Rotonde de Cartier AstroCalendaire: The Collection’s Flagship
The standard-bearer for Cartier’s fine watchmaking collection in 2014 was shown to the press late last year and has been receiving lavish praise since then. Truly, this is such an impressive watch that it will surely be the subject of much musing amongst watch journalists, perhaps even after the sheen of novelty has worn off. […]
The standard-bearer for Cartier’s fine watchmaking collection in 2014 was shown to the press late last year and has been receiving lavish praise since then. Truly, this is such an impressive watch that it will surely be the subject of much musing amongst watch journalists, perhaps even after the sheen of novelty has worn off. Needless to say, we thought it apt to briefly revisit the watch here even though we have already written about it extensively, online and in print.
First of all, it is fitting to point out that Cartier classifies this watch and the Rotonde de Cartier Earth and Moon under the banner of ‘technical creativity’. Some of the other watches in the Fine Watchmaking collection, including the Rotonde de Cartier Tourbillon Chronograph with 8-day power reserve, Rotonde de Cartier Day and Night, Tank Louis Cartier Sapphire Skeleton and Tank MC Two-Tone Skeleton, fall under the label ‘creative elegance’.
So, why are these two terms in play when all the watches are part of the Fine Watchmaking imprint anyway? From what we gather at the Cartier presentation at the SIHH 2014, the idea is that the Rotonde de Cartier AstroCalendaire and the Rotonde de Cartier Earth and Moon represent the Cartier vision of timekeeping. Cartier presents these as timekeeping innovations that have never existed in this particular style, hence the use of ‘technical creativity’. For our part, we are certain that both watches present time in ways never before attempted.
As you may recall, the platinum-cased 45mm AstroCalendaire is a perpetual calendar, meaning that it keeps track of the day, date and month of any given year, as mapped out by the Gregorian calendar. Unlike any other perpetual calendar though, this one has had its mechanical movement reimagined and reinvented from the ground up so that it functions and displays its indications in a way never before seen in a wristwatch. The nett effect is a watch with improved timekeeping stability – a gain of 85 per cent over conventional perpetual calendars we are told – and a highly intuitive display.
If you remember nothing else about the AstroCalendaire, keep this in mind: While the typical perpetual calendar uses either sub-dials or apertures with discs for its calendar displays, the AstroCalendaire uses the movement bridges paired with rotating blue PVD wheels. Calibre 9459 MC actually uses a mechanical memory to keep track of the progress of time through the year. Despite the patent-pending complexity of the system, you can easily see how it works by looking at the watch pictured here. In fact, the single crown adjustment system (except the day, managed by the corrector at 2 o’clock) makes operating the watch a breeze and quite safe, compared with most other perpetual calendars. The AstroCalendaire is limited to 100 pieces (price on application).