Tag Archives: cartier

A Centennial of Elegance: New Cartier Tank Americaine In Stainless Steel

Many variations on the theme, the Cartier Tank recently celebrated a centennial of watchmaking elegance. It’s historical irony that an accessory of such beauty was heralded by an instrument of war, inspired by Renault F17 World War I tank, Louis Cartier designed the original Cartier Tank watch as a gift for General John Pershing of the American Expeditionary Force. Encompassing a wide variety of styles, the Tank has been among the most versatile of Cartier watches, available in flavours like Tank Cintrée, the Tank Anglaise, the Tank Francaise, the Tank Louis Cartier, and the Tank Allongeé.

A Centennial of Elegance: New Cartier Tank Americaine In Stainless Steel

As an exemplar, the rectangular watch designed and produced in 1917, the Cartier Tank is undoubtedly one of the seminal watchmaking icons of our time. Although one doesn’t quite see the resemblance from the fore of the Renault Tank, one can hazard a guess from blueprint cross sections of the World War I F17 that the general elongated ‘H’ shape of the Cartier Tank’s case flanks can be ascribed to the Renault’s tank treads. Nevertheless, the new Cartier Tank Americaine In Stainless Steel is an entirely different creature altogether.

Taking muse from the 1921 Tank Cintrée, the original Cartier Tank Americaine was introduced in 1989. Positioned as a dress watch of utmost elegance, the Tank Americaine was available only in precious metals. For 2017, during the 100th anniversary of Cartier’s eponymous Tank, the maison is re-vamping and releasing a new Cartier Tank Americaine, this time in steel.

 

 

A trio of watches, the new Tank Americaine is a collection of three watches similar stainless steel watches, differentiated by their case proportions- the smallest of the three steel Cartier Tank Americaines measures 34.8mm x 19mm, and though driven by a quartz movement, the maison has opted to eschew the seconds hand, bequeathing it with a highly desirable aura of watchmaking purity. The middle of the three, the medium sized steel Tank Americaine measures 41.6mm x 22.6mm while the largest of the trio is proportioned 45.1mm x 26.6mm. The latter two steel Tanks are driven by an ETA automatic movement.

Aesthetically, all three are similarly appointed with silvered dial, decorated with a brushed center and then dressed with elongated Roman numerals which serve as a defacto border for the dial’s edge.  That said, we would be remiss to not mention the characteristic sapphire cabochon in the crown- a signature motif on all Cartier watches

New Steel Cartier Tank Americaine Price and Availability

The new Steel Cartier Tank Americaine is priced US$4,000 for the smallest, US$5,100 for the midsized, and US$5,750 for the largest. 

Shape Your Time: Exploring Square and Form Watches of 2017

 

 

Square watches, or in industry parlance: form or shaped watches are a fairly sizeable segment (given that Cartier produces AND sells so many of them, but more on that later). That is to say, even though there’s a preponderance of round watches in the industry, the belief that square or shaped watches only have a niche appeal is fundamentally unsound. However, significant conversations with retailers and brands alike all indicate that the round watch, if anything, will dominate even more than it already does. For our part, we find this very disappointing indeed.

The much-reported preference of markets (apparently everywhere) for round watches seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy that no brand has seriously challenged. Well, one brand is challenging it but because that brand is Apple, watchmaking firms have only expressed tepid interest. More often than not, the companies have expressed aggressive disinterest.

Shape Your Time: 2017 Resurgence of Form Watches

This will mean that square watches will indeed be scarce, as we will illustrate here, and that fact represents an opportunity for the most consummate of collectors. The important thing is of course to see if there is enough demand to create the right sort of imbalance. Of course, we will be steering clear of making predictions as to investment value and such. Our purpose here is only to highlight an opportunity.

Designing Time

Before getting into that, let us look at the design situation at the turn of the last century, when the taste for wristwatches was still nascent. Louis Cartier was a jeweler with a penchant for what former Cartier CEO Franco Cologni called square surfaces. It was at the turn of the previous century that Cartier entered into its famous partnership with Parisian watchmaker Edmond Jaeger, who himself was tied up with the LeCoultre watchmaking company in Switzerland. This partnership prefigured the commercial launch of the Santos watch in 1911, a move that heralded the arrival of all sorts of new shapes in watchmaking.

The Panthere de Cartier is the major form watch release for 2017 that carries the codes of the Tank and the Santos, as seen below and right.

The Panthere de Cartier is the major form watch release for 2017 that carries the codes of the Tank and the Santos, as seen below and right.

At this time, before watchmakers and the public had any idea of what the ideal wristwatch would be, it was truly a free-for-all in terms of design. According to Cologni, in his book Cartier The Tank Watch, Louis Cartier was moved first and foremost by form, believing it to be more important than function. Arguably, this is the beginning of an idea that has an inherent weakness for the development and future of wristwatches– that function should follow form.

In contemporary times, the late Apple impresario Steve Jobs redefined this with his products, recognizing that “design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” As far as watchmaking goes, the idea that design is how the object itself functions speaks to why so many watches today are round. Our daily time is indeed circular because that is what happens when you track the hours and minutes with hands. This powerful idea then shapes a powerful commercial argument.

Audemars Piguet is one of the few with a strong oval watch collection that also comes with a shaped movement

Audemars Piguet is one of the few with a strong oval watch collection that also comes with a shaped movement

The Audemars Piguet Millenary Quadriennium brought to life from the sketch before

The Audemars Piguet Millenary Quadriennium brought to life from the sketch before

Fragmented Collections

When asked about the new IWC Da Vinci being round despite the 2007 version being a refreshingly complex tonneau-tortue shape, here is what then-IWC CEO Georges Kern said: “The point is, 70 percent of the market is round watches. And the shaped segment is very limited and further segmented: square, rectangular, baignoire, tonneau… At the size IWC is today, with our reach, you need to be round because that’s what the market is.”

Kern was heading up watchmaking, marketing and digital for the Richemont Group overall so what he says carries weight far beyond IWC.

By virtue of its contrast bezel, the Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 PAM684 is a form watch hiding in round clothes.

By virtue of its contrast bezel, the Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 PAM684 is a form watch hiding in round clothes.

Despite predictions to the contrary, the Apple Watch Series 2 stuck with the rectangular shape and is water resistant to 50 metres.

Despite predictions to the contrary, the Apple Watch Series 2 stuck with the rectangular shape and is water resistant to 50 metres.

Franck Muller enjoyed a peak in the 90s and the early 2000s giving tonneau shaped watches a boost in popularity, pictured here, the Vanguard Fullback

Franck Muller enjoyed a peak in the 90s and the early 2000s giving tonneau shaped watches a boost in popularity, pictured here, the Vanguard Fullback

In fact, Kern’s estimation is generous considering that most informed sources consider round watches to be closer to 80 percent of the market. Before proceeding though, the market itself requires some definition because it does not only include the high-end market, meaning watches above US$1,000. In a 2015 article on the then-upcoming Apple Watch Series 2, no less than Forbes predicted that Apple would abandon its signature look in favour of the more conventional round shape. This prediction was based on the input of industry insiders and the like, and no doubt also took Jobs’ own philosophy into account. Of course, Apple confounded these expectations, illustrating again the hazards of journalists predicting outcomes. Considering that the Apple Watch 2 is both a status symbol and below US$1,000 (it is available for as little as $398 from the Apple Store), its very existence threatens the narrative that the market is overwhelmingly interested in round watches.

Exploring Form and Shaped Watches

Despite being, in the official lingo “timeless”, watches certainly mirror the era they are made and released in. This is what makes vintage watches from some periods – particularly the Art Deco age – so distinctive. Given the importance of heritage to the core of Swiss watchmaking – fine and otherwise – the brands have done a good job of retaining certain aesthetic touches across the ages. We have already gone into why Jaeger-LeCoultre shares the rectangular watch crown with Cartier. Both these firms maintain and champion in the 21st century a look that was already classic in the 1950s. But form watches – which are otherwise known as shaped watches – are not just rectangular of course

Patent drawing of the original Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

Patent drawing of the original Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

The 2017 Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duo owns the form space in classical styling

The 2017 Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duo owns the form space in classical styling

In official parlance, any watch that isn’t round is called a “form watch.” So that means everything from cushion-shaped Panerai watches to every collection from Cartier other than the Drive de Cartier, Cle de Cartier and Calibre de Cartier; we would argue that the popular Ballon Bleu is actually a form watch because it has a tactile appeal arising from its pebble shape. To look at the number of models in the form watch segment itself, we can only reference other magazines. Armbanduhren, a specialty German watch catalog, lists more than 1,000 models of watches (and has done since we began paying attention, in 2011). Of these more than 900 are round, meaning that form watches are roughly 10 percent of the annual offering.

If we take these numbers to base an extrapolation on, then we have roughly 10 percent of the watch models in any given year vying for potentially 30 percent of the market. Of course, we have no way of knowing just how many pieces are made and sold directly but it seems a good bet that only Cartier will be selling form watches in significant numbers.

Drive de Cartier pushes the cushion-shaped aesthetic, here in extra flat form.

Drive de Cartier pushes the cushion-shaped aesthetic, here in extra flat form.

This brings us to sales, briefly. Forbes ranks Rolex as the top-selling brand of high-end Swiss watches and Omega as the third. Guess what brand occupies the second rung? Yes, the standard-bearer of form watches itself, the Panthere of fine watchmaking, Cartier sells the most watches annually, other than Rolex.

Square and Rectangle Watches

The Tank is probably the most famous form watch in the world, rivaled only by the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. If one throws in the very popular and aforementioned Santos, also from Cartier, as well as the Twenty4, Nautilus and Aquanaut from Patek Philippe, and the Cintrex Curvex from Franck Muller, these are probably the most widely known form watches on the planet. Leaving all these aside and returning to just Cartier, this powerful brand has sought to increase its market share by unleashing an array of round watches but of these, the Ballon Bleu is so rounded that it resembles a sort of magical pebble that tells the time. The shape of this watch is, arguably, what made it an unqualified success. Nevertheless, Cartier clearly feels like its best shot at gaining market share lies with round watches, lending no small amount of credence to Kern’s statement.

Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5168G

Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5168G

The Bulgari Octo Tourbillon Sapphire shows off its form with a sapphire case middle

The Bulgari Octo Tourbillon Sapphire shows off its form with a sapphire case middle

 

In the early days of wristwatches (pocket watches were almost universally round and so are contemporary executions, Tom Ford’s attempt to transform the Apple Watch notwithstanding), firms experimented with wildly differing shapes, only a few of which remain well known today. In the era of properly water resistant watches though, most wristwatches are round and that is just because it is much simpler to achieve ISO water resistance standards when the case of the watch is round. Once again, function keeps interfering with the notion of the form watch

The reason for this water resistance bit could very well fill another article but, to cover it briefly and intuitively, just think of how easily a rubber gasket would work with a round watch as opposed to a rectangular one. It is for this reason that even brands with a yen for specific shapes (or even just one shape in particular) opt for the round shape when necessary.

Bell & Ross makes a point about exceptional water resistance (300 metres) with the BR 03-92 Diver

Bell & Ross makes a point about exceptional water resistance (300 metres) with the BR 03-92 Diver

Function versus Form

An excellent, if obvious, case in point here is the Richard Mille diver watch while the equally obvious counterpoint is Bell & Ross. In fact, Bell & Ross raised the roof at BaselWorld this year by releasing a diver’s watch that maintained the brand’s signature square look. It is important to note that in this case, no pun intended, the display of time is round allowing Bell & Ross to package both form and function into the mix; obviously, the brand had to work hard to achieve exceptional water resistance in this unusual shape and that should only increase its appeal.

This example aside, function is arguably the strongest reason explaining why the watchmaking trade has doubled down on the round shape in recent years, The aforementioned standard bearers of form watches such as Jaeger-LeCoultre and Cartier are both betting big on round while Omega – once a stellar producer of shaped watches – now only features the odd bullhead and Ploprof for variation. Omega is the third largest maker of high-end mechanical timepieces in Switzerland and it has no other shape in its regular collections but round.

