Cartier’s Expanding Universe of Elegance
Exciting times at Cartier these days. The French jeweller has always been known for new riffs on classics like the Santos and Tank as well as its playful approach to watch design, and this year’s offerings at Watches & Wonders show the maison to be in top form, both in terms of quality and quantity. Here are the best Cartier watches that stand in the ever-growing universe of elegant watches.
Cartier Tank Normale
This addition to Cartier Privé, the brand’s ultra-exclusive family of watches, hearkens back to the very first Tanks produced in 1917. As such, it distinguishes itself from modern variants with its smaller proportions and square (as opposed to rectangular) case. The new Tank Normale is available in yellow gold or platinum, on either a black or brown leather strap or a bracelet in yellow gold or platinum. As with every piece in the Cartier Privé collection, these are a limited edition, with just 100 bracelet versions and 200 strap versions produced. Even more exclusive are the variations with a skeleton dial (50 pieces) and a diamond-studded skeleton dial (20 pieces). There’s plenty to love about all of them, but the pick of the bunch has to be the Tank Normale in platinum, which combines a subtly brushed exterior with a red ruby cabochon on the winding crown.
Cartier Tank Americaine
The latest addition to the growing family of regular production tanks is this revival of the Tank Americaine, a larger and more elongated Tank first introduced in 1988. Cartier will offer 11 new models in a choice of stainless steel and rose gold, and three sizes (mini, small, and large), with the large version powered by a new automatic movement, the calibre 1899 MC. We were not exactly starved for choice in the Tank department previously, but there seems to be a limitless appetite for this century-old design, and the re-launched Americaine brings a distinct look and size to the table.
Cartier’s famous pilot’s watch, which was designed for pioneering aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont in 1904, gets a major makeover this year with a trio of skeletonized models in yellow gold, rose gold, and steel. What’s familiar here is the square case shape with visible screws around the bezel, but pretty much everything else is reinvented, from the artful dial to the new micro-rotor calibre 9629 MC movement. In case anyone needed reminding that Cartier is a technical watchmaker on par with the world’s best, the new movement is reportedly the product of two years of R&D at their manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds and looks every bit as impressive as it sounds. Of particular note is the miniaturized functional oscillating weight in the shape of the Demoiselle, an experimental aircraft designed by Santos-Dumont in 1907. Positioned between seven and eight o’clock on the dial, the plane seems to soar over a tiny engraved globe, adding a touch of historical whimsy to the package. The standout version is the yellow gold limited edition, whose bezel, case, and skeleton bridges have been accented in hand-applied blue lacquer.