Tag Archives: cartier

Ocean’s 8 Movie Starring Cartier’s Historic Necklace is Hitting The Screens This Weekend

Cartier took on a new motion venture in the film Ocean’s 8 as the exclusive jewellery partner. This collaboration comes together naturally as the all-female lead movie complements Cartier’s ethos of empowering women with the boldness to be themselves. It is now opening in the theatres this June, featuring the recreation of a historic high jewellery Cartier necklace as the centre of the plot.

Ocean’s 8 is a feminist reboot of the 2001 Warner Bros. film Ocean’s Eleven. Instead of Clooney, Pitt and friends, we get an all-female lead cast starring Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, American Horror Story’s Sarah Paulson, rapper Nora Num aka Awkwafina, Mindy Kaling and even Rihanna. The movie’s premise surrounds Debbie Ocean, estranged sister to the trilogy’s Danny Ocean; rather than hitting Vegas in some macho caper, she attempts to pull off a jewel heist at the Met Gala. The crown jewel of the film is none other than one of Cartier’s most iconic jewellery pieces – a diamond necklace á la the whimsical Jeanne Toussaint, artistic director of Cartier in the 1930s. Originally designed in 1931 by Jacques Cartier for the Maharaja of Nawanagar, the OG Toussaint necklace features the Queen of Holland, a blue-white diamond weighing 136.25 carats and was known as “the finest cascade of coloured diamonds in the world.”

For this cinematographic project, the featured necklace – to be worn by Anne Hathaway – is a high jewellery replica created with the blueprint from the original sketch, composed of colourless diamonds. While it is chosen to be the centre of the plot, the Toussaint Necklace will not be the only Cartier creation featured in the movie. From jewellery to watches, the Maison’s Cartier collection and high jewellery collection will all make appearance during the pivotal Met Gala scene – much like they did on the actual gala this year.

Releasing in the Singapore movie theatres on 07 June 2018. 

Cartier Partners with DFS to Unveil the New Santos Collection

Image from Duty Free Magazine

Iconic French brand Cartier collaborates with luxury duty-free retailer DFS to promote the release of the new Cartier X DFS Santos de Cartier watch Collection. The exhibition will be showcasing the new collection until the end of May at T Galleria by DFS outlets in locations including Hong Kong, Macau, Okinawa, Bali, Angkor, Singapore, Guam, San Francisco, Cairns, Sydney, Hawaii and Saipan. The exhibition features two rooms with an open concept, one of which will showcase the Santos de Cartier collection and the other is a futuristic digital exhibition of data hub lit by LED decorations – which Cartier describes as “harnesses special lighting effects, dynamic aesthetics and contrasting textures, with an emphasis on lacquered black and brushed metal,”

Cartier Partners with DFS to Unveil the New Santos Collection

“An embodiment of determination, freedom and comfort,” – Louis Cartier

Santos de Cartier pays tribute to aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, a personal friend of Cartier founder, Louis Cartier. Dating back to 1900, Louis Cartier invented the first ever purpose-designed wristwatch when his aviator friend encountered difficulty checking the time on his pocket-watch mid-flight. Aided by the newly minted wristwatch, Santos-Dumont was eventually able to set a personal flight record of 220 meters in 21 seconds in year 1904 with the help of Cartier’s new invention. Since then, it has evolved “into an embodiment of determination, freedom and comfort,” said Cartier.

Straps for the Santos de Cartier are available in steel, gold, calfskin or alligator skin

With such a rich story deeply rooted in the history of these timepieces, we can hardly expect anything less from the extraordinary collection. Each Santos de Cartier is meticulously assembled and calibrated by Cartier’s workshop to meet the needs required for every temperature and pressure, exposure to impact and acceleration.

Straps for the Santos de Cartier watch are available in steel, 18-carat gold, calfskin or alligator skin, and the watch’s QuickSwitch system enable all versions to be easily interchangeable with simply a click of a button.

