Of the many historic watchmakers out there, none is quite like Cartier. For one thing, its minimalist-meets-luxury design language has changed very little since the early 1900s. For another, it’s less focused on showy feats of high-tech watchmaking than creating beautiful objects to be enjoyed for decades. This year’s releases from the revered Maison, revealed earlier this month at Watches & Wonders in Geneva, play to both of these characteristics. Here are the ones that stood out.
A pair of “Must-have” Tanks
In the late 1970s, Cartier released the original Must collection of watches produced in gold-plated sterling silver (a process called vermeil). The Must is back for 2021 as a collection of Tank models with a range of colourful straps and dials. Unlike sideburns and polyester leisure suits, these two period-inspired Tank Louis Cartier models are definitely ready for a comeback. $17,100 (Available Sept 2021; price subject to change.)
A sportier Pasha
Last year saw the revival of the Pasha (a popular 1980s model with its roots in a custom piece made for the Pasha of Marrakesh). This year adds a pair of chronograph models to the lineup in steel and pink gold. No one would mistake this for a watch used to time speedway laps, but that’s never been Cartier’s style. $14,600
A fresh Ballon Bleu
Not everyone can vibe with a rectangular or square watch, so the Ballon Bleu’s round (but still very Cartier) case offers something fresh but familiar. Already available in 36mm and 42mm sizes, this year sees a 40mm case added to the stable, powered by an in-house 1847 MC automatic movement. It’s available in steel and yellow gold, but the pink gold version with the grey dial is where it’s at. $19,200 (Available Dec 2021; price subject to change.)
A solar-powered Tank
It’s ironic (and characteristic) that Cartier’s most significant update to the Tank this year is also its least obvious. While this may look very much like the outgoing quartz-powered Tank Solo, this new Tank Must contains the brand’s first-ever solar-powered movement. The new SolarBeat movement is powered by a photovoltaic cell hidden beneath the dial, and its battery is promised to last for up to 16 years. It also boasts a strap composed of around 40% plant matter produced using agricultural food waste. $3,450 (Available Sept 2021; price subject to change.)
Three Skeleton Tourbillons
Just because Cartier rarely puts its movements on display doesn’t mean they aren’t some of the best around. This trio of stunning new skeletonized tourbillons serves as a reminder of that fact. The Rotonde de Cartier Astromystérieux, Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon, and Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Double Tourbillon are available in a highly limited-edition of five pieces each, and priced to match. Price on request.
The Cloche de Cartier returns
A unique bell-shaped case gives this 1920s design its name. Re-launched in extremely limited numbers as part of Cartier’s exclusive Privé collection, it is one of many unusual designs waiting in their archives to be rediscovered. Price on request.