These last two years have seen spectacular interpretations of the Cartier’s proprietary Astrotourbillon mechanism, the cinematic and visually arresting version of rotating escapement that Cartier Fine Watchmaking’s Carole Forestier-Kasapi first introduced within the maison’s horological repertoire in 2010.

Last year, the Astrotourbillon was combined with Cartier’s formidable expertise in openworked movements, resultingin the Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon Skeleton. This piece, which I personally consider the highlight of Cartier’s 2015 novelties (yes, even more than the grand complication!), might not have increased the store of technical savoir-faire in Cartier in the same way the Rotonde de Cartier Grande Complication did. However, its exceptional conceptual refinement and precise design articulation of the power and prestige of the maison, sets it apart in my book.

Just as the signature openworked structure of the Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon Skeleton showed its deep affinity with Cartier’s technical and aesthetic cornerstones at every stage, this year’s Rotonde de Cartier Astromystérieux is firmly anchored within the company’s historical expertise in mystery clocks.

The mysterious part of this type of display is not really that perplexing when you get right down to it — geared sapphire-crystal discs make it appear as if watch components are floating in space, turning via some sort of magical intervention. The magic is there, in no less wondrous form, through the creativity and technical ingenuity of the Cartier movement development team.

Those who have been following Cartier’s innovations in the realm of mystery time displays should not be surprised by this watch. Impressed, definitely, but certainly not surprised. The Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Double Tourbillon of 2013 should have cued everyone in, but just like a master magician demonstrating a signature move, Cartier have faced a familiar and expectant audience, and once again induced delight.

Cartier Rotonde De Cartier Astromystérieux

Movement: Caliber 9462 MC manual-winding movement; hours and minutes; mysterious central tourbillon; 50-hour power reserve

Case: 43.5mm; 950/1000 palladium; water-resistant to 30m

Strap: Alligator leather

Of course, when we turn the story over from the “expected” we find the Drive de Cartier — the maison’s new, unexpected and decidedly reserved collection of men’s watches. The collection offers three variations, presented with a delicately designed case that almost seems to morph into every case-shape known to horology when held at different angels.

In its most basic form, the Drive de Cartier displays hours, minutes, small seconds and date, enabled by the maison’s cal. 1904-PS MC movement. The second bears all of these basics, but add to travelers’ delight with a second time zone, day/night indicator and large date, powered by Cartier’s 1904-FU MC movement. Now the third is the proverbial cherry on the “Drive de Cartier pie” — a Fine Watchmaking version within the collection, with a flying-tourbillon cal. 9452 MC, bearing the Poinçon de Genève certification.

Cartier Drive De Cartier Watch, Large Date, Retrograde Second Time Zone And Day/Night Indicator

Movement: Caliber 1904-FU MC self-winding movement; hours and minutes; smalls seconds; second time zone, day/night indicator, large date

Case: 41mm x 40mm; 18K pink gold; water-resistant to 30m

Strap: Alligator leather