Cartier watches from SIHH 2017: Novelty timepiece Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Hour
Collectors seeking timepieces with curiosity-provoking techniques will not leave disappointed by Cartier’s latest, which brings together two of its specialities
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.
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
This article was originally published in WOW.