Cartier X DFS Santos de Cartier Video Campaign

 

Two Women Watch Designers are Changing the Face of Time: Marie-Laure Cerede and Chadi Nouri Gruber

Cartier SIHH 2018 novelty: Cartier Revelation d'une Panthere, a ladies timepiece bearing 900 gold beads which descend to form the motif of the Cartier Panthere

Cartier SIHH 2018 novelty: Cartier Revelation d’une Panthere, a ladies timepiece bearing 900 gold beads which descend to form the motif of the Cartier Panthere

For as long as history has documented, watches in general have always tended to be round save for a few early women’s models which were designed into jewellery and brooches. Then, there came a revolution, the world’s first square watch – not that it mattered because documenting such a horological milestone wasn’t really on the foremost on the minds of the manufacturers. Sans social media, there was no necessity to distinguish or crow about the achievement of a unique case shape, round or square the watch was a watch. Fast forward today, save for a few iconic models, how many of us can actually name the designer of our watch? If you owned a Audemars Piguet Royal Oak or a Patek Philippe Nautilus, it is highly probable you could name Gerald Genta but who else? What about horology’s other icons? The Reverso or the Cartier Santos? When did we start ignoring the designer?

Over the last two decades, watchmakers became veritable rockstars. After all, they made the cool movements, visualised the finishing, advised on the decorations and essentially made decisions as to what quickens the heart of a watch savant. But, in this pursuit of high horology, we often forget that design is often the first catalyst for our horological lusts. You disagree? We would like to prove a point.

Audemars Piguet SIHH 2018 novelty, the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon, a jewelset creation of exquisite depth and femininity.

Audemars Piguet SIHH 2018 novelty, the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon, a jewelset creation of exquisite depth and femininity.

Meet Two Women Watch Designers are Changing the Face of Time: Marie-Laure Cerede and Chadi Nouri Gruber

If you recall, not too long ago, there was a shaped watch which caused quite a stir in an industry that was primarily round watches. In 1972, Audemars Piguet unveiled the Royal Oak to the derision of all present and the criticism that the design would doom the company to bankruptcy. Far from it, the Royal Oak’s avant garde design not only saved the company but pioneered a whole genre of unique case shapes for the industry.

That said, some occasions don’t call for “break the rules” cutting edge design, instead, deep introspection of the brand’s design codes often unveils new interpretations of classic motifs while the blending of modern material and fluidic science allows for a new timepiece yet rooted in the brand’s most classical of animal motifs. Witness, Cartier’s Panthere.

Cartier Watchmaking Studio Creation Director, Marie-Laure Cerede

Cartier Watchmaking Studio Creation Director, Marie-Laure Cerede

 

Cartier Watchmaking Studio Creation Director, Marie-Laure Cerede

900 gold beads forms the motif of the Cartier Panthere, an outstanding artistic and technical challenge for Manufacture Cartier. In expressing the vision and design philosophy of the maison, you will find that our techniques are design led instead of being led by technical aspects. We spent a lot of time finding the right fluid that would allow the beads would fall at exactly the right speed, sliding gradually, instead of flowing all down at once.

The Santos is arguably the most well known of all Cartier watches. Since it is the anniversary this year, are you concerned that the limelight will only deepen public awareness of the icon and take attention away from the other models the maison has been developing?

That’s certainly true but I believe that on the feminine side, the Panthere does a very good job of holding its own as an equal icon. 900 gold beads forms the motif of the Cartier Panthere, an outstanding artistic and technical challenge for Manufacture Cartier. In expressing the vision and design philosophy of the maison, you will find that our techniques are design led instead of being led by technical aspects. We spent a lot of time finding the right fluid that would allow the beads would fall at exactly the right speed, sliding gradually, instead of flowing all down at once. We decided not to change anything much for Panthere because it was already a signature. In the Santos, we express Cartier’s masculinity. Fact is, the brand doesn’t have that many watches which expresses this masculinity.

It’s common perception that most consumers prefer a round watch to shaped forms, do you see a unique opportunity for the brand to do more in this genre?

I think it’s a unique opportunity and more importantly, it serves as a creative statement for the maison. Though we have a very beautiful round watch with the Ballon encoded in the DNA of Cartier, the first signature of the brand is clearly the extravagant shaped form.

What do you think it’s the secret of Cartier to entice people who previously preferred round watches to get their first form watch?

We truly playing on a unique Cartier signature. It’s not just a shape, it’s about working on the watch as a whole and creating something harmonious. Round watches are compact and easily harmonious but where Cartier succeeded is that we took this concept and applied it different shapes and even for something like the crash. The work of the maison is truly critical for us – for us, watch design is not merely a puzzle of putting together spare parts but in ensuring that all the lines, curves and angles flow in a way which creates visual harmony.