Richard Mille RM50-03

Richard Mille RM50-03

As for the number one spot, Rolex reintroduced the world to the rectangular Prince in 2005 in what was then considered to be yet another of the brand’s calculated surprise moves. It followed up by proposing the Cellini as a brand new tuxedo-friendly family in its collection. Unfortunately, Rolex unceremoniously ditched the rectangular Prince, with the model not even worthy of a mention on its website. If you have never heard of the Rolex Prince, it is as if it never existed…

What is particularly unfortunate here is that this is Rolex, a brand unafraid to go its own way. Perhaps no other major brand would take a chance on something major that would require some getting used to, such as the Sky-Dweller and the Yacht-Master II. If the rectangular Prince can’t make it here then the majors are truly closed for business on the form watch side. On the other hand, there are still pristine examples of the Prince available and this quirky little dressy number may yet have its day.

 

Chameleons: A Case in Between

All this points to the obvious truth that few brands care enough about the form segment to flood the market with options, making what’s available all the more precious. This is what Officine Panerai so smartly trades on, even resolving professional tool watch issues without compromising on the shape of the watches. Brands such as this are few and far between, and bring this story to a special class of offerings.

Audemars Piguet leads the way in disguising round watches as form watches... or is it vice versa?

Audemars Piguet leads the way in disguising round watches as form watches… or is it vice versa?

Another great chameleon in this arena is Audemars Piguet, the maker of the highly idiosyncratic Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore watches. The shape here feels distinctive yet it maintains a sort of amorphous state, being perhaps close enough to being round that the unsuspecting eye accepts it as such. Of course, it might also be a round watch masquerading as an octagonal one. Indeed, case, bezel and crystal all come together in masterful fashion to surprise both eye and hand. In short, it is a rather beautiful ambiguity that Audemars Piguet shares here with Panerai.

Other brands too have their place here, including one collection from Patek Philippe with a shared progenitor as the Royal Oak – the Nautilus, and by extension the Aquanaut. Speaking of the great Gerald Genta, it would be remiss to ignore the current Bulgari Octo collection. Bulgari’s determination to convince the world of the virtues of its Octo shape is remarkable, making this brand one of the leading lights of the form watch segment.

Engine of Demand

Taken together, the brands that champion form watches because that is what they must do to survive and, further to that, thrive, perform an invaluable service to watchmaking as a whole – and to collectors by extension. They serve to drive the engine of demand, which is a far more difficult beast to understand than supply.

To put it another way, if while pushing their own goals and growth targets, these corporations also happen to create a little demand for gems of the past such as the A. Lange & Sohne Cabaret or the Rolex Prince, so much the better for collectors, especially those who are already moving in this direction. For those on the sidelines, the success of a particular model can lead to the brand reviving the model in its current collection or increasing its offering, thus building even more cachet and demand. There is actually a proper example of this, which brings us back to Audemars Piguet and Cartier.

The original release of the so-called Series A of the Royal Oak numbered only 1,000 watches yet the ensuing popularity of the model translated to innumerable iterations over the years. This collection – and the Royal Oak Offshore – probably contributes the lion’s share of the brand’s reported figure of 40,000 plus watches sold annually. Finishing our tale at Cartier, where we started, the success of the Tank watch might arguably be correlated to the success of Cartier as a force in high-end watchmaking. While the Royal Oak has just the Royal Oak Offshore as an offshoot, the Tank has quite a number of descendants. The popularity of the Tank with collectors inspired Cartier to create extensive options here, with no less than six different families of Tank watches available, with multiple references in each family. Not bad at all for a watch that started with just six models for sale in Paris in 1919.

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30 Degree Asymmetrical

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30 Degree Asymmetrical

Minor Leagues: Where Independent watchmakers stand on Shaped Watches

Where the big brands have circled the wagons, so to speak, it is quite a different story at smaller outfits such as Azimuth, Bell & Ross, MB&F, SevenFriday, Urwerk and others. Certainly some, especially classical names such as Philippe Dufour and Laurent Ferrier, trade on a certain inner beauty but even here, some are not afraid to bust out of the circle. This is most obvious in the watches of Greubel Forsey, where the cases literally bulge in odd ways when the function calls for it. Obviously, when one makes very small numbers of watches it is possible to take certain risks. Here’s how Max Busser of MB&F puts it:

“It’s a question of horological integrity; I’ve said from the beginning that MB&F is not going to put round movements in funky shaped cases because we’re not designers. We’re mechanical artists. This is what separates marketers from creators; If you want to please the market you probably won’t take creative risks. The bigger the company, the more you will be inclined to please the market.”

Busser’s point here extends to watches at many different prices points, as evidenced by Kickstarter notables such as Momentum Labs, Helgray and Xeric. Obviously, Kickstarter projects are defined by the marketplace so the vast majority of projects there are round watches but there are significant alternatives, which one can discover by looking at the offering from those three names.

 

Form Watch Movements

Proportionally, it is rewarding when watchmakers equip a rectangular watch with a movement with exactly the right shape. In first half of the 20th century, it was quite normal to expect form watches to come with movements in the corresponding shape. The idea was to have the mechanical movement function as a sort of kinetic sculpture, one where function followed form. Today, form movements are the exception rather than the rule, even within the increasingly limited area of form watches. Given that form watches as a whole are like an endangered horological species, this story concerns itself with the shape of the watch as a whole rather than the shape of the movement.

The Tank Louis Cartier and Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre 944 are both examples of kinetic sculptures

The Tank Louis Cartier and Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre 944 are both examples of kinetic sculptures

Nevertheless, an entire class of collectors follows this segment and connoisseurs of mechanical watches are always pleased when watchmakers make an effort to match the shape of the movement with the shape of the watch so in this section we will look at the history of such efforts and suggest why they have fallen out of favor, although the simple answer as to why your cushion-shaped watch comes with a round movement is not hard to fathom: it makes sense from a cost and reliability perspective.

With apologies to Louis Cartier and to play devil’s advocate, what value does it really speak to that function should follow form? It is by no means a recent development that we consider function more important than form. To reference the main part of this story, this speaks to why the Apple Watch is rectangular.

Jobs’ design ideology finds its spiritual cousin in the watchmaking philosophy of Jaeger-LeCoultre, at least when it comes to the Reverso. Other than the Squadra, the Art Deco icon has always been equipped with a form movement and its case shape was dictated by function. The Reverso has the shape that it does to facilitate its defining reversible function. Function though is where form movements run into trouble, for one obvious reason: automatic winding, or rather the lack thereof.

The newly launched Tiffany Square Watch comes with its bonafide form, square shaped movement. A rarity even amongst specialist watchmakers.

The newly launched Tiffany Square Watch comes with its bonafide form, square shaped movement. A rarity even amongst specialist watchmakers.

Since at least the 1960s, the watch buying public has sought out automatic models. Once again, you can look to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso models over the years to see how this played. For the most part, the Reverso has been equipped with manual-winding calibers, all form ones of course. For self-winding models, in the Reverso Squadra and elsewhere, the Grand Maison uses round movements. Cartier sidestepped the issue though because Edmond Jaeger designed and equipped the early Cartier form watches with round LeCoultre movements.

Check out the latest Tiffany Square Watch which joined body (and movement), the pantheon of shaped watches.

 

The Rotonde de Cartier Panthere Granulation uses gold granulation to create the motif of a panther’s head on its dial

Take a Look inside Cartier’s Maison des Métiers d’Art

Cartier’s Maison des Métiers d’Art in La Chaux-de-Fond, which is established in a converted farmhouse dating back to the late 18th century

Cartier’s Maison des Métiers d’Art in La Chaux-de-Fond, which is established in a converted farmhouse dating back to the late 18th century

Metiers d’art watches demand specific savoir faire such as guillochage or micro-painting, which often fall outside the usual purview of watchmaking. To produce such watches, some brands choose to partner with external craftspeople, who provide the expertise necessary to bring a particular design to fruition. It’s an elegant (and convenient) solution, because these watches tend to have limited runs anyway, so the brand is free to pursue new projects once its current ones end.

Cartier, on the other hand, decided to bring these savoir faire under its roof – literally – when it established its Maison des Métiers d’Art in La Chaux-de-Fond. Such integration echoes its efforts elsewhere within the manufacture, which now boasts six facilities across Switzerland with capabilities such as vintage clock and watch restoration, hand production, and the manufacture of watch crystals with exotic shapes. Consolidating a range of metiers into a single space doesn’t just allow a brand to reap the typical advantages of having “in-house” expertise, like shorter product development cycles. As Cartier has shown, when such know-how reaches a critical mass, it becomes possible to push the boundaries and either create new artisanal techniques and crafts, or adapt existing ones specifically to the context of watches.

Take a Look inside Cartier’s Maison des Métiers d’Art , introducing the Ronde Louis Cartier XL Flamed Gold watch

Take a Look inside Cartier’s Maison des Métiers d’Art , introducing the Ronde Louis Cartier XL Flamed Gold watch

Painting with fire: Take a Look inside Cartier’s Maison des Métiers d’Art

The latest metiers d’art technique that Cartier has developed is flamed gold, which combines elements of engraving and heat treatment. These are applied to an 18K white gold alloy that Cartier developed with its external supplier; the alloy’s unusually high iron content allows its surface to oxidise and take on different colours when heated to different temperatures, much like how steel watch hands are blued by heating.

Take a Look inside Cartier’s Maison des Métiers d’Art, here, the white gold dial of an unassembled Ronde Louis Cartier XL Flamed Gold watch being fired with a blowtorch

Take a Look inside Cartier’s Maison des Métiers d’Art, here, the white gold dial of an unassembled Ronde Louis Cartier XL Flamed Gold watch being fired with a blowtorch

To create the panther motif seen on the dial of the Ronde Louis Cartier XL Flamed Gold watch, the Maison des Métiers d’Artisan first heats the entire dial to the highest permissible temperature with a blowtorch to create an evenly blue canvas. The portions of the dial that are supposed to take on a different colour are then scratched with a ceramic tool to remove the oxidised surface and expose the original white gold dial underneath. The blue portions are masked off before heat is applied again, but to a lower temperature this time to create a different colour. The various shades of beige and brown are achieved sequentially on the dial, in a process that requires five separate applications of heat. Besides removing “unwanted” colours off sections of the dial, scratching is also responsible for creating the nuanced textures on the panther – note how the panther’s sclera, for example, has been engraved with lines that radiate outwards from its iris.

The unwanted portions of the dial that have been blued are scratched with a ceramic tool to reveal the unaltered surface underneath

The unwanted portions of the dial that have been blued are scratched with a ceramic tool to reveal the unaltered surface underneath

Each flame gold dial takes an artisan nearly 50 hours to complete, and the challenges of the technique are manifold. For a start, the oxidation process is irreversible, yet gradual, so the artisan must judge the change in colour accurately and stop firing the dial the moment the exact shade of blue/brown that she needs is achieved, lest the dial is “overheated” and acquires the wrong hue. Compounding this is the way subsequent applications of heat still affect the masked portions of the dial, however subtly, which must be anticipated by the artisan. The technique also demands cleanliness, as microscopic specks of dust will mask the dial and cause imperfections to surface during heating. Finally, to further complicate things, consider the size of the canvas that the artisan has to work with – a deft touch and an eye for micro details are basic requirements, to say the least.

Several designs for the panther motif were considered for the first watch to feature the flamed gold technique

Several designs for the panther motif were considered for the first watch to feature the flamed gold technique

Cartier Métiers d’Art – Bead matching

Enamel granulation is also a technique developed by Cartier, and combines gold granulation with enamelling. Granulation is a technique first made famous by Etruscans around 3,000 years ago, and involves decorating an object by paving it with tiny granules of precious metal, usually gold, to create a textured surface. Cartier debuted this technique in its timepieces in 2013, when it released the Rotonde de Cartier Panthere Granulation, which had a panther’s head rendered with the technique using 22K yellow gold.

Enamelling is a technique that requires no introduction, but Cartier’s mastery of this technique bears mentioning. Essentially, enamelling involves working with coloured glass powders in paint form, before firing the product at various temperatures to either set the enamel or vitrify it. Commonly seen enamelling techniques are champlevé, where cells are carved from the dial and filled with enamel, and cloisonné, where cells are formed by soldering wires onto the dial. Cartier’s expertise with enamelling extends to far more esoteric variants such as plique-à-jour, which uses hollow cells without a “base”, and grisaille, which is an extremely challenging technique of painting white enamel on a black enamel base.

