Cartier Signed Cartier, naturally
Whether the skeleton movement for the Tank MC or the mysterious movements for Rotonde watches, they all clearly bear the Cartier signature.
Since its creation in 1917, the Tank watch collection has been constantly extended and 2013 sees the birth of a new almost square version that is more masculine than ever. Named Tank MC for Manufacture Cartier, it comes in steel, pink gold or High Jewellery versions equipped with Calibre 1904 MC, the first in-house developed self-winding movement, as well as in a Fine Watchmaking version with a palladium case and an openworked hand-wound movement, Calibre 9211 MC.
Numerals by way of baseplate and bridges
Launched in 2009 among the first movements from the Manufacture Cartier, Calibre 9611 MC features an original architecture perfectly representative of the House style. The characteristic Roman numerals found on a number of dials appear here on the movement itself. Their presence is much more than a mere exercise in style, since they actually form the baseplate and the bridges from which the calibre’s functional parts are suspended. Incorporating a display within the structure of the movement represents a world-first achievement for which a patent has been filed. This exclusive watch is a hand-wound model endowed with twin barrels guaranteeing a 72-hour power reserve. Its delicate hand finishing – bevelled bridges, satin-brushed flanks, hand-drawn faces and circular satin-brushed wheels – may be admired through the two sapphire crystals on either side of the new Tank MC.
Before powering the Tank MC, Calibre 911 MC drove a Santos 100 and a Santos Dumont. The 9612 MC and 9614 MC versions, also presented in Santos Dumont models, were distinguished by the anthracite or pink gold colour of their numerals. Moreover, the concept was echoed in round-shaped flying tourbillon movements on versions featuring Roman numerals for Calibres 9453 MC and 9455 MC of the Rotonde collection and Arabic numerals for Calibre 9557 MC in the Pasha collection.
An aura of mystery
A longstanding speciality of Cartier, ‘mysterious hours’ have been interpreted in numerous splendid ways through a perpetually renewed collection of precious clocks. They are now featured in an entirely innovative Rotonde wristwatch. The hands, which appear to be floating freely with no apparent connection to the movement, are driven by sapphire discs that are made to turn on slender pivots rather than in guide grooves. This system keeps both friction and energy consumption to a minimum. A peripheral gear wheel made using high-precision DRIE (Deep Reactive Ion Etching) technology and involving three-dimensional growth of the metal, optimises the inertia of the large-diameter discs. Calibre 9981 MC boasts a modular construction that facilitates final assembly: the movement itself, mounted in a crescent shape on the baseplate, and the display module placed in a circular space that is left free, are separately made before being fitted together. To preserve the aura of mystery, Cartier refrains from revealing all. While most of the components are visible through the sapphire case-back of the Rotonde Mystery Watch, the connection between the movement and the module remains resolutely invisible – a nod to Louis Cartier who had demanded that the modus operandi of the mysterious clocks should remain secret and not be revealed even to salespersons.
A double tourbillon that appears to be levitating
Likewise, the double tourbillon housed in Calibre 9454 MC also remains shrouded in mystery. The magical effect is further accentuated by a rotating sapphire disc with a tourbillon-shaped opening. Not only does the flying-type tourbillon carriage spin on its axis once a minute, as in a classic tourbillon construction, but the entire device performs a five-minute rotation within the transparent space accommodating it – and all this naturally in the absence of any apparent connection with any gear wheels! It truly appears to be levitating. The trick actually lies in a rack-and-pinion mechanism fitted on the edge of the sapphire plate that transforms it into a toothed wheel. The choice of a five-minute rotation was determined by a wish to minimise the consumption of energy – which would have been 25 times great for a 1-minute rotation. With the Rotonde de Cartier Double Mystery Tourbillon Watch, Cartier once again demonstrates its capacity to create true signature movements that are recognisable at first glance.
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.Find out more >
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