture into something a little different. When I first started writing about watches in 2010, the decorative dial arts were comprehensively represented in the Cartier range — mostly the ones we’re familiar with, such as enamelling, mosaic, marquetry, all that kind of stuff.
Not long after that, Cartier began going into the lesser-known branches of these established techniques. Grisaille enamel, for example, which layers blanc de Limoges (an opaque, viscous white enamel blend) on a black base to create startlingly three-dimensional chiaroscuro images. Plique-à-jour enamel, which holds panes of translucent enamel in delicate frames for a stained-glass effect.
Unusual materials, such as straw and even flower petals, were incorporated with dials using refined marquetry techniques and were characteristic of Cartier’s hunger to master a growing range of expertises (a trend also seen in their technical watchmaking department).