The new Santos de Cartier launched at SIHH 2018

The new Santos de Cartier launched at SIHH 2018

Cartier’s history has been rich in design and aesthetics but very little attention has been paid historically to movement design, has it been a challenge to overcome this? Do you aim to attract more women with the mechanical aspects of watchmaking?

It’s a challenge to give a sense of significance of our calibres to the end consumers. My view of female watch lovers is that they’re different and they seek different attributes than men. That said, they still recognise value and the calibre is a very big component of perceived value but at the end of the day, its design which resonates. It’s the attraction that sells before you want to discover what’s inside.

Both yourself and your predecessor (Carole Forrestier) are women in a historically male dominated profession, are women catching up in terms of this genre?

I’m a woman but I’m a minority in that I like my complications. I’ve always been very interested in high complications but I still feel that women are not very interested in this aspect. They can design very masculine watches like the Santos or very feminine watches like the Panthere but at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean anything. The product should be able to express its beauty naturally and if you have to explain, it really just means that your product isn’t that great. The immediate desirability of the brand must have impact.

Audemars Piguet Head of Product Development Chadi Nouri Gruber

Audemars Piguet Head of Product Development Chadi Nouri Gruber

Audemars Piguet Head of Product Development Chadi Nouri Gruber

“When most brands make ceramic versions of their watches, they tend to be decorated much simpler than their steel versions because ceramic is much harder to machine and finish. Audemars Piguet does the opposite, we apply exactly the same design codes and contrast finishing to ceramic as we do our steel models.”

Last year you released the black ceramic royal oak perpetual calendar and this year you released the RD#2 concept, any worries that you might encourage some buyers to adopt a “wait and see” approach for the day it becomes a production model?

No. They’re two different pieces. One is a world record holder and the other is undeniably attractive in black ceramic. For example, when most brands make ceramic versions of their watches, they tend to be decorated much simpler than their steel versions because ceramic is much harder to machine and finish. Audemars Piguet does the opposite, we apply exactly the same design codes and contrast finishing to ceramic as we do our steel models. The RD#2 is just a concept for now and while we do like to make dreams come through, we don’t know when in the pipeline that will be. We don’t even know what material it will eventually be in. We do know that we will want both calibres to live side by side.

I understand it was difficult to reduce the three levels to one, I am also assume it is remaining a concept watch for now because there are still things to be worked out, so what are the challenges you face currently?

Well, we are not really facing any more challenges, which is why we were confident to unveil the RD#2 piece. It’s basically taking a three storey house, compressing it into a single level while keeping all the furniture. We’ve merged functions inside the movement in order to reduce the thickness. We basically fused two functions into a single component – The end of the month cam is integrated with the date wheel and the month cam is integrated with the month wheel. So this allowed us to create everything on one plane.

Your classic Offshore Chronographs had smaller hour indexes so it didn’t distract as much visually, it felt it had better balance than the newer versions. I guess what I really want to ask is will the re-issue be a one-off or will you have a series of design tweaks to bring it back to more classic roots?

It’s not a one-off. The reason we did the re-edition was to show that the Offshore design was always timeless and peerless. We are distributing 250 pieces throughout 2018 and it will probably stay in our collection for the years to come. It’s like the re-edition of the 5402, the first Royal Oak and for the 40th anniversary, we released the 15202 as part of our regular collection. It’s something we are planning to keep.

Something that struck me was that there were fewer high jewellery pieces this year and more bejewelled Offshores, what was the rationale?

This year we decided to merge high jewellery with high watchmaking. This is why we focused on our first concept for ladies. By merging both worlds, I wanted to find a complication which still allowed us to play with the design. In this case, we felt that the flying tourbillon would be perfect, the first in the Audemars Piguet world. Then when we started working that, we decided to take it to the concept GMT for men; we made two versions for women including a baguette set diamond version with the invisible setting technique, the white gold frame virtually disappears, it’s a brilliant high jewellery piece because the stones look virtually suspended. As you know, at Audemars Piguet high jewellery and high complications are not mutually exclusive, we like to have a full collection to offer.

Not to assume, based on your joining of high jewellery and high complications, your counterpart over at Cartier, Marie-Laure feels that women have a long way to go towards enjoying highly complicated watches, do you agree with this position?

