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New: Cartier Novelties for 2020 with Editorial Commentary

by Frank Chuo on April 28, 2020
Reviews

Cartier Novelties for 2020

The year 2020 has been a strange one to say the least. It has been a year of pestilence, quarantine, lockdown, but most importantly, a year of adaptability. With face-to-face contact strongly discouraged or outright criminalised in the wake of the pandemic, social and corporate events, including the annual watch fairs of Switzerland, have been cancelled. Brands have had to adapt to present this year’s novelties to their clients; Cartier is no exception. Cartier is not only presenting on the online platform of Watches & Wonders, but also going the extra-mile by launching its own consumer-friendly platform called the Cartier Watchmaking Encounters.

Not dissimilar to the approach of other brands, this years novelties are more focused on re-imagination and aesthetic changes, rather than invention and innovation. For instance, there is the revival of the Pasha collection (the watch was originally designed by Gerald Genta), the re-release of the Tank Asymétrique (as part of the Cartier Privé collection), and the introduction of Santos de Cartier watches with ADLC finish. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here, we bring you the details and our thoughts on all of Cartier’s novelties for 2020.

Tank Asymétrique

When it appeared in 1936, the Tank Asymétrique – also known at the time as the Parallélogramme or Losange – marked a break in tradition: unlike any other watch, it questioned the established order of things. With its two horizontal shafts connected by two oblique ones, and its numerals offset by 30 degrees to the right, the presence of the new Tank Asymétrique on the wrist is striking. Driving the Tank Asymétrique is the manufacture Calibre 1917 MC, a manually wound movement with only a thickness of 2.9 mm. On the dial, the Arabic numerals and their separating indices have been completely redesigned. The watch is available in pink gold with a grey dial and strap, in yellow gold with a champagne dial and brown strap, and in platinum with a silver-coloured dial, ruby cabochon and grey strap. The made-to-measure straps are fitted with an ardillon buckle. Each variant comes in a limited edition of 100 pieces.

Cartier has also come up with a skeletonised version of the Tank Asymétrique. In it is the Calibre 9623 MC skeleton movement that can be found at the centre of a bare structure, punctuated by the 12 and the 6. The integration of this specially developed calibre within an asymmetric watch fulfills the mission of the Cartier Privé collection: to apply technology to the service of design. The watch comes in yellow gold on a brown or grey strap, in platinum on a blue or black strap, and in a gem-set platinum version on a black or glossy blue strap. Made to measure, these straps are fitted with an ardillon buckle. The watches are also created in a limited series of 100 numbered pieces for each aesthetic.

The Tank Asymétrique is launched as part of the Cartier Privé collection, which highlights the design of the Maison’s legendary watches. Since 2015, Cartier Privé has been releasing variations in limited and numbered series. It doesn’t take a genius to know that the Tank Asymétrique is likely to be a cult favourite, at least amongst Cartier watch enthusiasts. The historical reference has been faithfully remade with several modern touches to keep things interesting. Out of the six, our favourite is the exceedingly charming yellow gold variant with champagne dial, as it is the most similar to the original Tank Asymétrique. The addition of the well-designed skeletonised variants is also a smart move by the Maison to cater to those with more contemporary tastes.

Métiers d’Art

This year, the artisans at La Chaux-de-Fonds reveal two new “Métiers d’Art” watches, created around the natural and the precious through exchanges between marquetry craftsmen, jewellers, designers, enamelers, gem-setters and miniature painters.

The first is the Ronde Louis Cartier – Straw and Gold Marquetry Watch, a timepiece that required the marquetry craftsman to be trained in gold work by the jewellers from the Maison des Métiers d’Art. Seventy-five blades of straw in different sizes and shades, produced in 11 colours, make up the parts of the décor. The feline’s head is comprised of more than sixty-five elements in white, yellow and pink gold, which are shaped and satin-finished one by one. With an unusual play of meta-exploration, yellow gold wires are embedded in natural straw elements. Cartier combines ceramic arts with the art of composition, to which marquetry belongs, by enameling the spots on the coat and eyes. The rich colour palette contrasts black and white with a large number of shades between opaline and yellow. For the eyes, four different shades come together on a miniscule surface. The spots in the background are created with miniature paint. Brought to life after more than 100 hours, 97 of which are spent on the dial alone, this creation is available in a limited edition of 30 individually numbered timepieces.