The Rotonde de Cartier Panthere Granulation uses gold granulation to create the motif of a panther’s head on its dial

The Rotonde de Cartier Panthere Granulation uses gold granulation to create the motif of a panther’s head on its dial

This Rotonde de Cartier watch’s tiger motif uses grisaille enamel, an extremely challenging technique that’s capable of creating highly nuanced details

This Rotonde de Cartier watch’s tiger motif uses grisaille enamel, an extremely challenging technique that’s capable of creating highly nuanced details

Combining the two results in enamel granulation, which requires two distinct stages of production. Enamel is first drawn into threads, before tiny sections of it are broken off and re-melted using a flame. The re-melting causes the enamel to coalesce into a bead, with its size dependent on the thread’s diameter and how much of it was cut off. The first part of the process is thus to create enamel beads of various colours that are then sorted by size using a series of sieves. The second part of the technique is the actual application of the beads onto the dial, which has the panther’s outline formed with wires a la the cloisonné technique. The beads and enamel filling in the cells are applied colour by colour, then fired at different temperatures to set them sequentially. The final result combines the best aspects of granulation and enamelling. On one hand, granulation produces beads of different sizes for a textured dial with three-dimensional details. On the other, enamelling is responsible for the range of colours that gold alone cannot achieve.

The Ballon Bleu De Cartier Vibrating Setting watch

The Ballon Bleu De Cartier Vibrating Setting watch

Cartier Métiers d’Art – Set in motion

Dubbed “the jeweller of kings and the king of jewellers” by Edward VII of England, Cartier Métiers d’Art has 170 years of heritage in making jewellery and jewelled watches. The production of jewellery and jewelled watches is actually split between the brand’s workshop in Paris and the Maison des Métiers d’Art in La Chaux-de-Fond for capacity reasons, with projects completely assigned to either facility. In contrast to the computer-aided design workflow that characterises watch and movement development at Cartier, jewellery – especially high jewellery – is still produced in the most traditional way possible, beginning with two-dimensional sketches. Following this, wax models are carved and analysed before undergoing refinements to arrive at the final design, which then enters production.

A wax mock-up of a jewellery piece, with the half finished product below it

A wax mock-up of a jewellery piece, with the half finished product below it

The Baguette Panthère watch uses the invisible setting, snow setting, and bezel setting techniques

The Baguette Panthère watch uses the invisible setting, snow setting, and bezel setting techniques

Cartier’s jewellery-making ability isn’t impressive simply because of its capability to do things in-house, but also due to the sheer breadth of setting techniques it uses – and has developed. The maison has a variety of gem-setting styles at its disposal, from the common bezel setting and claw (or prong) setting, to more exotic ones like cutdown pave setting and random (or snow) setting. The exact style used depends on the required aesthetics, as well as the size of the gem to be set – snow setting, for instance, doesn’t just require stones of different sizes, but also works best with smaller stones, while cutdown pave setting is better suited for larger stones due to the difference in the perceived size of the stone vis-à-vis the metal prongs holding it in place.

Gems needn’t be static when set, though, as Cartier showed in 2015 when it unveiled vibrating setting in the Ballon Bleu De Cartier Vibrating Setting watch. Inspired by the trembling setting the maison introduced in the late 19th century, vibrating setting is used here to affix the diamonds to the dial, and took five years of research to develop. The mechanical structure used is as yet unrevealed, but this setting style is invisible and allows each diamond, which measures 0.3 carats, to move to some degree, as if it were affixed to a spring. The result is a “floating layer” of diamonds that are set in motion with the slightest disturbance to the watch, which causes them to shimmer unlike any fixed setting. To further accentuate this effect, Cartier gave the white gold dial an NAC treatment to render it black, which makes the reflections from the diamond seem even brighter.

Cartier’s in-house metiers d’art expertise has allowed the maison to develop new artisanal techniques like the ones described. What’s perhaps even more exciting, is to see how they are refined and improved upon in subsequent iterations.

Exhibitions in London and Paris: Luxury jeweller Cartier presents ‘Autophoto’ and ‘Cartier in Motion’

William Eggleston, ‘Los Alamos series’, 1974. Image courtesy Eggleston Artistic Trust, Memphis

French fine jeweller and watchmaker, Cartier, challenges traditional ideas of art and design with its two new exhibitions, ‘Autophoto’ and ‘Cartier in Motion’, presenting at Paris and London respectively.

Best known as a luxury goods manufacturer specialising in jewellery and wristwatches, Cartier’s presence in the art world is nevertheless substantial. Marked by the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain — the brand’s answer to the demands of a world where the boundaries surrounding the concept of “art” have become increasingly blurred — Cartier’s association with art is clear in its initiatives as well as its products. Based in Paris, the museum was built in 1984 to raise awareness about contemporary art; today, it is an internationally recognised non-profit organisation that continues to act as a prime space for creative and artistic expression, exhibiting works from various genres of contemporary art, including photography, design, fashion, fine art and performance.  

Image courtesy Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain.

The brand’s eclectic ideals are evident in its exhibition, ‘Autophoto’. Showing at the Fondation Cartier, the exhibition places the spotlight on the unusual topic of automobile photography. A genre that emerged in the mid-20th century amidst cultural symbolism of freedom and independence, the automobile as a subject of photography has been facing a decline in recent years as the industry veers towards almost universal mass-production. In a collection of over 500 works by more than 90 photographers, it focuses on the relationship between photography and automobiles, as well as the various aspects of automotive culture in a demonstration of the aesthetic, social, environmental and industrial influences of the automobile from the 20th century to the present.

Andrew Bush, ‘Woman Waiting to Proceed South at Sunset and Highland Boulevards, Los Angeles, at Approximately 11:59 a.m. One Day in February 1997’, 1997. Image courtesy M+B Gallery, Los Angeles.

In an initiative much closer to home is an exhibition focusing on the brand’s own unique history, titled ‘Cartier in Motion’. Curated by award-winning British architect Norman Foster, the exhibition explores the evolution of Cartier watchmaking design through the ages, from early 20th-century Parisian ideas of luxury and opulence, to contemporary concepts that emphasise sleekness and elegance.

Design Museum London. Image courtesy Hufton + Crow.

‘Autophoto’ will run at Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain in Paris until 24 September. ‘Cartier in Motion’ will run at the Design Museum, London until 28 July.

ilyda chua

Christie’s Auction of The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Cartier Tank Realizes $379,500. You’d never believe who bought it.

On 21 June 2017, Christie’s Auction House announced that the highly watched Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Cartier Tank realized $379,500 at Rare Watches and American Icons New York auction only just after three minutes of bidding and over a dozen individual public and private bids.

The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Cartier Tank was gifted to the First Lady from brother-in-law Prince Stanislaw “Stas” Radziwill in on 23 February 1963, just nine months before 22 November 1963, when husband and President, John F. Kennedy was assassinated as he rode in a motorcade through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas.

The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Cartier Tank was gifted to the First Lady from brother-in-law Prince Stanislaw “Stas” Radziwill in on 23 February 1963

The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Cartier Tank was gifted to the First Lady from brother-in-law Prince Stanislaw “Stas” Radziwill in on 23 February 1963

Christie’s Auction of The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Cartier Tank Realizes $379,500

Jackie Kennedy wore this Cartier Tank primarily during her life and she’s captured in many iconic photographs with the distinctively elegant Cartier Tank. The famed Cartier watch features caseback engraving “Stas to Jackie 23 Feb. 63 2:05 am to 9:35 pm.” referring to the start and stop times of Prince Radziwill’s famous 50-Mile Hike in Palm Beach to promote health awareness and physical fitness.

Caseback engraving of The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Cartier Tank with engraving from Prince Stanislaw “Stas” Radziwill commemorating the 50-mile hike

Caseback engraving of The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Cartier Tank with engraving from Prince Stanislaw “Stas” Radziwill commemorating the 50-mile hike

President Kennedy had asked the American people to adopt a practice of mental and physical fitness by completing the challenge of walking 50-Miles regularly. it was a practice which became popular for a time, encouraged mostly by the popularity of the President and the example of the First family and friends. At the height of the short-fad for long distance walking, Jackie Kennedy made an original painting of Stas Radziwill and Chuck Spalding as a gift for Prince Radziwill in commemoration of the hike with the dedication “February 23, 1963 2:05 am to 9:35 pm / Jackie to Stas with love and admiration”.

Kim Kardashian bid and won First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s Cartier Tank watch

Kim Kardashian placed the winning bid of US$379,500 for Jackie Kennedy's Cartier Tank

Kim Kardashian placed the winning bid of US$379,500 for Jackie Kennedy’s Cartier Tank

The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Cartier Tank was estimated to fetch US$60,000 – $120,000 and according to TMZ, (editor’s note: Never would I imagine ever quoting TMZ as a source), the bid for Christie’s First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s Cartier watch was won by none other than Kim Kardashian. Apparently, after being robbed in Paris last year, Kardashian was looking to be “less flashy” – the Cartier Tank is widely considered to be an example of understated sophistication.

“Today’s New York sale of The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Cartier Tank was a thrilling auction moment for our watch department and for the thousands of people that have been following the journey of this watch from its discovery to the monumental sale today. After three minutes of spirited bidding in the saleroom, online and by phone, the sale ultimately concluded at $379,500. The story of this watch is full of emotion, love and history and will surely be remembered for years to come. This watch is a true American Icon.” – John Reardon, International Head of Christie’s Watches

Kim Kardashian placed a secret bid for First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s Cartier watch, eventually winning the historic tank watch with a bid of US$379,500! Additionally, Kim Kardashian also placed bids for the accompanying Stas Radziwill and Chuck Spalding hike painting which was previously unknown to the public. Christie’s considers the Jackie Kennedy’s Cartier tank and painting to be two of the most important historical artifacts to surface in recent years from the golden era of the Kennedy Presidency.

Jackie Kennedy made an original painting of Stas Radziwill and Chuck Spalding as a gift for Prince Radziwill in commemoration of the hike

Jackie Kennedy made an original painting of Stas Radziwill and Chuck Spalding as a gift for Prince Radziwill in commemoration of the hike

 

 

 

The Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Hour with a 42-millimetre palladium case

Cartier watches from SIHH 2017: Novelty timepiece Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Hour

The Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Hour with a 42-millimetre palladium case

The Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Hour with a 42-millimetre palladium case

Here’s an experiment for you: Let’s assume that a sheet of paper represents the entirety of watches in the market. A circle the size of a can bottom should represent those with off-centered time indications, while skeletonised watches should fit within another circle of roughly the same size. Following this, the meagre population of mysterious watches should occupy a space not larger than a pill. In that tiny, tiny space where these three circles intersect, what watch would we find? Obviously, it is the Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Hour watch and, needless to say, it is the only watch there. Such is the extent of the uniqueness offered by this SIHH 2017 novelty.

The mysterious hour indication is a mechanical art of illusions — horological legerdemain if you will — famously associated with Cartier. While not as eye-catching as the tourbillon or as deeply choreographic as the perpetual calendar, the complication is magical in its own way.

Cartier produced its first mysterious clock in 1912 with the hour and the minute hands seemingly floating in the air; they are in fact borne by one sapphire disc each. These discs would have teeth on their circumference so they can be engaged and turned by the specially designed movement. Cartier has since miniaturised the mechanism to fit in wristwatches, and a reasonable variety of mysterious watches were offered in recent years.

More importantly, this Rotonde de Cartier piece marks the first time a mysterious watch from the French Maison is skeletonised to reveal the movement parts responsible for the magic of time display. Cartier is no stranger to this art, having first experimented with it in the 1930s. Then, in 2009, the firm developed its hallmark style of skeletonisation in the shape of Roman numerals, which is put to good use here. As the time display is off-centered to the left, the different numbers are radially elongated to fill the space from the sapphire discs to the inner cavity of the case. And in the true Cartier form, the crown is set with a prominent sapphire cabochon.

As watch buyers, we often ask the manufactures to deliver the kind of spectacles that will delight and surprise us. The Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Hour watch is exactly that, with curiosity-provoking techniques and sober aesthetics that are never boring. It is not a loud timepiece, but the impact it has on the observers can be lasting, as is the joy it brings to its owner.