I don’t believe it’s a long way. The interest is definitely on the rise and I believe it’s our job to keep informing them and talk to them in their language, and that’s what we are doing with the concept watch and as you have seen in the Millenary. This year we are doing strap animations, we’re doing opal, we are frosting the case, we have incorporated a mechanical calibre which has taken us five years to develop. We want them to see the beating heart through the dial of the watch while having personal contact with the piece through daily winding of the watch. I don’t believe we have a long way. Women love to have choices – you can have a quartz watch or a mechanical piece, and if its communicated in the way they understand, they will appreciate. It’s not that we’re less interested in technical pieces, we are just less interested in technical words. It just needs to be communicated in a more romantic way.

How do you balance between creating what they want and creating a need that they will want?

This is what we do when creating a signature Audemars Piguet timepiece for both men and women. We are rule breakers. The difference between Apple and Samsung is that Samsung does focus groups to understand what clients want. Apple doesn’t ask, they just create things that people need. I believe that we are Apple of the horological world. Yes, we do look at what our competitors do to stay informed and then we decide what we can do that will be completely unexpected yet exactly what the people need. It’s not only in terms of movement but with design. Look at the Royal Oak Offshore 25th anniversary, it’s a totally design driven piece- case, bezel, strap, buckle, bridges, push pieces, push piece guards, we considered everything. Of course it creates some controversy, much as the original Offshore did in 1993. Look at where we are today.

Keep a look out for Part 2 where we catch up with other watch designers who have long toiled in the shadows of watchmakers.

Jake Gyllenhaal is Cartier’s New Campaign Star

Iconic Timepiece: Cartier Santos X Mr Porter

Iconic Timepiece: Cartier Santos X Mr Porter

After a first successful collaboration to bring the Panthère de Cartier high jewelry collection to fruition and debuted successfully in 2017, Mr Porter is teaming up with Cartier once again to reissue seven Santos wristwatches, including one exclusive steel model with a black grained leather strap. Other variations such as rose gold, yellow gold and steel are available.

The iconic Cartier Santos timepiece that was manufactured in 1904 was designed by Louis Cartier for an old friend, who was an aviation pioneer. The Santos wristwatch took after the name of his friend, Mr Alberto Santos-Dumont.

More than a century later, “the new Santos de Cartier watch is an authentic and contemporary re-working of a classic,” said Toby Bateman, Managing Director at Mr Porter.

The wristwatch has been given a new lease of life to reflect a more contemporary look while staying true to the marque’s signature DNA. The updated versions feature an in-house caliber, a new bezel and new materials.

“This is an excellent opportunity to provide our global Mr Porter customer with an iconic brand that we know they have been waiting for, and we look forward to launching further Cartier collections later in 2018,” added Bateman.

The new Santos range of watches will go on sale from April 5 on Mr Porter.

5 Fine Timepieces to Buy for HIM

Whether it’s through auctions, selling exhibitions or private sales, Sotheby’s offers buyers the simplest and most reliable place to buy and sell highly valuable, unique objects. Looking for watches to buy online? Sotheby’s BidNow programme allows visitors to view all auctions live online and place bids from anywhere in the world. With about 11 more days to bid, browse these five exquisite timepieces that we have selected FOR HIM.

5 Fine Timepieces For HIM (Online-Only Auction)

LOT 1: ROLEX

Estimate: CHF15,000 – CHF20,000
Current Bid:
CHF15,000 (3 BIDS) RESERVE MET 

This watch uses the calibre 4130 automatic lever movement, with a 40 mm case and black ceramic bezel with tachymeter scale calibrated to 400 units. It has screw down chronograph pushers, crown and back as well as a stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet with folding clasp. The black dial features applied luminescent baton indexes, subsidiary dials for constant seconds, 30-minute and 12-hour registers, including 44 jewels  to complete this version of the Rolex Daytona Circa 2016 (Reference 116500LN). Accompanied by a Rolex guarantee card, instruction booklet and presentation case.

LOT 3: ROLEX

Estimate: CHF2,000 – CHF4,000
Current Bid:
CHF2,600 (6 BIDS) RESERVE MET

The Rolex (Reference 14270) Explorer Circa 2000 features an in-house manufactured calibre 3000 automatic lever movement, a 35 mm case, fitted with a stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet with folding clasp. This version of the iconic Rolex Explorer Circa 2000 will appeal to future buyer for its simple and luxurious design. On black dial showcases 27 jewels, applied luminescent Arabic numerals and baton indexes. Overall, the dial and hands are said to be in very good condition with minor scuffs and scratches of the case and bracelet.

