iW Magazine

SIHH 2016: Cartier

Cartier in 2016 adds automatic winding to one of its emblematic open-work movements, expand its Crash Skeleton watch collection with a pink gold version and animate a Panther dial with a gold hummingbird that flies on demand.

Additional 2016 debuts include an incredible Rotonde De Cartier Astromystérieux, a pink gold, meteorite-dial edition of the Rotonde de Cartier Earth & Moon, a third edition of the Rotonde de Cartier Day & Night with retrograde moonphase display and a spectacular Panthère Mystérious Hour that combines two of Cartier’s most revered symbols, a jeweled panther and the two floating hands of a mystery dial.

Let’s look at the skeleton models first.

Clé de Cartier Automatic Skeleton

This entirely new Cartier collection debuted last year and owes its name to its winding crown, the shape and clicking action of which are inspired by traditionally wound clocks. At the September Watches & Wonders show in Hong Kong, Cartier added a mysterious hour version of the Clé de Cartier that hinted of what was to come in 2016.

That watch features a cutout Roman numeral dial adjacent to its floating mysterious hands. It still needs to be wound by hand, which has also been a requirement for the wearer of every Cartier skeleton watch ever made.

Until now.

This Clé de Cartier Automatic Skeleton is Cartier’s first-ever skeleton movement with automatic winding (Caliber 9612 MC). It’s an impressive achievement that maintains the beauty of Cartier’s skeleton designs, all of which artistically transform the movement’s functional bridges into Roman numerals–a design that Cartier alone has patented. But it’s not simply the bridges here that are skeletonized. So is the 22-karat gold rotor, which spins almost unnoticed, winding two visible barrels to a 48-hour power reserve.

The 41mm watch, forged in palladium and with an all-German silver (not brass) movement, will also be offered in a gem-set version.

Crash Skeleton

Recalling last year’s reintroduction of the Crash Skeleton, in platinum, Cartier for 2016 adds a pink gold version of the same watch, also in a 67-piece limited edition. Because of its Surreal-art-inspired shape, this caliber was especially difficult to develop, according to Cartier’s director of movement creation, Carole Forestier-Kasapi, who noted nearly every component had to be developed and recalculated to operate in an unusual shape. The movement, manual-winding Caliber 9618 MC, is essentially a beveled, satin-finished and polished sculpture.

Rotonde de Cartier Earth and Moon

Now with a meteorite dial and a pink gold case, this openwork model also features Cartier’s signature skeletonized and elongated Roman numerals. The 47mm Rotonde de Cartier Earth and Moon shows two indications: local time in the upper section with a second time zone represented by a 24-hour disc, while below is a lunar display with a tourbillon that actually plays the role of the moon when the on-demand moonphase indicator is activated.

The wearer presses the push piece at four o’clock to display the moon phase, which appears as a disc that slides across to conceal the tourbillon cage. The crescent formed reproduces the moon’s shape. Accuracy is calculated with an error of just one day every 126 years. The push piece at two o’clock provides a simple adjustment of the second time zone indication. Cartier will make fifteen of these watches.

Rotonde de Cartier Day / Night Retrograde Moon Phases

This enhanced re-visitation of a Cartier complication displays the Sun and Moon following each other across the upper part of the dial. Below this ongoing activity Cartier offers a moon phase display via a hand that encircles the appropriate moon phase as depicted in diamonds and sapphires. The dial here is deep blue lacquer illuminated by gold spangles. In 40mm white gold, this is the third version of this popular display; a high-jewelry version is also available.

Complicated Panthers

Adding even more with the new Panthère et Colibri (right) and Panthère Mysterious Hour (left), Cartier combines complicated features with a jeweled panther, a symbol that has been with the company since 1914.

The Panthère et Colibri is a 42.75mm white gold watch that Cartier makes a stage for a miniature mother-cub drama each time the crown is pressed. On the dial of the Panthères et Colibri (hummingbird) watch, the jeweled panther lies resting, seemingly alone, with a gold hummingbird nearby. When the crown is pressed the panther’s baby escapes its mother’s paws to chase after the bird, which takes to air just above the panthers. In an unusual combination of function and fun, the hummingbird is in fact indicating how much power remains on the 9915 MC mechanical movement.

To create this precious play, Cartier enlists a planetary gearing system with a power train separate from the timekeeping system. With three patents, this integrated caliber includes a slow-down mechanism (a governor) in the gearing to regulate the speed of the bird’s flight. The eye of the diamond-studded panther is a pear-shaped emerald and her spots are black lacquer.

The 40mm Cartier Panthère Mystérious Hour also complicates the feline Cartier symbol, here with another emblematic Cartier function, its famed mysterious dial. Atop the clear dial, with its movement hidden around its circumference, the Panther crouches with a coat of diamonds, black lacquer spots and emerald eyes.

Rotonde de Cartier Astromystérieux

Adding even more mystery to the sapphire disc-based complications Cartier demonstrated with its 2013 Mysterious Hour and Mysterious Double Tourbillon models, the new 43.5mm palladium or platinum-cased Astromystérieux has the entire escapement of the watch rotate centrally to indicate minutes. Like a conventional tourbillon, the Astromystérieux relies on a revolving cage whose motion is driven by a fixed wheel connected to the barrel. But unlike a conventional tourbillon, the Astromystérieux is distinguished by the central rotation of this mysterious flying cage over a period of one hour. In fact, the minute hand here is actually the bridge itself rotating on a sapphire disc, one of four such discs that make up this groundbreaking watch.

This hour hand is on a disc linked to the tourbillon disc, completing the time display. The large diameter of these two discs required Cartier to make a special kind of gear train. To protect these components, Cartier also developed an entirely new shock-absorption system. Also new is an unusual winding system (patent pending) based on the use of a sapphire disc in conjunction with the crown. This winding system is only one of three developments for which Cartier is applying for a patent. The other two involve developments in the brake lever system and the time-setting method. The watch is an impressive technical achievement.

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