Specifications

Movement Manual-winding Calibre 9983 MC
Power Reserve 48-hour
Case 42-millimetre palladium
Water Resistance Up to 30 metres
Strap Black alligator strap with white gold folding buckle
Price Unavailable

This article was originally published in WOW.

Grisaille enamel painting for Van Cleef & Arpels’s Midnight Nuit Boréale

Six Enamelling Techniques used for luxury watch making, from Patek Philippe to Cartier, Hermès and more

Enamelling at Swiss watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne

Enamelling at Swiss watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne

Enamelling is a tedious process, to put it mildly. The raw material must first be ground into a fine powder, then mixed with a suitable medium (oils or water are both used) to form a paint-like emulsion. This liquid is then applied like paint, before being fired in a kiln to vitrify it the medium evaporates, while the powder melts and fuses into glass. There are variations to these steps, of course. Some manufactures, for example, choose to sieve the power directly onto a base of either brass or gold, and fire this “layer” of powder directly. Whatever the process, every step is fraught with danger. The product may crack during the firing process. Unseen impurities may surface as imperfections. Colours may react in unexpected ways. There are numerous risks to endure. Why, then, does this technique continue to be used in watchmaking?

Despite all its drawbacks, enamel still has a depth and nuance that cannot be replicated anywhere else. It is also permanent vitrified enamel is essentially inert and, like noble metals, remains unchanged even a century from now. Different enamelling techniques are capable of creating a wide spectrum of products as well, from a single large surface free of blemishes, to microscopic levels of detail as part of a painting. Perhaps the romantic aspect of this metiers d’art also accounts for part of its appeal; the time and touch of the enamellist is the perfect counterpoint to the watchmaker, with art on one side and science on the other.

Variations on a Theme

Enamels are fired at various temperatures or not at all depending on their types. Grand feu (literally “great fire”) enamel is fired at around 820 degrees Celsius, although intermediate firings to “set” it may be at around 100 degrees Celsius, to boil the solvent off without fusing the powder. Enamels in general, including those used in miniature painting, may also be fired at around 100 degrees Celsius instead. Finally, there is cold enamel, an epoxy resin that cures and hardens at room temperature.

There are no hard and fast rules to the craft; every enamellist has his/her own materials and approach

There are no hard and fast rules to the craft; every enamellist has his/her own materials and approach

What difference does it make? For a start, higher temperatures are definitely more difficult to work with, since the enamel may crack during firing, or the subsequent cooling down process. The spectrum of colours used in grand feu enamelling is also more limited, as there are fewer compounds that can withstand the temperature. The choice of technique boils down to the desired product for all its drawbacks, grand feu enamel has an inimitable look.

Seiko’s Presage SRQ019 chronograph with white enamel dial

Seiko’s Presage SRQ019 chronograph with white enamel dial

Enamels, porcelains, and lacquers all share common properties of hardness, durability, and the ability to take on both matte and polished finishes. The three aren’t interchangeable though. Lacquer is an organic finish that is applied in layers, with each successive coat curing at room temperature before the next is added. Porcelain is a ceramic that is produced by firing materials in a kiln to vitrify them. Although enamel is also fired, it only contains glass and colouring compounds and lacks porcelain’s clay content.

Raised Fields

In champlevé enamelling, a thick dial base is engraved to create hollow cells, before these cavities are filled with enamel and fired. Because the engraving step produces rough surfaces at the bottom of each cell, the champlevé technique typically uses only opaque enamels. The method allows areas on the dial to be selectively excavated, and for enamels to be mixed freely within each dial. This is done to great effect in Piaget’s Emperador Coussin XL Large Moon Enamel watch, where the gold dial is largely untouched for the “continents”, while the “oceans” are created in champlevé enamel, with differing shades of blue to convey their varying depths.

An excavated cell in Ulysse Nardin’s Classico Goat being filled with enamel using the champlevé technique

An excavated cell in Ulysse Nardin’s Classico Goat being filled with enamel using the champlevé technique

Champlevé enamelling’s use isn’t limited to creating decorative art. In Parmigiani Fleurier’s Tecnica Ombre Blanche, for instance, it was simply the most appropriate technique. Although the timepiece has a simple white enamel dial, its surface is interrupted by three sub-dials and an aperture for the tourbillon. Using champlevé enamelling here allowed each dial element to have a clearly defined border without adding unnecessary thickness. A possible alternative would be to make a complete enamel dial, before cutting out the appropriate sections in the middle. One can, however, imagine the risks of doing that.

Patek Philippe’s Ref. 6002 combines champlevé and cloisonné enamelling

Patek Philippe’s Ref. 6002 combines champlevé and cloisonné enamelling

Is there a limit to the level of details that can be achieved with champlevé enamel? Patek Philippe may have the answer with the Ref. 6002 Sky Moon Tourbillon. Apart from the centre portion, which is produced using the cloisonné technique (discussed later), its dial is a work of champlevé enamel even the railway track chapter ring was milled out in relief, before the recesses are filled with enamel and fired.

Engraving isn’t necessarily the only way to produce the cells used in champlevé enamel though. Hublot puts a modern twist on things with the Classic Fusion Enamel Britto, by stamping the white gold dial base to create the raised borders between the cells. This not only reduces the time needed for each dial but also ensures uniformity between them. Subsequent steps, however, remain unchanged the cells were sequentially filled with different colours of enamel and fired multiple times before the entire dial surface is polished to form a uniformly smooth surface.

Wire Work

Cloisonné enamelling is almost like the opposite of the champlevé technique instead of removing material from a dial blank, things are added on it instead. The “cloisons” (literally “partitions”) here refer to the wires, each no thicker than a human hair, that the enamellist bends into shape and attaches onto a base to create enclosed cells. These cells are then filled with enamel of different colours before the dial is fired to fuse the powder. The wires remain visible in the final product, and look like outlines of a drawing, with a metallic sheen that contrasts with the glassy surfaces of the enamel.

Wires are shaped and attached to a dial to form cells, before enamel is painted in

Wires are shaped and attached to a dial to form cells, before enamel is painted in

Plique-à-jour (“letting in daylight”) enamel can be considered a variation of cloisonné enamel, but the technique is a lot rarer owing to its complexity and fragility. Like its cloisonné sibling, plique-à-jour enamelling involves creating enclosed cells using wires, before filling them with enamel. In this case, however, there is no base. The lack of a backing can be achieved in various ways, but usually involves working on a base layer à la cloisonné enamelling, before filing it away to leave just the wires holding onto vitrified enamel. Since there is no base, plique-à-jour enamelling almost always involves transparent or translucent enamel that allows light through, which essentially creates tiny stained glass windows.

A dial in cloisonné enamel is in the making

A dial in cloisonné enamel is in the making

Van Cleef & Arpels has used the above technique to great effect. In the Lady Arpels Jour Nuit Fée Ondine watch, a 24-hour module rotates a graduated lower dial once a day to mimic Earth’s diurnal rhythm, while an upper dial with elements executed in plique-à-jour enamel forms the foreground. The watch thus creates an ever-changing scene that mimics the rising and setting of the sun and moon, with the appropriate shades of blue for the sky and water, depending on the time of the day.

Hybrid Theory

There are several “hybrid” techniques that combine enamelling with other decorative arts, and flinqué enamelling is arguably the best known given its long history of use. The technique combines guillochage with enamelling a brass or gold dial is first decorated with guilloché, before layers of enamel are successively applied and fired. When this enamel coating is sufficiently thick, it is polished to create a smooth surface; the final result is a translucent lens through which the guilloché is admired. Depending on the desired effect, the enamel used may be colourless to impart a subtle sheen, or coloured for more visual oomph, like the trio of limited edition Rotonde de Cartier high complications unveiled at Watches & Wonders 2015. Vacheron Constantin has even adapted the technique by using guilloché patterns to mimic woven fabrics in the Métiers d’Art Elégance Sartoriale.

Enamel being applied to the engraved white gold base on the Hermès Arceau Tigre

Enamel being applied to the engraved white gold base on the Hermès Arceau Tigre

Developed by the husband-and-wife team of Olivier and Dominique Vaucher, shaded enamel (email ombrant) also involves the application of translucent enamel over an engraved dial. Instead of a regular pattern à la guilloché, however, shaded enamel entails the creation of an image in relief. In the Hermès Arceau Tigre, the likeness of the animal is first carved into a white gold base, before translucent black enamel is applied and fired. A thicker layer of enamel accumulates in areas where the engraving is deeper and appears darker as a result the shading corresponds to the depth of the enamel, which creates an extremely lifelike product.

Cartier Ballon Bleu de Cartier Enamel Granulation with Panther Motif

Cartier Ballon Bleu de Cartier Enamel Granulation with Panther Motif

The final technique here is Cartier’s enamel granulation, which combines enamelling with Etruscan granulation originally used by goldsmiths. The craft requires multiple steps and is extremely tedious, to say the least. Enamel is first worked into threads of different diameters before these threads are chipped off bit by bit to form beads of various sizes. The beads are then sorted by colour and applied to the dial successively to assemble an image, with intermediate firings to set and fuse the enamel. As different colours of enamel fuse at different temperatures, there is a clearly defined order for the assembly process; up to 30 firings are necessary, and each dial requires nearly a month to complete. Like shaded enamel, enamel granulation is a very recent development, and Cartier has only used it on one watch so far: the Ballon Bleu de Cartier Enamel Granulation with Panther Motif.

Metallic Content

Paillonné is among the rarest enamelling techniques today and practically synonymous with Jaquet Droz, which has maintained its expertise in this area. The manufacture currently has two full-time enamellists who don’t just produce enamel dials but also train artisans to perpetuate this know-how.

A paillon being applied to the coloured enamel “base”

A paillon being applied to the coloured enamel “base”

The “paillon” here refers to the small ornamental motifs that are created from gold leaf, and are the calling card of the technique. Essentially, paillonné enamelling involves setting paillons within enamel to form patterns, with regular geometric ones being the norm. To do so, a layer of coloured enamel is first fired to set it. Upon this layer, the paillons are positioned, before translucent enamel is applied and fired, thus “locking” the paillons in. Additional steps can be taken to create even more intricate designs. Before the coloured enamel layer is applied, for instance, the substrate surface may first be decorated with guilloché, which basically creates flinqué enamel that is then decorated with paillons over it. According to Jaquet Droz’s CEO Christian Lattmann, the textured base doesn’t just offer visual benefits but also helps the initial layer of coloured enamel to “stick” better. Lattmann also revealed that the choice of white or red gold as this base will impart a different tone to the finished product as well both because of its inherent colour and because of how the guillochage plays with light.

A watch from Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection, with applied precious metal powders on the enamelled surface

A watch from Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection, with applied precious metal powders on the enamelled surface

In lieu of regular patterns, Jaeger-LeCoultre opted for a twist on the technique, by distributing flecks of silver randomly on the dial instead. The result can be seen in the Hybris Artistica Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Enamel, whose enamel dial mimics the look of lapis lazuli. This technique was also used for the second dial of the Reverso One Duetto Moon.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Duetto Moon

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Duetto Moon

While not paillonné enamelling per se, Vacheron Constantin’s use of hand applied precious powder deserves a mention here. In the manufacture’s Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières timepieces, gold, platinum, diamond, and pearl powders are affixed to the surface of the enamel dial by Japanese enamel artisan Yoko Imai. Instead of being covered with a layer of enamel, these particles sit atop them, and catch the light variously to mimic a bird’s eye view of a city at night.

Brush Strokes

Enamel painting is simply painting with enamel pigments rather than some other medium. The technique is challenging not just due to the canvas’s size, which makes it miniature painting as well, but also because of the multiple firings needed to vitrify and set the enamels, colour by colour. Given the level of detail that can be achieved, however, this is one of the few techniques that are capable of making their subjects almost lifelike. Consider Slim d’Hermès Pocket Panthère, which has the eponymous animal rendered in this technique, for example. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso à Eclipse also showcases what enamel painting is capable of with its uncanny facsimile of Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait as a Painter on its dial.