Lot 6: Audemars Piguet

Estimate: CHF12,000 – CHF16,000
Current Bid:
CHF11,000 (3 BIDS) RESERVE MET

The Royal Oak Circa 2012 (Reference 26320ST.00.1220ST.01 MVT) uses calibre 2385, automatic lever movement with a 41 mm stainless steel  Royal Oak case and octagonal bezel, with caseback secured by 8 screws. The design of this Royal Oak Circa 2012 timepiece features a black tapisserie dial, showcasing 37 jewels,  applied luminescent indexes, subsidiary dials for constant seconds, 30-minute and 12-hour registers, and aperture for date. It has a stainless steel Audemars Piguet bracelet with double folding clasp. Buyer of this watch will receive the Audemars Piguet certificate booklet, instruction manual, and a presentation case.

Lot 13: Franck Muller

Estimate: CHF4,000 – CHF6,000
Current Bid:
CHF3,800 (2 BIDS) RESERVE NOT MET

The 18k pink-gold Franck Muller timepiece uses an in-house manufactured calibre 2800MB (eta 2892/2) has a gold tonneau-form case with an 18k pink gold  Franck Muller buckle. This watch features an automatic centre seconds and has 21 jewels, a silvered dial with Arabic numerals and an aperture for date. The caseback is secured by 4 screws. The buyer of this exquisite timepiece will receive the Franck Muller Certificate of Origin.

Lot 14: Cartier

Estimate: CHF2,000 – CHF4,000
Current Bid:
CHF2,400 (10 BIDS) RESERVE MET

Framed by a DLC-coated titanium square case and the bezel and caseback secured by (8 screws on each side), the watch is fitted with a DLC-coated titanium and stainless steel Cartier double folding clasp. On the black dial shows the automatic Chronograph wristwatch with registers and date reference 3104 case 184611PX Santos 100 Circa 2010. Featuring Calibre 8630, automatic movement and 27 jewels, the black dial has Roman numerals and secret signature at VII. The dial and hands are in excellent condition, with minor scuffs and scratches on the case.

www.sothebys.com

Cartier Love Bracelet: A Gift for your Better Half this Valentine’s Day

Cartier LOVE Bracelet: A Gift for your Better Half this Valentine’s Day

There is a longing for love in our hearts and often, they come in different forms and gestures. A divine love shared between two soulmates forms an unbreakable bond. When you have found love, be glad and cherish it for all eternity. Until your big day, you will never have to say goodbye again…

Celebrate a love union and dare to declare your love. After all, the way to a woman’s heart is not only about a grand gesture. Love keeps no scores of wrong and with each pledge you make, you are affirming and strengthening the bond between two.

Take this opportunity to show her you care this Valentine’s Day. How about gifting your better half a LOVE Bracelet from Cartier and use it as a pledge of strength, a state of mind, and a symbol of commitment to romance?

Turn your Promise into a Commitment

Created by Cartier, Cartier’s LOVE collection remains a classic symbol of love that tests and transcends boundaries and stimulates the senses. Notable for its screw motifs and that ideal oval shape, there is an undeniable timeless elegance to each jewellery piece.

Making a comeback as a re-edition this February, this latest version of Cartier’s LOVE Bracelets are more delicate, featuring a wrist-hugging oval shape and punctuated with the iconic screw motifs.

Available in yellow gold, pink gold and white gold, each LOVE Bracelet is set to make ordinary objects into precious metals of desire, sealing your relationship within an everlasting circle of Love.

Shop online for gift items at Cartier’s official website here

New Watch: SIHH 2018 Cartier Rotonde Double Tourbillon Mystérieux Squelette

 

For SIHH 2018 Cartier takes inspiration from yet again from the brand’s vintage mystery clocks from the early 20th century. The SIHH 2018 Cartier Rotonde Double Tourbillon Mystérieux Squelette is a follow up to that 2013 edition Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Double Tourbillon except this time in even smaller quantity – a limited production of 30 pieces; and skeletonised!

New Watch: SIHH 2018 Cartier Rotonde Double Tourbillon Mystérieux Squelette

Working on the same principle of a toothed rim sapphire disc driven by gears hidden like the vintage “mysterious” clocks, the SIHH 2018 Cartier Rotonde Double Tourbillon Mystérieux Squelette is a 42mm platinum double tourbillon encased with double sapphire crystals on the front and back, highlighting the mystery of the Swiss manual-wind Cartier in-house caliber 9465 MC with 26 jewels, 21,600 vph and a power reserve of 52 hours.

