Six of the best
The exhibition explores six main themes: the evolution of Paris and its influence on Cartier shapes; Louis Cartier’s connections with Santos-Dumont and other pioneers of the age; the birth of the modern wristwatch; the everyday and sophisticated accessories designed to cater to a glamorous inter-war lifestyle; the evolution of Cartier watch designs; and Cartier craftsmanship, with a focus on mystery clocks and skeleton movements. And, although the majority of the exhibits were sourced from the Cartier Collection, there are also loans from the Collection of the Monaco Princely Palace Collection, the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace at Le Bourget airport and the Rockefeller Center. Beautifully balanced, items on display include wristwatches, pocket watches, mysterious clocks, cigarette cases, desk sets, posters, photographs and blueprints and even a replica of the Santos-Dumont plane.
But, at the heart of the exhibition is one of our greatest watch brands and the way it developed with and was influenced by the progression of the 20th century. On why Cartier deserves to be placed in this position, Sudjic says: “It’s a fundamental human characteristic to look for objects with which we can develop personal connections. Over the years there have been so many, from furniture to fountain pens. The watch, with its identity and potential carefully explored by Cartier and its peers, has managed to survive the digital revolution. This exhibition shows us how much handcraft and the material world, and the contemporary forms of craft and skill still have to offer. Throughout this exhibition, Cartier shows the close relationship between skill and design and demonstrates that, even in the era of mass production, individual skill still has a commanding presence.”
“I hope that seeing the exhibition will give people a greater knowledge of a specific period in time,” says Foster. “A time of a society in flux, where a new city was being created, one with radical engineering structures the likes of which had never been seen before, and the birth of the concept of speed. So, if somebody comes away having seen a very small object that has enabled them to understand the birth of things that we take for granted today and with a greater sense of enlightenment, then I have done my job. I think the interesting thing is that because it touches so many subjects it will appeal to a wider audience. If you are interested in architecture, in aircraft, in history and, of course in watches and jewellery, then there is something in Cartier in Motion for you.”