Slim d’Hermès Pocket Panthère being painted. Image © Pierre-William Henry

Slim d’Hermès Pocket Panthère being painted. Image © Pierre-William Henry

Grisaille enamel can be considered a subset of enamel painting, and is a specific method of painting white on black to create monochromic imagery. The black canvas is grand feu enamel that must first be applied, fired, and then polished to create a perfectly smooth surface that’s free of imperfections. This preparatory step is, in and of itself, already very challenging, as minute flaws are extremely easy to spot on such a surface this explains why most watch brands offer white enamel dials, but black onyx or lacquer dials instead of enamel. Upon this black canvas, the enamellist paints using Blanc de Limoges, which is a white enamel whose powder is more finely ground than normal. To create micro details, fine brushes, needles, and even cactus thorns are used, and the dial is painted and fired multiple times to create the nuanced paintings grisaille enamel is known for.

Grisaille enamel painting for Van Cleef & Arpels’s Midnight Nuit Boréale

Grisaille enamel painting for Van Cleef & Arpels’s Midnight Nuit Boréale

Owing to its complexity, grisaille enamel is rarely seen. There are brands that still offer metiers d’art watches with them though, sometimes with their own take on the technique. In its Métiers d’Art Hommage à l’Art de la Danse collection, Vacheron Constantin opted to use translucent brown enamel for the dial base to impart a greater sense of depth, while softening the contrast between the two colours. Van Cleef & Arpels used a midnight blue base in its Midnight Nuit Boréale and Nuit Australe timepieces instead, to evoke the night sky.

This article was originally published in WOW.

Luxury watches made of steel: 6 stunning timepieces fetching higher prices from IWC, Ulysse Nardin and more

Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar

Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar

Steel-clad complications are no less precious than their counterparts in gold and platinum; they’ve merely skewed their value towards their movements and designs. In light of this, watchmakers have taken to releasing steel watches at even higher price points than watches made of more precious metals. Here are our six picks of steel timepieces for watch aficionados.

IWC Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Spitfire, S$47,300

IWC Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Spitfire

IWC Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Spitfire

Here are the two most useful complications to have. On one hand, the perpetual calendar minimises its owner’s involvement by accounting for differing lengths of the months automatically to display the correct date  at least until 2100. On the other hand, the chronograph encourages more fiddling, to time any and every event that its wearer encounters. Combine them with an eye on symmetry and a premium on legibility, and a winning package emerges. Hidden beneath the dial are other technical complexities, such as a seven-day power reserve, and a date-change mechanism that sends four discs jumping simultaneously at the end of every year.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duo, S$17,600

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duo

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duo

What better way to display a second time zone than on another face? The Reverso Tribute Duo tells local time via its main face, which has a white grained dial set with blue hands and indexes in an unmistakably Art Deco execution. Swivel the case around, and the flip side presents a dial that’s almost like a film negative of the main one blue is the dominant colour here instead, accentuated by silver hands and dial markings. In lieu of a small seconds display, the sub-dial
on the reverse is a day/night indicator.

Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar, S$17,900

Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar

Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar

The PanoMaticLunar is an exercise in asymmetry. Its dial elements may all be off-centre, but they form a pleasing whole thanks to their exacting positioning vis-à-vis each other. There are, for instance, two vertical (and invisible) lines running down the dial, one connecting the centres of the hour/minute and small second indicators, and the other linking the large date and moon phase displays. In turn, the lines are joined by another perfectly horizontal one that bisects the small second and large date displays. This nuanced arrangement was, according to Glashütte Original, inspired by the Golden Ratio. Closer study will reveal myriad other details on the dial, produced in-house by the manufacture’s facility in Pforzheim.

Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar, S$20,100

Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar

Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar

The Marine Chronograph Annual Calendar sports classic styling via its dial and hands to hark back to Ulysse Nardin’s past as a maker of marine chronometers, which contributed to transoceanic navigation. The movement beating within the timepiece is decidedly modern though, beginning with a silicium escapement and hairspring. Another fresh development here is the annual calendar that required just three additional wheels on top of the simple calendar mechanism, which has itself been pared down from 30-odd to around a dozen components. The result? Greatly improved convenience, as the date needs to be corrected just once a year. A chronograph function bumps up its appeal.

Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Watch with Large Date, Retrograde Second Time Zone, and Day/Night Indicator, S$12,800

Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Watch with Large Date, Retrograde Second Time Zone, and Day/Night Indicator

Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Watch with Large Date, Retrograde Second Time Zone, and Day/Night Indicator

This is a Cartier through and through; there’s no mistaking the classical styling that stems from the combination of minutiae here. Note for instance the Roman numeral indexes, the railway track chapter ring, and the silvered dial with a flinqué guilloché pattern. The remaining elements lend a fancier edge to the timepiece, beginning with a large date display at 12 o’clock. The second time zone complication takes things further with its atypical execution a retrograde indicator for the hour, which is paired with a separate day/night indicator.

Frédérique Constant Manufacture Worldtimer, S$5,400

Frédérique Constant Manufacture Worldtimer

Frédérique Constant Manufacture Worldtimer

A worldtimer complication isn’t exceedingly difficult to produce. Creating a worldtimer timepiece, however, is anything but, thanks to the sheer amount of information that must be presented on the dial harmoniously. Frédérique Constant has pulled it off here, and even managed to put various touches on the dial to increase its visual punch. A high contrast blue and white colour scheme ensures legibility, with dashes of red to anchor the GMT and Daylight Saving Time indications. The dial itself is built in tiers; the central world map is elevated above the cities and hour rings, while the date display is layered over it at six o’clock.

Credits

Photography GreenPlasticSoldiers
Art Direction
Joaelle Ng

This was originally published in WOW. We thank WatchesbySJX for insight given on the overall prices of steel watches in the luxury watch industry.

Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon: A look inside this new luxury chiming watch debuting at SIHH 2017

Chiming watches remain the most charming of all mechanical timepieces, mostly because they are discreet pleasures. After all, with a minute repeater for example, the beauty is in what it sounds like and the wearer is likely the only person who knows for sure. Visually, these rarefied watches that sound out the time often look like time-only pieces, with only the sliding piece on the case giving away the game. Skeletonising offers, to date, the best chance to transform a minute repeater into a feast for the eye as well as the ear. For 2017, the Cartier manufacture at La Chaux-de-Fonds clearly thinks it can do better.

With this striking timepiece, the Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon, the Cartier watchmakers have created a mechanical wristwatch that has never existed in any form, anywhere. This is the first time a mysterious flying double tourbillon has joined forces with a minute repeater (which is skeletonized to boot). In fact, to our knowledge, this is the first time a mysterious indication of time has been seen alongside a skeletonised minute repeater.

Now, Carole Forestier-Kasapi and her team are no strangers to repeaters and Cartier is certainly the only major brand to associate itself with the mysterious watch – a tradition dating back to the clocks of Louis Cartier in 1902. Creating a cohesive watch out of old traditions and new know-how is where Cartier excels and where the brand often adds value to watchmaking as a whole. To put it another way, Cartier may not innovate by tradition but it certainly makes innovation in watchmaking seem like a proud tradition, a beautiful one at that.

calibre 9407 MC

Calibre 9407 MC

“We don’t have a long experience in fine watchmaking. We wanted to do things differently. This fact probably makes our watches appealing to the client. And our watches are beautiful! You know, just because we make technical watches doesn’t mean the watches have to be ugly. We have always had very good designers in the house of Cartier and this is one of our strengths,” said Forestier-Kasapi.

She was speaking at that time, in 2012, about the Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon, powered by calibre 9402 MC. When you see the numbering in the new model, calibre 9407 MC, the provenance is clear, which you might have guessed from those dial-side hammers and gongs. Having said that, looking back at the various forms the Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon have taken at Cartier, there are clear differences here, made obvious by the open-worked movement and the position of the repeater push piece at 4 o’clock.

Triple Threat Pre-SIHH Novelties

We should say at the outset that Cartier never does anything by halfway measures so the Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon is only one of three novelties to be revealed prior to SIHH 2017. The others are the Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Hour and the Panthere Joueuse de Cartier, which are certainly winning propositions in their own right but we’ll have to address those in another issue, possibly when we look at the SIHH novelties in full or in a shoot sometime next year.

Minute Repeater Mechanism

Minute Repeater Mechanism

Turning back to the multi-complication of the pre-SIHH releases, Cartier definitely wants to window to show off this new watch before the onslaught of novelties begins. Truly, the virtues of the watch are obvious even as the mysterious mechanism remains fully, well, mysterious. Casual observers have already noted how well the calibre 9407 MC preserves the secrets of the mysterious flying double tourbillon, which it does. The visual pleasure of watching the tourbillon make a circuit in one minute, and then the entire assembly rotate in five minutes is delectable, as we have already seen with the Rotonde Mysterious Double Tourbillon in 2013.

The repeater portion of this calibre, which occupies the remaining 61% of calibre 9407 MC, is another matter. Doing a multi-complication is great and everything but does it compromise the quality of the delicate chiming mechanism? First of all, the many watchmakers we have spoken to over the years typically agree that adding a tourbillon to a movement with a minute repeater causes no problems overall and does not detract from the quality of the sound. In this particular instance, Cartier notes that the space for the double tourbillon is actually smaller than it was in the Rotonde Mysterious Double Tourbillon 9454 MC. This reduction of 1mm to 15.5mm was done to accommodate the repeater gongs.

Perfecting the Pitch

Ultimately, chiming watches must be judged on aural pleasure and that is entirely subjective. What we can highlight here is that Cartier has boiled down the essence of a successful minute repeater into four dimensions: intensity, tonality, tone and deadening. Those familiar with watches that strike the time will know a few more terms: volume, rhythm, harmony, pitch, duration, paired sounds and ready sounds… Happily, the Cartier manufacture’s approach with the Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon is refreshingly approachable.

On that note (no pun intended), it is important to bear in mind that this is a 45mm watch in grade 5 titanium while the gongs are in the usual steel as per Cartier’s other repeaters. The manufacture’s own notes suggest that titanium was chosen to reduce the case-gongs mass ratio for better acoustic transparency. As you might have guessed, the entire 45mm case acts as a resonance chamber for calibre 9407 MC. Cartier makes no other assertion on the choice of material for the case, in terms of its suitability for sounding the time in a sonorous fashion.

The Mysterious Cage

The Mysterious Cage

The manufacture does take some pains to establish that it has tried its best to improve the transmission of vibrations from movement to case by creating no less than six points that the movement connects with the case. Four of these are via screws linking the movement and the case while two are screws that link the gongs themselves to the case (at 6 o’clock, in the middle of the hammers). If you are familiar with other Cartier repeaters, you might also recognize that the gongs present a square profile to the hammers at the point of contact, to increase the surface area that the hammers can work with. Cartier reports that this improves the vibration velocity.

The low-pitched gong (tourbillon-side) sounds the hours and is calibrated to strike in B (5th octave). The high-pitched minutes gong is set to D (6th octave), by way of contrast. Low-pitch and high-pitch notes are separated by 10 dB, which seems like a good split. Interestingly, the intensity of the notes has been clocked at 66dB, as opposed to the 68dB of the previous Cartier repeaters. You will of course appreciate the quality of the sound is more important here than the actual intensity, given that the difference is a mere 2dB. That quality is assured here – as in all Cartier repeaters – by the use of a flying inertial governor instead of the more traditional recoil anchor. The governor has been moved from its position in 9402 MC, in single axis with the tourbillon and gongs to a spot just below the mysterious double tourbillons.

As for the actual quality of the sound, for the moment we only have the specifications from Cartier to go on but we might update on the actual sound quality online from SIHH 2017 itself. See you there.

Specifications

Movement Manual winding calibre 9407 MC, with mysterious double flying tourbillon and minute repeater; 84 hours power reserve

Case 45mm grade 5 titanium

Strap Black “Gomma” alligator

VACHERON CONSTANTIN Overseas Small Model in pink gold; TORY BURCH Trocadero wrap dress

Tiara Shaw shows us how to accessorise for every occasion

A popular fixture in the local society scene, Tiara Shaw is much more than the charismatic other half of Shaw Organisation executive vice-president Mark Shaw. The mother of one currently splits her time working in real estate as a Savills Residential sales director, jetting around the world, attending film festivals and business trips with her husband, and managing her start-up boutique wellness-travel portal, Om & Away. Sassy and chic, Tiara shows us her flair in clever accessorising for any occasion about town.