The second is the Ronde Louis Cartier – Enamel Filigree Watch. With this technique, enamel powder is heated, and the resulting glass is stretched until it takes the shape of bamboo, before being set and fixed to the dial by tiny strands of yellow gold. This creates the bamboo effect used in the foreground. To add perspective to the motif and play with the effects of depth, the craftsmen had to turn to other areas of expertise: domed champlevé enamel for the bamboo in the background and black spots of the beast’s fur and eyes, as well as miniature painting for the sky and the background bamboo. With a scene entirely dedicated to the Maison’s emblematic animal, this watch is also available in a limited edition of 30 individually numbered pieces.

Artistic timepieces may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Cartier’s latest Métiers d’Art pieces most certainly inspires awe. Using multiple rare crafts to create the two stunning watches, Cartier reminds us just how much artistic talent and skill is at its disposal.

Pasha de Cartier

The new Pasha de Cartier remains faithful to the original model from 1985 but even more sophisticated. It is classic, yet contemporary, and remains as edgy as ever. One of the key design elements of the Pasha de Cartier watch is the chained crown. In its new version, Cartier added increased refinement, equipping the winding crown, hidden under the fluted crown cover, with a blue spinel or sapphire. This division, and duplication, of blues enhances the ergonomics of the winding crown and the preciousness of the watch.

The watch can also be personalised in the form of a customisable engraving. Carved in the form of initials, the engraving appears under the crown cover, secret and undetectable. Indeed, it is only revealed when the famous chained crown of the Pasha de Cartier watch is unscrewed.

Perhaps the most pragmatic feature of the new Pasha de Cartier innovative strap. Thanks to the implementation of Cartier’s QuickSwitch system, the straps and bracelets can be interchanged with ease. The mechanism that makes this possible located discreetly under the case and is activated by a single push. Specifically for bracelets, there is also the patented SmartLink system. The SmartLink system allows the bracelet length to be adjusted by the owner without the use of a tool. Each SmartLink link is equipped with a push button that releases the fixing bar allowing removal or addition of the metal links of the Pasha de Cartier watch.

In spite of its elegant looks, the Pasha de Cartier has a water resistance of up to 10 bar thanks to its screw-connection design. It is also resistant to magnetism. The use of non-magnetic nickel phosphorus components for the movement’s escape mechanism as well as a shield made of a paramagnetic alloy integrated into the case allow the Calibre 1847 MC to effectively resist the strong magnetic fields.

The Pasha de Cartier comes in a myriad of variants. Clients are able to choose between a 35 or 41 mm case size; precious metal, stainless steel, or diamond-set case; date or no date; and bracelet or alligator leather strap. There are even two skeletonised versions with tourbillon movement (Calibre 9466 MC or Calibre 9624 MC) to choose from.

The reasons to celebrate the return of the Pasha de Cartier are plentiful. For one, it is a faithful tribute to the modern original that was imagined by legendary watch designer Gerald Genta. For another, it is a truly versatile watch, with its interchangeable strap/bracelet system, and its water and magnetic resistance. It is a watch that doesn’t just exude design elegance, but meant to be kept on the wrist daily.

Santos-Dumont Limited Edition

The new Santos-Dumont Limited Edition watches tell the story of aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont. Each of them now beats to the rhythm of the manually-wound Calibre 430 MC and is engraved with the original plans of Santos-Dumont himself. The watch is limited to 100 pieces.

The first of the four is the “Le Brésil” Santos-Dumont watch. The watch is rendered in platinum, with a silvered dial, sword-shaped hands, and a ruby on the winding crown. On the case back is an engraving of the design of Santos-Dumont’s very first machine, “Le Brésil”, created in 1898 – “the smallest” and “the most beautiful”, according to the aviator. Its unveiling took place on 4 July 1898, after which a series of airships numbered 1 to 22 would emerge between 1898 and 1909, representing his many attempts to defy the laws of weightlessness.

