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Cartier - The Tonneau’s big comeback

Cartier The Tonneau’s big comeback

The dandy’s watch, with its renowned elongated and curved design, is back this year with two different versions.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Cartier watches is the volume of the watch cases, their lines and their proportions, even the link between the case and the width of the strap. These shaped watches – unlike round watches – make up the lion’s share of the Cartier collection and were, in fact, how Louis Cartier kicked off his entrance into watchmaking. The first square Santos appeared in 1904, followed two years later by the Tonneau. The Crash, Tank, Tortue and Drive followed (in no particular order).

Some of these watches were reinterpreted for fans and collectors between 1998 and 2008 as part of the Collection Privée Cartier Paris (CPCP). These vintage-themed limited editions were paired with high-end movements from the likes of Piaget and Jaeger-LeCoultre, to which Cartier applied its own personal decorations. The brand pursued a similar approach in 2015 with the Cartier Privé collection, which revisited men’s shaped watches, putting watchmaking technology at the service of design. It was the year of the Crash, followed in 2017 by the Tank Cintrée. 

In 2019 Cartier’s second-oldest wristwatch, the Tonneau, is being reproduced as two limited editions, after already being reinterpreted in the CPCP collection in 2006 for its centenary. The two new creations are an hour-minute and a skeleton dual time. Remaining faithful to the original 1906 design, they keep the typical oblong and curved shape of the case, the Roman numerals, the railway minute track, the screws for attaching the strap, the straight leather strap and the cabochon on the crown. Nevertheless, a number of things underscore their modernity.

Tonneau Grand Modèle

The Tonneau’s big comeback

Tonneau Grand Modèle, platinum © Cartier

This model comes as a limited edition of 100 in platinum (with a silver dial, sapphire-decorate crown and grey alligator strap) and a non-limited version in rose gold with a champagne dial, ruby cabochon and dark-brown strap. The curved case measures 46.1 mm x 26.2 mm and fits the wrist perfectly, measuring just 8.8mm in thickness. The bezel is cut out of a single block and the lugs, with their screws, are integrated into the case. The sunbrushed dials in silver and champagne with their applied Roman numerals have a more modern design than that of their predecessors. The Tonneau Grand Modèle is fitted with the new in-house calibre 1917 MC which beats at 21,600 vibrations per hour and offers a 38-hour power reserve.

The Tonneau’s big comeback

Montre Tonneau Grand Modèle, rose gold © Cartier

Tonneau Double Fuseau Squelette

Available with a rose-gold or platinum case, each as a limited edition of 100, this model also comes as a luxury jewellery piece set with baguette diamonds as a strictly limited edition of just 20. It shares the design of the Tonneau XL dual time model from the 2006 CPCP collection, with two vertically aligned displays, but adds two major differences: there is only one movement (rather than two separate movements) powering the two time zones and it is skeletonized. The case is also larger, at 52.4mm x 29.8mm and 11.9mm thick. 

The Tonneau’s big comeback

Tonneau Double Fuseau Squelette, platinum © Cartier

To adapt to the more elongated case, the gear trains have been aligned from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock and the movement itself has been curved to fit the shape of the case. This manually-wound 9919 MC calibre beats at 28,800 vibrations per hour and offers a comfortable power reserve of 60 hours. The bridges attached by visible screws recall the screws used to attach the strap and form two sub-dials that are perfectly integrated into the case. The bottom one is adjusted using a crown at 4 o’clock to adjust the second time zone in one-hour increments.

The Tonneau’s big comeback

Calibre 9919 MC © Cartier

The Tonneau’s big comeback

Tonneau Double Fuseau Squelette, rose gold © Cartier

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Characterised by audacity and inventiveness, Cartier’s watchmaking history reflects a unique state of mind: “jeweller of kings and king of jewellers”. Its renown is bound up in the tradition of excellence to which it is heir. Cartier was a forerunner in the use of platinum in jewellery and one of the pioneers of watchmaking.

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