Featuring the Geneva Seal, the Squelette or Skeleton timepiece is assembled and decorated to exemplify the highest horology standards as befitting a timepiece with the coveted shield. The dial of the of the new Cartier Rotonde Double Tourbillon Mystérieux Squelette presents a face with skeletonized Roman numerals and blued steel hands, operated via Cabochon sapphire crown. The limited edition new Cartier Skeleton watch is likely to follow other watches in the family with its bridges and base plate crafted in German silver to provide the necessary rigidity as a result of fragility resulting from the skeletonisation process.

German Silver is somewhat of a misnomer, as it does not actually contain any silver but is instead a mixed alloy of nickel, copper, and zinc. Sister brand, A. Lange and Sohne elects to use German silver for its calibres due to its durability coupled with relative ease of decoration and crafting.

The new watch for SIHH 2018 comes on a matching marine blue alligator leather strap with an 18kt white gold deployant. The Rotonde Double Tourbillon Mystérieux Squelette follows up on Cartier’s SIHH 2017 where they launched the Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Hour.

New Watch: SIHH 2018 Cartier Rotonde Day & Night Mysterious

New Watch: SIHH 2018 Cartier Rotonde Day & Night Mysterious

For SIHH 2018, Cartier is releasing the Rotonde Day & Night Mysterious or officially in French, the Cartier Rotonde Jour & Nuit MystérieuxRecalling the Cartier Ref. 28721 Rotonde Day & Night from the retired ‘Collection Privée, Cartier Paris’ series with JLC movement from 2006, the new SIHH 2018 Rotonde Day & Night Mysterious is bearer of a mysterious twist – a special transparent day and night indicator.

New Watch: SIHH 2018 Cartier Rotonde Day & Night Mysterious

The original 2006 Rotonde Jour et Nuit wasn’t exactly a limited production but it was serially produced in very small quantities not numbering more than 100 in pink gold and 100 in white gold. For SIHH 2018, Cartier not only uses a new sapphire disc bearing the “comet” style day and night indicator (itself inspired by a vintage 1920s Cartier clock) but also with a new Cartier manual-wind in-house calibre 9982 MC with 48 hours power reserve.

Cartier Day and night comet clock -Diamonds, enamel, agate – 1920. Exposition

Historically, vintage Cartier Comet clocks operated on a similar mechanical principle, using decorative elements etched on discs to indicate time, a concept which independent watchmaker Svend Andersen, working with Cartier at the time, took to make the original Jour et Nuit, or Day and Night.

Stylised sun and moon motif rotates once every 24 hours on the SIHH 2018 Cartier Rotonde Day & Night Mysterious indicates the hours on the top half of the dial while the blue steel hand indicates retrograde minutes on the bottom half of the satin guilloche brown dial.

The 40mm Cartier Rotonde Jour & Nuit Mystérieux is available in 18kt rose or white gold and comes equipped with a sapphire crystal, a sapphire display back, and it is water resistant to 30 meters. Naturally, it comes with Cartier’s signature  Cabochon sapphire crown and worn with a grey alligator leather strap with an 18kt rose or white gold deployant.

Over 170 years of tradition and craftsmanship headlined by Cartier Résonances de Cartier High Jewelry Gala

Since 1847, the Maison Cartier has been synonymous with beauty, excellence, creativity and a unique savoir-faire. From its jewelry tradition, the Maison has blossomed into the inventor of an iconic and universal style while constantly pioneering new ground. Like a wave in motion, light echoes through a diamond illuminating brilliance and lighting its fire. A modern day masterpiece takes form in an infinite rhythm of precious materials and exquisite gems. Introducing the new Cartier High Jewelry collection, Résonances de Cartier.

Throughout its history, Cartier has determined the fates of exquisite gems. Diamonds such as the Williamson, the Hope and the Tereshchenko have been cast as the starring role in masterful works of style and light. Colored, fiery or magnificent, all are stones with a storied past. In honoring their eternal beauty, Cartier has changed the course of history for these legendary gems.

Introducing the new Cartier High Jewelry collection, Résonances de Cartier.