The next of the quartet is the “La Baladeuse”, rendered in yellow gold with a champagne dial, sapphire winding crown, blue sword hands and patinated green alligator leather strap. The watch is limited to 300 pieces. On the back is engraved the profile of “La Baladeuse” or “n°9”, an experimental-looking motorised airship in which Santos-Dumont crossed the French capital’s sky in 1903. A small, bulging single-seater, “La Baladeuse” was intended for the personal use of its creator, who wished to demonstrate its usefulness in urban spaces.

The third watch in line is the “n°14 bis”. It features a yellow gold bezel on a steel case, anthracite grey dial, blue spinel winding crown and gilded steel sword-shaped hands. The watch comes in a limited edition of 500 pieces. On the back is an engraving of “n°14 bis”. In this flying machine, often described as a ‘kite of compartments’, the pilot, standing in the fuselage, was connected to the rudder and fins by cables. On 23 October 1906, after a day full of pitfalls, the “n°14 bis” won the Archdeacon Cup. Then, on 12 November, it took the Aéro-Club award. Alberto thus became the first aviator to complete a flight of 220 metres verified by an official organisation.

Last but certainly not least, there is the “La Demoiselle” watch, an extra-large watch celebrating masculine elegance in 30 numbered pieces. The watch is rendered in platinum and features a ruby cabochon. It is matched with either a brown alligator leather or Panama fabric strap. On the dial, the central square evokes the design of the Panama weave. As a detail for the connoisseurs, the “Cartier” signature traditionally slipped into one of the branches of the ‘VII’ is replaced with “Santos”. The back is engraved with the design of the “La Demoiselle”, the most elegant of Santos’ flying machines. Created in 1908, “La Demoiselle” is Alberto Santos-Dumont’s most accomplished flying machine, and one of the first aircraft to be mass produced.

Much like the Tank Asymétrique, the Santos-Dumont Limited Edition watches ooze charm and nostalgia, and thus are sure to be a treat for Cartier and aviation fans. Our pick of the four, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the “La Demoiselle” for its unique dial and strap, Breguet hands, and the fact that it comes with some fascinating accessories: a Santos-Dumont box, a watch travel pouch, and Santos de Cartier cufflinks. The size (46.6 x 33.9 mm) may be a slight issue for some, however. Fortunately, the other three equally stunning Santos-Dumont watches are smaller at 43.5 mm x 31.4 mm. They are also more accessible in availability and almost certainly in price (TBD), ensuring that everyone gets to join in on the celebration of Santos-Dumont’s inventions.

Santos de Cartier

Cartier introduces multiple new variants of the Santos de Cartier. The iconic design of the watch remains unchanged but are now available with ADLC finish. The two new references are only available in the LM size: one model featuring a black dial with a full ADLC finish on the case while the other features a grey dial and an ADLC finish on the bezel. They are equipped with an in-house automatic calibre: the 1847 MC featuring magnetic resistance and water resistance up to 10 bar.

As part of the Santos de Cartier Jewellery series, the Maison introduces a new reference featuring a diamond set bezel, on the MM size. The Santos de Cartier Paved Bezel comes also with the Calibre 1847 MC, along with two strap options: a metal bracelet, and a calfskin strap, both with the QuickSwitch and SmartLink patented systems for interchangeability and adjustment.

Along size the Santos de Cartier Paved Bezel, Cartier also presents the Santos-Dumont Jewellery watch. Understated, pared-down and fitted to an alligator leather strap, the new Santos-Dumont Jewelllery watch remains true to the elegance of the original 1904 model. Cased in pink gold, it features a beaded winding crown set with a diamond. The watch will be available in two sizes: SM and LM, and is equipped with a quartz movement.

All in all, these are two contrasting sides of the Santos de Cartier. The ADLC finished versions further depart classical territory and is one of the more modern interpretations of the watch we’ve seen in recent years. While it is not something for the traditionalists amongst us, it will please those with contemporary preferences. Meanwhile, the Santos de Cartier Jewellery watches remain faithful in design and are fairly elegant, especially the Santos Dumont Jewellery.

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