Big on Bulgaribulgari-serpenti

BVLGARI Serpenti tubogas pink gold necklace and earrings with pavé-set diamond scales; BOTTEGA VENETA lurex and wool jacket and pants, soft lurex bra, lurex and viscose scarf, Tippie Mary Jane pumps

Statement Maker
The intense and vibrant deep green beauty of the emerald makes it one of my favourite gemstones

The intense and vibrant deep green beauty of the emerald makes it one of my favourite gemstones

CHOPARD Red Carpet collection necklace with a 95.89-carat heart-shaped emerald and 61.4 carats of diamonds, High Jewellery earclips with 8.96 and 7.5 carats of pear-shaped diamonds on each side surrounded by more diamonds, High Jewellery solitaire ring with a 14.36-carat D-colour, Internally Flawless marquise-cut diamond surrounded by more diamonds; MIU MIU velluto coat, cashmere vest

Chromatic Queencartier-galanterie-de-cartier

CARTIER Galanterie de
Cartier white gold earrings, ring with black lacquer and diamonds, Galanterie de Cartier white gold necklace and bracelet with black lacquer, onyx, and diamonds, Love white gold bracelet with ceramic and diamonds; BOTTEGA VENETA silk organdy dress with paillettes and Swarovski embroidery

Respect for Heritagepatek-philippe

PATEK PHILIPPE Ladies’ Annual Calendar Ref. 4948G in white gold with mother-of-pearl dial; DKNY notched collar fitted jacket

Very Versatilevan-cleef-arpels

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS Bouton d’or pink gold necklace with diamonds, white mother-of-pearl, and carnelian, Perlée pink gold and diamonds ear studs, Perlée Couleurs pink gold between-the-finger ring with diamonds and carnelian; TORY BURCH Trocadero wrap dress

Winter Stylejaeger-lecoultre

JAEGER-LECOULTRE Reverso Classic Medium Duetto Ivy Red watch in pink gold with diamonds; CHAUMET Liens white gold necklace with an oval-cut ruby and diamonds, Joséphine Aube Printanière platinum ring with a pear-shaped ruby and diamonds; CH CAROLINA HERRERA wool coat and wool dress

Casual Elegancetiffany-co

TIFFANY & CO. Schlumberger Rope yellow gold and platinum two-row hoop earrings with diamonds, Schlumberger Rope yellow gold three-row X ring, Tiffany T yellow gold hinged wrap-bracelet with diamonds, Tiffany T yellow gold square bracelet; MONTBLANC Bohème Perpetual Calendar jewellery watch; CH CAROLINA HERRERA wool dress.

Credits:

Text by Yanni Tan
Photography Assistance Alfred Phang
Styling Assistance Joey Tan
Studio Assistance Stills Network Team
Hair Sha Shamsi/Indigo Artisans, using L’Oréal Professional
Makeup Cheryl Ow/Indigo Artisans, using Parfums Christian Dior

Tiffany & Co. Masterpieces 2016 Prism pendant necklace in platinum with 
tsavorite garnets and diamonds

13 Birthstones: Benefits of precious gems and where to find them

Add text.

January
Chanel Fine Jewellery Les Éternelles de Chanel Signature Garnet secret watch in white gold with a 39.9-carat cushion-cut red garnet, yellow sapphires, orange sapphires, spessartite garnets, and diamonds.

Chanel Fine Jewellery Les Éternelles de Chanel Signature Garnet secret watch in white gold with a 39.9-carat cushion-cut red garnet, yellow sapphires, orange sapphires, spessartite garnets, and diamonds. It is a unique piece equipped with a quartz movement

Garnet

Signifying eternal friendship and trust, the name garnet is derived from the Latin word “granatum”, which refers to the red seeds of the pomegranate. Apart from the red varieties, which were among the most ancient of healing talismans, garnet also comes in other colour types, the key ones being the orange-yellow spessartite and the bright green tsavorite.

February
Bvlgari Magnificent Inspirations Extravaganza necklace

Bvlgari Magnificent Inspirations Extravaganza necklace in pink gold with 12 sassi-cut amethysts totalling 344.25 carats, South Sea cultured pearls, emeralds, 
amethysts, spinels, and diamonds

Amethyst

Historically coveted by European royalty by virtue of its intoxicating purple and rarity then, the ever-popular amethyst was also used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to keep the wearer sober, sharp, and restraint. In fact, its name derives from the Greek word “amethystos”, which means “not drunken”.

March
Tiffany & Co. Blue Book collection Water Colours three-strand necklace

Tiffany & Co. Blue Book collection Water Colours three-strand necklace in platinum with 
a 52.80-carat cushion-cut aquamarine, tanzanites, green tourmalines, aquamarines, 
and diamonds

Aquamarine

Named for the Latin phrase “water of the sea”, the ethereal aquamarine was believed by the ancients to be the treasure of the mermaids, and by sailors as a talisman for protection and safe passage over water. The gem was also used to dispel gossip, and imbue the owner with a sense of
calm and confidence.

April
Cartier Magicien Illumination bracelet in white gold with one 31.16-carat D-colour, internally flawless emerald-cut diamond

Cartier Magicien Illumination bracelet in white gold with one 31.16-carat D-colour, internally flawless emerald-cut diamond, other diamonds in various cuts, and carved rock crystal.
The main diamond can be worn on a ring or replaced by a pavé diamond motif

Diamond

Adopted from the Greek work “adamas”, meaning “invincible”, diamond is symbolic of eternal love and strength today. The gem was referenced in Sanskrit texts as early as 400BC, and since antiquity, believed by various cultures to possess powers that range from therapy and healing, energy-boosting, to imparting balance and clarity of thought.

May
Van Cleef & Arpels Émeraude en Majesté Grand Opus transformable necklace

Van Cleef & Arpels Émeraude en Majesté Grand Opus transformable necklace in white gold with three old-mine Colombian emeralds (two are shown here) totalling 127.88 carats, diamonds, and white cultured pearls

Emerald

Emerald was a holy gemstone for many early civilisations, including the Egyptians and South Americans, and also revered by ancient royalty spanning the Greeks to Indians. A symbol of renewal and growth, the gem is believed to grant the owner youth, vision, and wisdom. Its name was derived from the Greek word “smaragdus”, for green.

June
Chaumet La Nature de Chaumet Le Chêne Racines Célestes transformable necklace

Chaumet La Nature de Chaumet Le Chêne Racines Célestes transformable necklace in white gold with an oval-cut pink spinel, cultured freshwater pearls, spinels, pink sapphires, and diamonds. This is the short version of the original long necklace that has a total of seven pink and violet spinels weighing 10.94, 8.40, 6.81, 6.80, 6.53, 5.29, and 1.87 carats

Pearl

Probably the first gem discovered by mankind to be used for adornment, pearl boasts a long and interesting legacy of mythical importance in countless civilisations, including the Romans and Tudors. Its natural form, colour, and radiance endowed it with a celestial quality, and it has become symbolic of innocence, purity, and virtue in modern history.

July
Chopard Red Carpet collection High Jewellery Necklace

Chopard Red Carpet collection High Jewellery Necklace with 33 cushion-shaped rubies 
totalling 64.12 carats, diamonds, and rubies of various cuts

Ruby

Symbolising passion, vitality, and wealth, the blood-red ruby was so fascinating and visceral in appeal to historical nobility, from Kublai Khan to the Indian maharajahs, that their obsession with it was the stuff of legends. Named from the Latin word “ruber” for “red”, the legendary gem is one of the oldest associated with royalty, and remains sought-after to this day.

August
Chanel Fine Jewellery Les Blés de Chanel Brins de Printemps earrings

Chanel Fine Jewellery Les Blés de Chanel Brins de Printemps earrings in white gold with 
two marquise-cut peridots totalling 10.4 carats, other peridots, green tourmalines, aquamarines, and diamonds

Peridot

Called chrysolite in early writings, peridot was believed to wield powers against nightmares and the dark forces, and bring the wearer influence and success. Named from the Arabic word “faridat” for “gem”, it is the national gemstone of Egypt as it was first discovered nearly 4,000 years ago on an Egypt-owned island in the Red Sea, where stones were mined for the kings.

September
Cartier Magicien Incantation necklace

Cartier Magicien Incantation necklace in platinum with one 22.84-carat cushion-cut
Sri Lankan blue sapphire and diamonds. The necklace can be worn inverted along 
its radius and the sapphire may be fitted onto a ring

Sapphire

The sky blue colour of sapphire endowed it with a divine quality, and naturally, it became a royal gem for many cultures tracing back to the Middle Ages. Since then, it has been associated with numerous virtues that range from devotion and loyalty, to wisdom, justice, and prophecy. Its name has roots in Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit, meaning “blue stone”.

October
Louis Vuitton Blossom High Jewellery ring in white gold with a 2.9-carat indicolite tourmaline set onto a 5.05-carat petal-shaped opal along with diamonds

Louis Vuitton Blossom High Jewellery ring in white gold with a 2.9-carat indicolite tourmaline set onto a 5.05-carat petal-shaped opal along with diamonds

Opal

Referring to its play-of-colour property, opal’s name was derived from the Greek word “opallos”, which means “to see a change of colour”. Its stunning visual quality led it to become a talisman for strengthening both one’s eyesight and higher consciousness.

October
Boucheron 26 Vendôme Passementerie necklace in pink and white gold with one 2.02-carat oval cabochon pink tourmaline, five rubellites totalling 35.53 carats, spessartite garnets, multi-cut pink tourmalines, multi-colour sapphires, diamonds, and a rock crystal

Boucheron 26 Vendôme Passementerie necklace in pink and white gold with one 2.02-carat oval cabochon pink tourmaline, five rubellites totalling 35.53 carats, spessartite garnets, multi-cut pink tourmalines, multi-colour sapphires, diamonds, and a rock crystal

Tourmaline

Also a birthstone for October, tourmaline is historically associated with matters of the heart, and stands for humanitarian love and positivity. The gem’s name, born of the old Sinhalese word “turmali” for “mixed colours”, reflects its many attractive colour varieties.

November
Chanel Fine Jewellery Sous le Signe du Lion Solaire brooch in white gold with with a 123.5-carat carved yellow citrine, a 7.8-carat cushion-cut orange topaz, 
diamonds, and yellow sapphires

Chanel Fine Jewellery Sous le Signe du Lion Solaire brooch in white gold with
with a 123.5-carat carved yellow citrine, a 7.8-carat cushion-cut orange topaz, 
diamonds, and yellow sapphires

Topaz & Citrine

A gemstone with many colour varieties, topaz was prized in antiquity, with the opulent orangey-pink stone hailed as the imperial topaz by the Russian tsars. It is supposed to possess a warm and gentle solar energy, and helps to soothe, stimulate, and recharge the owner. Because the yellow-orange topaz was historically thought to be the same as citrine, the latter has also come to be known as November’s birthstone too. Regarded as the “healing quartz”, it is believed to have a healthful, encouraging influence.

December
Bulgari Magnificent Inspirations Fiore ingenuo High Jewellery necklace in white gold 
with carved turquoise inserts, one 9.39-carat trillion-cut tanzanite, diamonds, 
moonstones, and blue sapphires

Bulgari Magnificent Inspirations Fiore ingenuo High Jewellery necklace in white gold 
with carved turquoise inserts, one 9.39-carat trillion-cut tanzanite, diamonds, 
moonstones, and blue sapphires

Turquoise

Another gem that pre-dates written history is turquoise, which was revered as an ornamental and ceremonial stone, especially in ancient Persian, Egyptian, and American civilisations. Its name came from the French expression “pierre tourques”, meaning “Turkish stone”, as it was first traded from Persia through Turkey to Europe in the 17th century.

Text by Yanni Tan

This article was first published in WOW.