Over 170 years of tradition and craftsmanship headlined by Cartier Résonances de Cartier High Jewelry Gala

Cyrille Vigneron, President & CEO of Cartier International, and Mercedes Abramo, President & CEO of Cartier North America, celebrated Résonances de Cartier, the house’s new high jewelry collection, with a private dinner at Governors Island. Guests included Alexandra Richards, Anh Duong, Arthur Elgort, Bianca Brandolini, Carey Mulligan, Carlotta Kohl, Carolyn Murphy, Casey Neistat, Celerie Kemble, Charlotte Groeneveld, Charlotte Kidd, Derek Blasberg, Diane Kruger, Eugenie Niarchos, Fernando Garcia & Laura Kim, Gucci Westman & David Neville, Hannah Bronfman, Jason Wu, Jessica Hart, Harry & Jill Kargman, Martha Stewart, Mazdack & Zanna Roberts Rassi, Nicky Rothschild, Pat Cleveland, Sofia Boutella, Sofia Coppola, and Zoe Buckman were transported to a surprise location created and designed exclusively for the event. The New York City skyline served as the backdrop while guests enjoyed a preview of Cartier’s exquisite jewels. Following cocktails, renowned Chef Dan Barber prepared a custom menu, and the evening culminated with a performance by singer/songwriter Andra Day and surprise appearance from Jon Batiste, as well as set by legendary DJ Grandmaster Flash.

Jessica Hart

 

Following the Gala, Cartier will celebrate over 170 years of tradition and craftsmanship in High Jewelry, with the opening of The Cartier Haute Joaillerie Exhibition at its Fifth Avenue flagship. The largest ever collection of Cartier High Jewelry on display in the U.S., the exhibition will be open to the public from October 21 to October 29. The Maison will also feature an immersive Cartier Atelier experience where guests will discover firsthand the artistry and innovation behind Cartier High Jewelry creations, including some of the world’s finest gems and precious stones.

What they wore at the Cartier Résonances de Cartier High Jewelry Gala

 

5 Cartier Wristwatches from pre-SIHH

Cartier revisits some of the Cartier Libre Collection

For the most discerning connoisseur of Cartier, a unique showcase of exquisite watches from the luxury brand will be back next year. To set the tone and excitement towards SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève), the brand unveils five new and exclusive watches in the Cartier Libre Collection for women ahead of the grand-scale event taking place in Geneva, in January 2018. Looking gorgeous and prestigious, each of these limited edition jewellery watch is individually numbered: Crash Radieuse, Baignoire Débordante, Baignoire Etoilée, Baignoire Infinie and Baignoire Interdite.

Baignoire Interdite

Turn the oval dial on its side of the Baignoire timepiece and watch the diamond ringed dial flicker and hide. Between the top of the watch is an oversized Roman numeral in glossy black ADLC. Baignoire Interdite has a white gold case with paved bezel. Numbered limited edition of 50 pieces.

Baignoire Débordante

A dainty yet prestigious looking, Baignoire Débordante features a white-gold case set studded with diamonds and black spinels, resembling a ring of open petals. However, the inner layer of this solid timepiece takes on a much simpler approach with its oval dial harmonising with the facetted hour- and minute- hand. When simplicity is most beautiful at its best, simplicity wins every time. Only 50 of such limited edition watches will be produced.

Crash Radieuse

Limited to 50 pieces, the Crash Radieuse has a yellow gold case with Manual 8970 MC movement instead of white gold cases with quartz movements, found only in all the Baignoire watches. What’s eye-catching about this timepiece is its prominent crushed oval shape dial that blends in quietly with a set of outsized Roman numerals and blue hour and minute hand.

Baignoire Etoilée

Given the artful architecture, this watch expresses time in the most subtle way and it can also be worn as a classy fashion jewellery. Featuring a crystalline cascade of glittering diamonds on the bracelet accentuated against the black spinels, the double row of stones ringed around the dial set make the most striking juxtaposition. Numbered limited edition of 15 pieces.

Baignoire Infinie

Drawing the gaze into the hour circle, this watch has the tiniest dial amongst other dials of the Libre collection here. Just slightly outside of the outer layer is a shimmering sight of studded baguette cut diamonds on the case. The watch is decorated with white mother-of-pearl, Tahitian mother-of-pearl, and the tiny minuscule black dial is encircled by three layers of paved gemstones. The Baignoire Infinie is limited to 20 pieces.

