Cartier The mysteries of high-jewellery watchmaking
Rather than concatenating the skills that have marked its history, Cartier is now attempting to multiply them. The result of the operation is a collection of fabulous unique pieces.
Every year at the SIHH Cartier holds a parallel exhibition. At its booth, Cartier presents between 20 and 40 jewellery watches in closed display cases. These are not to be found in its catalogue, and the public will not see them in the shops. They are not produced in multiple copies to satisfy a number of clients. They are creative, superbly executed, high-end unique pieces. Up to 2016, Cartier had juxtaposed these examples of rare savoir-faire, but had never really got them talking to each other.
On one side, you would have a stunning creation richly set with an abundance of precious stones. On the other, you would have a variety of watch movements, whose primary purpose was to tell the time. They were not really part of the show, or only a small part. In 2016 Cartier decided to multiply high jewellery with haute horlogerie. The result was Cartier squared: mechanical expertise combined with fine jewellery, speaking with a single voice to enchant, surprise and elicit desire.
The new mathematics of high-jewellery watchmaking make the most of mysterious movements, whose secret mechanisms enable the hands to float within a transparent disc. Time is suspended in space, leaving no hint as to how the feat has been achieved. The means are inscrutable: it must be magic. The mysterious movement is a reworking of a technique Cartier has continued to use in its table clocks, adapted now to the wrist and a natural adjunct to Cartier’s fantastical universe.
Animal representations that rely upon the brand’s iconic motifs, Art Deco-inspired geometric designs, colour combinations that no other company could pull off – this ephemeral art gallery is wide-ranging and draws deeply from Cartier’s history. There is a dragon with a giant 24-carat mandarin fire opal on its head, a tiger skin and a bracelet that sparkles with honey-coloured facets. A panther curls around a mysterious watch, its spots and eyes of blue sapphire standing out against a background of snow-set diamonds. A water snake with turquoise, onyx and diamond scales coils around a transparent watch dial.
Further along, a double bracelet, one in onyx and the other set with diamonds, are interlinked like the Rings of Saturn that gives the timepiece its name. The keystone of the show is nevertheless the Azuré Tourbillon Mystérieux, a mysterious hours double tourbillon pendant inspired by a moth. The pendant carries a 26-carat Ceylon sapphire, a transparent caseback completing the total symbiosis with the timepiece’s mechanical heart.
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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.Find out more >
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