Cartier Maison des Métiers d’Arts: A look inside the art of watchmaking

Over the last five years, the world of luxury watches has become that much more beautiful, thanks in no small part to the proliferation of traditional métiers d’arts, or artistic crafts, imbued into mechanical watches. While haute horlogerie is, in itself, an artistic craft, métiers d’arts bring the fine arts into watchmaking and they include hand engraving, miniature painting, grand feu enamel, gem setting, and more. Among the watch companies with the most profound interest and know-how of the métiers d’arts, the one that practices the widest repertoire of crafts, including the most arcane and age-old crafts, is undoubtedly Cartier.cartier-art-house

With a long and fabled history with the world of art that continues till today, it is only natural that the luxury maison gains full mastery of the métiers d’arts. What’s more surprising, though, is Cartier’s ability to blend technique with creativity and to marry lost arts with modern watchmaking. Also impressive is the extent to which Cartier is devoted to métiers d’arts. Now that they have become a major preoccupation of the maison, they deserve a dedicated space where the crafts are consolidated and artisans can work uninterrupted. Fittingly, Cartier calls this space Maison des Métiers d’Arts, or house of the artistic crafts.cartier-art-of-watchmaking

Consolidated Craftsmanship

Just a short distance away from Cartier’s magnificent manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds, what used to be a Bernese-style farm dating from the end of the 18th century is now the Cartier Maison des Métiers d’Arts. Considering how watchmaking used to be a part-time job for farmers in the winter when there are no crops to tend, this beautiful historical mansion is a perfectly chosen site. Cartier preserved as much of it as possible even as the interior has been refurbished with a modern framework – perhaps a metaphor for its gift for bridging the past and the present. All this becomes apparent as soon as you step into the mansion. Abundant light streaming in from the roof and open-worked gables lead one to think of the classical architecture of watch manufactures while wooden panelling and 18th century limestone flagstones, lime plaster, and period furnishing keep the spirit of the original building intact. Three rooms occupy the ground floor: Grand Salon, Petit Salon, and Salle de Présentation.cartier-traditional-machinery

Precious Metalworking

King of jewellers and jeweller of kings, Cartier prides itself on jewellery making know-how and the mansion’s first floor is given to all things gilded and glittery. Traditional gem setting and jewellery making are both accomplished here by Cartier’s master craftsmen and women, and motifs that are perennial favourites of the maison like the panther and the caiman, in addition to all manner of flora and fauna, sparkle with life. A painstaking process, the pieces are first rendered in an open-worked design drilled with cavities, which will eventually be studded with precious stones. It is the master gem-setter’s eye that decides which stone goes with which and then he carefully crafts the appropriate setting – prong, claw, collet, or bezel. The piece is polished several times throughout the crafting process, and is a consummate skill requiring years of experience to master.cartier-historical-pieces

In recent years, Cartier has expanded its repertoire of skills to include gold granulation and filigree work. To much critical acclaim, Cartier launched the Rotonde de Cartier Panther with Granulation in 2013, a watch that introduced a completely new craft to modern watchmaking. Having discovered the ancient Etruscan art of gold granulation, Cartier promptly researched deeply to study its technique. Likened to sowing seeds of gold, granulation involves creating gold beads using long gold wires that have been cut up, rolled in charcoal dust, and heated with a flame. The beads are then assembled one by one to create a motif, and then fused with a gold surface. Cartier’s panther with granulation is made up of nearly 3,800 gold beats and took approximately 360 hours to complete the underlying engraving and bead fusing.

Filigree work is just as intricate as gold granulation. Attributed to the ancient Sumerians, this craft dates back to 3000 BC and is done by twisting gold or platinum wires and then hammering to flatten the strips, which are shaped to form a motif and then soldered onto a surface. The latest craft to join Cartier’s repertoire, it will be featured in the Ronde Louis Cartier in 2015 which combines filigree work with the application of lacquer and gem setting. Taking the form of two panthers locked in an embrace, the filigree work in yellow gold and platinum takes no fewer than 10 days to complete.cartier-histoircal-pieces-3

Colour & Fire

One of the best loved forms of métiers d’arts, enamelling can be done with a wide range of techniques. Found on the second floor, the most superior and traditional technique is said to be grand feu enamelling, which requires the enameller to create a mixture of raw enamel and metallic oxides to be fired at a temperature of over 800 degrees Celsius. In order to create an elaborate painting with shades and colour nuances, the enameller has to use a palette of coloured raw enamel and each shade of each colour has to be fired individually. The result is a painting brought to life by layers of colours.

There are different techniques to apply enamel to a dial, all of which are considered traditional. Champlevé enamel involves carving out cavities where the raw enamel is to be applied, leaving only strips of metal in between the cavities. Cloisonné enamel is quite the opposite, as it involves applying strips of metal on the dial to demarcate where the raw enamel is to be applied. These strips are called cloisons (meaning partition) in French. Much rarer than champlevé or cloisonné is the plique-à-jour enamel, which resembles stained glass windows in churches. Plique-à-jour is similar to cloisonné except it does not have a base.cartier-historical-pieces-2

Grisaille enamel is also very rare. In fact it was almost a lost art. To perform grisaille enamelling, the enameller begins with a dial of black enamel and uses only translucent white enamel called limoge blanc to paint the desired images. Multiple layers of the limoge blanc is needed to achieve a clear white stroke, and each layer has to be fired individually, making grisaille enamelling one of the most laborious techniques of all. Yet, Cartier has managed to find a silver lining, make that a gold lining, with grisaille enamelling. Working with a gold paste instead of limoge blanc, the maison utilises the same technique with a precious material, adding just that bit of prestige to the age-old craft.

In addition to enamelling, this part of the Maison des Métiers d’Arts is also where one of Cartier’s most talked-about watches, the Ballon Bleu de Cartier Floral Marquetry, is made. Marquetry as an art traditionally involves combining pieces of sculpted wood to form a larger canvas. Instead of wood, however, Cartier made stunning works of marquetry using rose petals and straw. Again, these painstaking processes call for enormous concentration on the part of the craftsman as well as inordinate numbers of man-hours to complete. The Ballon Bleu de Cartier Floral Marquetry took two weeks just for the marquetry work alone while a straw marquetry creation like the Rotonde de Cartier Straw Marquetry with lion motif, where individual blades of straw were hand chosen, split blade by blade, flattened with a burnishing bone, and assembled by hand, took 45 hours to make.cartier-historical-pieces-4

Similar to marquetry, stone mosaic is another craft practiced by Cartier and is done on the Rotonde de Cartier Stone Mosaic with tiger motif. In this watch, the maison combines small miniature square stones for the background with irregular-shaped stones known as tesserae that are used for the motif. Observe how the natural nuances of stone has been used to create shadowed hues. Nearly 500 tiny tesserae and up to 70 hours of work were required to literally put this dial together.

Glorious Past

Ascend to the eaves of the Maison des Métiers d’Arts and you would enter into a sacred space devoted to Cartier’s creative universe. Not just reserved for exhibitions and private events, this area is open to the artisans of the maison should they seek a place to exchange ideas and share knowledge. Indeed, the exchange of ideas and sharing of knowledge is the primary objective of Maison des Métiers d’Arts. It is also why all the floors and rooms are designed with an open concept and are easily accessible from one to another. Like the masterpieces of yesteryears, Cartier’s modern creations break boundaries and rethink conventions but they are always beautifully interpreted. Now with Maison des Métiers d’Arts, Cartier looks set to bring haute horlogerie even closer to the fine arts.

This article was first published in WOW.

Cartier Hypnose

Cartier Hypnose Watch: Into A Trance

Shaped watches are something of a specialty at Cartier, with such memorable pieces as the Tank, Ballon Bleu, Baignoire, Tortue, Santos, and of course the one with the most unique shape of all, Crash. The new Hypnose comes in a familiar shape – oval, like the Baignoire – but with a surprise. More accurately, the case of the Hypnose is a double oval, one inside of another, and they do not touch.

Lined with sparkling diamonds, they are like two rings of fire surrounding the watch’s dial. Intensifying the optical illusion, the largest diamonds have been set at the top and bottom of the outer bezel, gradually decreasing in size as they reach the flanks, and then increasing again gradually till they reach the opposite point.Cartier Hypnose

But of course, the two bezels are not truly disconnected. Precious pink or white gold or rich, black lacquer fills the void where the diamonds do not touch. At just a glance, the dial appears airborne, until the eye parses the immense detail and craftsmanship – just another example of Cartier’s creativity at play.

Two alluring dial variations set out to charm you. One is the familiar Cartier dial with Roman numerals, flinqué decoration, and blued steel sword-shaped hands. The other is simply awash with more diamonds, paired with sword shaped hands in the same colour as the case. Cartier also offers the Hypnose in two sizes, small (30mm X 26.2mm) and large (37.8mm X 33.3mm), with one fully set variation paired with a gem-set bracelet. All of them come with quartz movements.

This article was first published in World of Watches: Jewellery.

Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Astromysterieux

Review: Rotonde de Cartier Astromystérieux Watch

Isn’t there a saying about doing something for a very long time, that you become really good at it? Well, Cartier has been producing mystery clocks for more than a century, and true enough, its latest creation proved to be its most impressive one yet, not least in terms of mechanics.

The history of Cartier’s mystery clocks go back to the early 20th century when Louis Cartier met an exceptional clockmaker named Maurice Couet who specialized in mysterious clocks. Couet had been inspired by the works of French clockmaker-turned-illusionist, Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin. With Cartier, he successfully began production of these clocks with hands not directly linked to the movement, but attached to two crystal discs (one for the hours hand and another for the minutes) fitted with serrated metal edges. The first mystery clock made was named Model A and it left Couet’s workshop in 1912.

In 2014, Cartier revisited the mystery clock concept. The R&D team, headed by Carole Forestier, found a way to miniaturise the movement to make it suitable for a wristwatch. Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Hours was the opening salvo that paved the way for other modern-era mysterious timepieces, including the Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Double Tourbillon. The latter was especially memorable because the mystery wasn’t in the way it told the time, but rather, how its flying tourbillon rotated with no apparent connection to the movement. Completing one full rotation in 60 seconds, the tourbillon provides a powerful burst of visual dynamics never before seen in other mystery timepieces.Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Astromysterieux

Following in the footsteps of the Mysterious Double Tourbillon, the Astromystérieux also used the rotating toothed sapphire discs concept for purposes other than to tell the time, namely, theatrics. And who would complain about that? As a matter of fact, knowing Forestier and her penchant for orbital complications, the realisation of a watch like the Astromystérieux was just a matter of time.

The mystery clock typically shows only the hours and minutes, keeping everything else away from sight. Indeed, that’s the whole point of a mystery clock – to display the time without any apparent connection with the movement. Astromystérieux, however, puts the entire movement on display, in addition to the hands. So then where’s the mystery? Take a closer look and you will begin to wonder how the movement, which is apparently suspended in midair, gets any power. How does one wind up the mainspring in this watch, when there are no mechanics connecting the barrel and the crown?

This astonishing movement, Calibre 9462 MC, utilises a completely novel concept where the escapement, balance wheel, gear train, and barrel are all held together by a set of plates and bridges. This collective unit effectively functions as the minute indicator because it completes one full turn every hour; the minutes hand is affixed to the movement thusly. Because of this rotation about a central axis, the entire construct is practically a flying tourbillon, although not in the most conventional sense.

A system of four sapphire discs holds the secret to the Astromystérieux. In lieu of a traditional carriage, the entire movement revolves, not just the balance and escapement, as its lower bridge is one of the four sapphire discs. Two upper bridges (one for the balance wheel and another for the escapement, gear train, and barrel) complete the construct that forms the tourbillon carriage. The hours are indicated by way of a second sapphire disc, which is linked to the tourbillon lower disc.Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Astromysterieux

Solving the mystery of how the Astromystérieux gets its power is a disc-based winding system that brings the third sapphire disc into play. This patented system connects the barrel with the crown using a floating pinion between the winding shaft and winding disc, allowing the movement to be wound only when the crown is in the correct position. A disconnectable system has also been developed so that the crown’s winding shaft and the barrel cannot be broken in the event of excessive winding.

Finally, the fourth sapphire disc is used to set the time. Situated at the base of the movement, it provides the motion required to turn the tourbillon carriage, but when the crown is pulled, it engages the time-setting system. All this is made possible because of a revolutionary lever that blocks the sapphire disc during the normal running of the watch. When the crown is pulled, it frees the lower sapphire disc, thus also freeing the tourbillon carriage (linked to the minutes wheel) and allowing time to be adjusted.