Truly Timeless: Iconic watch Cartier Tank Turns 100

Tank Louis Cartier large and small model

Hand to heart, how many watch icons can you name, off the top of your mind, which are 100 years old? The Sub? It’s a smidge over 60. The Oak? In its mid 40s. While these exemplars have withstood relative lengths of time, only one watch has survived a centennial of wavering tastes and trends, on that basis, only one watch design which could truly be, defined by its tenure, a true watch icon. That watch is the iconic Carter Tank.

Truly Timeless: The Cartier Tank, a 100 years a Watch Icon

Tank Louis Cartier

With the advent of social media and the internet, ever decreasing attention spans and ever increasing exposure to a myriad of designs and aesthetics have shaped our tastes and attention spans so surely that many previously held “icons” or popular styles are eventually discarded (at best) and worst, wilfully ignored like they never existed (bell bottoms and flared collars anyone?) Yet, for a 100 years, sans a name on the dial and even with another moniker on the dial (e.g. Tiffany), it stands to reason that some watch shapes and forms are so distinctly and irreversibly associated with a brand that by virtue of its history and provenance, it becomes on the world’s most iconic watches.

“The Cartier tank is a celebration of design bravado – only the King of Jewellers would have had the moxie to create a wristwatch based on the form of the tank.” – Ashok Soman, Editor, WOW

My esteemed colleague and fellow watch aficionado, Ashok Soman has said, “The Cartier tank is a celebration of design bravado – only the King of Jewellers would have had the moxie to create a wristwatch based on the form of the tank.” It is not often that we concur (given the acceptance of a diversity of opinions and positions on any given subject) but on this, and as I have stated before, an instrument of war, ushering a wristwatch of such elegance is oddly ironic. The Tank or the Tank watch (where it takes it’s name) is indeed based on the war machine that changed the battlefield forever when it was introduced at the tail-end of World War 1.

Tank Française medium model

Soman correctly points out that the Cartier Tank is the world’s most famous and successful tank-inspired watch. The first Tank rolled out of Louis Cartier’s imagination in 1917, a true-born wristwatch that foreshadowed the rise of this new style in watchmaking. That means that the Tank watch did not exist as a pocket watch, and was conceived to be a mobile treat, where its deadly inspiration was more of a mobile threat.

 “I don’t wear a [Cartier] Tank watch to tell the time. In fact, I never wind it. I wear a Tank because it’s the watch to wear.” –  Andy Warhol

According to Cartier, Louis Cartier actually presented one of the very first Tank watches to General John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War I. Truly, its beauty was such that Rudolph Valentino mandated that he would wear the watch in The Son of the Sheik in 1926, despite the incongruity of such a move. And then there is Andy Warhol, who once said that he never bothered winding up his Cartier Tank watch. Here’s how the artist put it: “I don’t wear a [Cartier] Tank watch to tell the time. In fact, I never wind it. I wear a Tank because it’s the watch to wear.”

Tank cintrée skeleton pink gold model with Mechanical movement with manual winding, 9917 MC.

Given Warhol’s inclinations, one can also surmise that Cartier, through their singular act in history, creating the first “tool watch” for a pilot named Santos in 1904, then propelled into motion, the idea that wristwatches weren’t just a niche thing for women, but rather, as Cartier eventually points out, as a practical invention, a watch worn on wrist for soldiers (in this case, a general) in times of war no less. In short, Tank became the watch to wear because it defined the category for wristwatches (but that’s another story – coincidentally, one to catch in the next issue of World of Watches – but I digress).

That said, Warhol is by no means the only celebrity nor the first. The first being the commander of the American Expeditionary Force, Valentino followed, Gary Cooper, Alain Delon, Yves Saint Laurent, Lady Di, Sofia Coppola, Catherine Deneuve, to name more than a few – in fact, if one were seeking commonalities, these individuals were not just celebrities but icons of exquisite tastes and trendsetters of their respective periods. Even Jackie O’s watch is now infamously owned by a Kardashian.

Since the first commercial models of 1919, Cartier has released no less than six different families of Tank watches, showcasing the design strengths and flexibility of the Tank shape. For the 100th anniversary, Cartier debuts new models in the Tank Louis Cartier, Tank Americaine and Tank Francaise ranges. For our part, we are most intrigued by the Cartier Tank Cintree Skeleton, which features the beautiful form calibre 9917 MC. Unlike most Tank variants, this one skips out on the roman numerals, which itself is noteworthy.

This article was co-written by Ashok Soman, Editor, World of Watches

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.