It was a dazzling display of glitz and glamour in Geneva as Cartier served up a feast for the eyes at Watches and Wonders Geneva. The French jeweller served up a treat that saw up to 87 creations unveiled. At the heart of the narration was interpreting time as cyclical instead of linear. Creativity becomes nonexhaustive through an endless cycle of transformation and reinvention as one collection guides the next since founder Louis Cartier’s first creations. This year’s novelties explored the many universes of Cartier as rich storytelling was met with the Maison’s watchmaking savoir-faire and eminence in jewellery making. Archival pieces were given a revitalising touch as old-world charm marries with contemporary elegance. A cursory glance through the year’s novelty reveals another of Cartier’s secrets to its continued excellence — its mastery of shapes and forms.
Louis Cartier’s vision and eye for the unconventional in 1904 set precedence for today; the Santos de Cartier watch was a square watch with rounded curves. Other shapes, such as the cloche, pebble, and tortue, to name a few, soon came about, some more peculiar than others. They held special places through Cartier’s era and were physical manifestations of the Maison’s design evolution through the decades.
Cartier Privé, now in its seventh year, celebrates another mythical creation in the Maison’s archives with the Privé Tank Normale. The revered Tank is one of Cartier’s enduring symbols, characterised by the purity of lines of a pair of vertical brancards. Inspired by the edition made by Louis Cartier in 1917 and sold two years later, the Cartier Privé Tank Normale evokes the past with pepperings of Cartier’s contemporary aesthetics. Seven variations of the magnum opus were created, with one of the highlights being crafted in platinum, a first amongst the Cartier Privé collections. A bevelled sapphire crystal from the original creation appears alongside the unmistakable touches of the Tank. A cabochon crown, blued hands, minute rail track and the secret signature found their way into the Cartier Privé Tank Normale.
While the platinum version is a showstopper, one cannot deny the visual spectacle of the skeletonised Cartier Privé Tank Normale watch. The Maison’s signature skeletonised touch showcases the vivacity of Cartier’s penchant for watchmaking flair. Motifs of the sun and its rays and the moon and craters are carved into the bridges. Cartier altered the dial orientations with a 24-hour dial layout. By doing so, the daylight hours are positioned on the upper half of the dial while night hours are on the bottom half. The skeletonised Cartier Privé Tank Normale watch is clad in platinum as indicated by the ruby-set crown and is powered by the manual winding Calibre 9628 MC. Only 50 examples are being made, with another 50 in a yellow gold case and another 20 in platinum with a diamond-set bezel.
Cartier Baignoire Allongée
Crafted during the 1960s in Swinging London, the Cartier Baignoire Allongée was as extravagant as its case shape suggested. An exaggerated oval case bore sensuous curves throughout; it was dainty on the wrist yet commanded presence with its precious execution. Cartier’s Métiers d’art division upped the wow factor with this year’s creation as artisans realised a creative vision that took no less than nine artistry departments more than 24 months to create. The collective wealth of expertise had hurdles to overcome, given the audacity and complexity of the task. The first major challenge was micro-welding a white and yellow gold case section to form a cohesive case.
A thin layer of lacquer was used to conceal the weld lines while enamelling the curved surfaces of the case is an arduous process that requires hours of intense heating before being set with 212 brilliant-cut diamonds. The vibrancy of the case perpetuates the dial as the various sections demonstrate Cartier’s artisanal nuances. Sunray motifs are hand engraved with a spike, while other sections involve lacquering and enamelling to bring depth and richness of colours to the dial.
The Cartier Santos-Dumont pays homage to the Brazilian aviator and friend of Louis Cartier, Alberto Santos-Dumont, whose efforts in aviation paved the way for the advancement of manned flight. Louis Cartier’s solution to a wearable timepiece saw the birth of the first men’s wristwatch, as the Cartier Santos watch was aptly named after the aviator. The squared watch features softened corners and exposed bezel screws that lend an industrial yet elegant appeal. Of the many flying inventions Santos-Dumont conceived, the Demoiselle finds its way into the Santos-Dumont Skeleton watch. The Maison’s eminence in skeletonisation plays with positive and negative spaces as an ostentatious display of skill involving removing non-essential components.
A stroke of creativity sees the Demoiselle rendered as both an aesthetic and functional component of the watch. While idle, the aeroplane levitates gracefully before spinning diligently as the watch’s micro oscillating weight. The calibre 9629 MC was specially conceived for this particular Cartier Santos-Dumont reference and featured 212 individual components that took two years to develop. Three variations are made, with the limited edition version rendered in a yellow gold case with navy lacquered bezel and case, while the rose gold or stainless steel pieces feature a monochromatic look.
Cartier Clash [Un]limited
Crafted as a clash of ideas and a contrast of ideals, the Cartier Clash highlighted the duality of Cartier’s expressiveness. The Cartier Clash caught the imagination of many with its rebellious streak that went against conventional jewellery-making codes. This year, Cartier continues to explore the infinite possibilities of creativity that resulted in the Clash [Un]limited.
The highly extroverted creation featured beads, picot studs and clou carrés as the graphical cocktail distracted the watch from prying eyes. Despite its perceived rigidity, a mobile structure allowed the Clash [Un]limited to mould itself to any wrist shape. Each section is a combination of preciousness; rose gold formed the Clash [Un] limited’s foundation before being adorned with diamonds, spinels, tsavorites, coral, and chrysoprase.