Although the negative space around the movement communicates a feeling of simplicity and emptiness, the Astromystérieux is anything but. This juxtaposition between the complex and the pure is perhaps the single most alluring thing about this awe-inspiring watch.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 43.5mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes
  • Power Reserve: 50 hours
  • Movement: Manual-winding Calibre 9462 MC with mysterious central tourbillon
  • Material: Palladium
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters
  • Strap: Black alligator leather with double adjustable folding clasp

This story was first published in World of Watches.

5 Must-Read Design Books 2016

The London Design Festival is bringing the art of design to the heart of the British capital, from now until September 25. Here is a look at some useful reading material to bring you up to speed with the world of design this fall.

Hadid by Philip Jodido, published by Taschen

After her sudden and unexpected death this year, this book celebrates one of the leading figures of world architecture. Known for her large, bold structures with audacious curves, Zaha Hadid was the first female recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. This Taschen monograph looks back over the renowned architect’s extraordinary career.

Arita / Table of Contents: Studies in Japanese Porcelain by Anniina Koivu, published by Phaidon

The art of Japanese porcelain manufacturing began in Arita, some 400 years ago. This book, published by Phaidon, celebrates traditional Japanese ceramic culture through the ages.

Volez Voguez Voyagez (Louis Vuitton) published by Assouline

Based on the recent Louis Vuitton exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris, this book from Assouline is ideal for anyone who couldn’t catch the show. It is also a great way to discover the world of the famous French luggage maker, intent on making traveling effortless and fashionable.

Empire Style: The Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris by Jörg Ebeling and Ulrich Leben, published by Flammarion

In 1803, Joséphine Bonaparte – wife of the future Emperor of France – acquired the Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris, which she renovated for her son, Eugène de Beauharnais. Becoming an embassy during the 19th century, the Hôtel is a visible incarnation of Consulate and Empire décor styles. This first monograph dedicated to the building is due for release in November.

Cartier Dazzling: High Jewelry and Precious Objects by François Chaille, published by Flammarion

Although mere mortals can only dream of donning Cartier’s legendary jewelry creations, this book showcases a selection of the luxury label’s dazzling delights. The tome is written by the same French fashion writer behind The Book of Ties.

L'Envol de Cartier Men's Fragrance

L’Envol de Cartier: Taking Flight

This must be what the Gods of Olympus smell like — at least according to Mathilde Laurent and French luxury powerhouse Cartier. The in-house perfumer for Cartier has come up with the brand’s first men’s cologne, L’Envol de Cartier, in eight years and it is set to take everyone to greater heights. To create the scent is to bring to life an idea so that everyone can share it, according to Laurent. She shares that the fragrance was inspired by the exploration of self, where one has to overcome fears and have courage.L'Envol de Cartier Men's Fragrance

The main ingredient for the fragrance stems from ambrosia, a food that was consumed by the Greek gods conferring them with immortality and longevity. Of course, ambrosia doesn’t exist so Laurent had her work cut out for her. With accents of honey, wood, patchouli and musk, the eau de parfum is said to be strong yet not overpowering. In a nutshell, the fragrance is perfect for those who like to smell good without making a statement, as if that is their natural scent.L'Envol de Cartier Men's Fragrance

Cartier could have gone all out to seal the honey-colored scent in a complicated and artistic bottle. Instead, the firm chose one that was unique yet not over-the-top, much like the fragrance. Stored in a glass capsule, the fragrance is covered by a detachable dome that helps to capture and reflect light as it shines through the bottle. The idea behind the bottle, comes from having to protect something precious The refillable bottle also features the brand’s signature guilloche motif on the metal filligreed top. The result of the thought and care that goes into creating l’Envol de Cartier is a fragrance that is fuss-free and invigorating for anyone who wears it.

Cartier Magicien: Spellbinding High Jewelry

Let’s face it, us muggles are fascinated by the world of magic and Cartier knows this all too well, which could explain why they created a collection called Cartier Magicien. Made up of three different sections, the high jewelry collection showcases the expertise of Cartier’s master craftsmen. Made up of 20 pieces, the collections called Magic of Design, Magic of Light and Magic of Nature feature one-of-a-kind creations that are sure to captivate and entice.

Cartier Magicien Incantation Necklace

Cartier Magicien collection Incantation Necklace

We explore the collection by looking at key pieces in each series, starting with the Magic of Design. Highlighting the power of design, Cartier introduces the Incantation. Set in platinum, the necklace boasts repeated geometric designs paved with diamonds in various cuts. With nearly 18 carats of diamonds, the necklace is a versatile creation that can be worn in two ways. The first is as a choker-style necklace, while the second can be created with a single touch. Inverting the curves, the interlaced designs of the necklace fan out. If the diamonds weren’t enough, the necklace also comes with a 22.84-carat cushion-shaped Ceylon sapphire that can be worn as a ring when not attached to the necklace.

Cartier Magicien collection Oracle necklace

Cartier Magicien collection Oracle necklace

If you thought that we would only be able to choose one piece to talk about, then you would be mistaken. The Magic of Design series provides us with another necklace, this one dubbed the Oracle. Boasting diamonds and Colombian emeralds, the necklace is a platinum creation that is reminiscent of Cartier’s necklaces and tiaras from the late 1930s. Again, the design is the focal point, with the steps of diamonds that surround the multiple emeralds at the heart of the necklace. With nearly 17 carats of Colombian emeralds, 40 carats of diamonds and 4 carats of onyx, this is a necklace for those who love the age of Art Deco.

Cartier Magicien Paillettes Solaires necklace

Cartier Magicien Paillettes Solaires necklace

The Magic of Light, is under the spotlight next with a diamond studded necklace called Paillettes Solaires. With a mix of platinum, white gold, yellow gold and diamonds of various cuts, this necklace is a statement piece that can be worn on its own. The mix of white and yellow diamonds along with cut diamonds and diamond beads ensure that the necklace shines from any and every angle (who needs Lumos, the wand lighting charm, when you have this?). The centre of attraction, happens to be the large sphere that is studded nearly 36 carats of rose-cut diamonds.

Cartier Magicien collection Questzal necklace

Cartier Magicien collection Questzal necklace

The final series to complete the magic of Cartier’s new High Jewelry collection, is the Magic of Nature. Cartier is no stranger from using animals, creatures and flora as inspiration in its designs so it comes as no surprise that the feathered serpent of Aztec legend and the Mandragore flower are under the spotlight here. The white and gold Mandragore flower comes to life with diamonds and tsavorites while the creature of Aztec folklore is imagined with the help of black lacquer and diamonds. In place of the mythical serpents head, is an exquisite rubellite cabochon that weighs in at an impressive 68.82 carats. To call the collection “captivating” is certainly an understatement.

To find out more about the magic that is the Cartier Magicien collection, visit Cartier.

Cartier-Women's Initiative Awards-2016_Ciara Clancy - Europe

Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards 2017: Register Now

If you’re confident your business plan could be the next big thing, the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards could be just the stepping stone you need to make your idea a reality. Held for the 10th year, the international business plan competition is looking for committed female entrepreneurs who have the tenacity and potential to grow in the industry.

And if you’re not yet convinced, watchmaker and jeweler Cartier has increased the Awards grant from $20,000 to $100,000 (a five-fold increase for those counting), besides a place in the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship 6-Day Executive Programme (ISEP), business mentoring, media visibility and networking opportunities.

Held in partnership with the INSEAD business school, Women’s Forum and global management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company, the 2017 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards is slated to be held at Singapore’s INSEAD campus. Here’s how the competition works: the first phase of the contest will see 18 finalists with the best project ideas worldwide receive coaching and media exposure in lieu of a presentation in front of an international jury at Finale Week, where six Laureates will be chosen.

Selection is based on three criteria – innovation, financial viability and demonstrable social or environmental impact – and women from any country, nationality and industry are welcomed to participate. As Richard Branson once pointed out, “No idea is too small, and all sorts of ideas have potential to change the world as we know it for the better,” so register your business plan now.

Applications for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards closes on August 31, 2016 10 a.m. Paris time (CET).

Cactus de Cartier: Sharp Looking

Long before Wallis Simpson donned its Art Deco inspired creations, French jeweler and watchmaker Cartier had been known for incorporating flora and fauna in its designs. Since 1925, the world has come to partake in the brand’s love affair with nature and this year we see it take on a new form with the Cactus de Cartier.Cactus-de-Cartier-cactus

Gone are the dainty flowers that the brand re-interpreted with precious stones. Instead Cartier found its inspiration from the sturdy desert flower. Simple and fascinating, the flowers come to life at night when they bloom. Rebelling against the delicate designs that are associated with femininity, the Cactus de Cartier lets the sturdy flower shine atop the prickly leaves. With three varying styles, we take a look at the collection below.

A Flower Without Spikes

Left: Cactus de Cartier bracelet, yellow gold, chrysoprases, emeralds, carnelians, set with brilliant-cut diamonds. Right: Cactus de Cartier bracelet, yellow gold, emeralds, carnelians, set with brilliant-cut diamonds.

Left: Cactus de Cartier bracelet, yellow gold, chrysoprases, emeralds, carnelians, set with brilliant-cut diamonds.
Right: Cactus de Cartier bracelet, yellow gold, emeralds, carnelians, set with brilliant-cut diamonds.

Using emeralds, the collection sees the mesmerizing stone in one design with two variations. Set in 18k yellow gold, the first is an array of green with chrysoprase imitating the prickly leaves of the cactus while emeralds are used to re-create the pins of the leaves. The flowers stand out thanks to the carnelians sitting proudly in the center of the design, complete with brilliant-cut diamonds. For the second variation, Cartier replaces the chrysoprase with 18k yellow gold and brilliant-cut diamonds take the place of the carnelians.

Desert Beauty

Cactus de Cartier in yellow gold, lapis lazuli, set with brilliant-cut diamonds

Cactus de Cartier in yellow gold, lapis lazuli, set with brilliant-cut diamonds

Here, the jeweler uses lapis lazuli and diamonds for what you would think is a simple design. But seeing as how there is beauty in simplicity, the gems make a captivating duo against the 18k yellow gold. Unlike the chrysoprase in the first design, Cartier uses 18k gold and diamonds to highlight the shaper edges. The lapis lazuli, in its beautiful blue hue the gem is used to color the flower petals.

Rebellious Flower

Cactus de Cartier in yellow gold, set with brilliant-cut diamonds

Cactus de Cartier in yellow gold, set with brilliant-cut diamonds

The simplest design of the collection also happens to be one of our favorites. Cartier uses the trusted 18k gold to form pearls that mimic the twists that can be found on the sturdy plant. The twisting contours are tiered while diamonds are used to recreate the flowers. Cartier’s take on the flower with Cactus de Cartier is unusual yet refreshing.

Top Jewelers Exit Paris Biennale des Antiquaires

Winds of change are blowing in the world of art, antiques and jewelry. Heralded as one of the world’s most important such fairs, the Paris Biennale des Antiquaires will see its last run as a biannual event and, we presume, its last as the Paris Biennale des Antiquaires. Come 2017, the art event will be reinvented as an annual event (although admittedly, Paris Annuale des Antiquaires doesn’t have as nice a ring to it).

Even so, this year’s event will see a 30 percent increase in size, with a minimum of 113 galleries from 12 countries, making it the year’s largest such event. The mantra is go big or go home, and that is exactly what some of the world’s top jewelers did, according to the reports we are seeing, following on the heels of Cartier’s announcement that it would stay away earlier this year .

Event organizers Syndicat National des Antiquaires’ renewed focus on antiques sat badly with many high jewelers, leading to the exodus,. Seriously, it is a veritable Jexit. Among these are familiar names such as Chaumet, Piaget, Van Cleef & Arpels (whose image from the ongoing Art and Science of Gems exhibition at MBS Singapore is showcased top), Boucheron and Bulgari, dramatically thinning out the ranks of high jewelry exhibitors. In fact, just four remain. It says a lot that this year’s largest accessory brand is first-time exhibitor Cindy Chao. The fair also marks her inaugural public exhibition.

Nevertheless, this year also marks the first historical non-selling timepiece exhibit by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), so at least there’s a twist here. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because the FHH are the organizers of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie and actually represent the entire Richemont Group; Richemont is the parent company of Cartier, Piaget and Van Cleef & Arpels, among others.

The Paris Biennale des Antiquaires will open September 10 at the Grand Palais, and will be held for nine days. For more information, visit the website here.