A Delicate Balance: Cartier Showcases Its Expertise in Intricate Watchmaking with Its Array of New Models
By The Time Place Magazine
When it comes to timekeeping, Cartier is renowned as the brand which created the first modern wristwatch in 1904. Since then, the esteemed watch manufacturer has developed a rich legacy in creating sturdy, reliable, and utterly elegant timepieces. Case in point are the brand’s bevy of new skeleton watches.
Intricate. Structural. Beautiful. These are just some of the words that can be used to describe Cartier’s novel offerings, which include the Santos-Dumont Skeleton, Pasha de Cartier Skeleton, Santos de Cartier Skeleton, and the Grande Complication Skeleton Pocket watch. Apart from being aesthetically pleasing, the new models highlight their movements, and instead of just providing a glimpse of their inner workings through a transparent case back, they showcase the mechanisms powering them on the dial side.
Starting off the year with a bang, Cartier bares it all with its latest collection of openworked watches. Continuing a legacy established in 2009 with the creation of the Santos 100 Skeleton Watch—powered by the brand’s first skeleton movement, 9611 MC calibre—the distinguished manufacture now presents skeleton versions of some of its most iconic models.
First up is the Santos-Dumont Skeleton Watch. Staying loyal to its aviation roots, every structural detail of the variant pays tribute to the aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, who paved the way for the creation of his namesake wristwatch in 1904. An accomplished pilot who designed more than 22 flying machines, accumulating patents for his numerous inventions and putting his life on the line in every one of his experimental flights, Santos-Dumont revolutionised flight and rightly deserves the honour of being a Cartier icon and the inspiration for the skeleton timepiece that bears his name.
For the Santos-Dumont Skeleton, the Maison does away with the dial and allows the movement to take centre stage. Seemingly suspended in mid-air, the new and especially created 9629 MC automatic skeleton calibre was developed over the course of two years by the Cartier Manufacture at La Chaux-de-Fonds. Comprised of 212 pieces, the micro-rotor mechanism includes a miniaturised functional oscillating weight in the shape of the Demoiselle, one of the aircrafts designed by the pilot in 1907. Ensconced within a sculptural frame of either gold or steel, the movement provides a 44-hour power reserve.
A true work of creativity and innovation, the timepiece retains the slim, understated shape of the original Santos-Dumont, as well as other signature elements including visible screws as well as a beaded crown and blue cabochon. A trio of models provides watch enthusiasts and collectors with options to choose from. The first is a 150-piece limited edition in yellow gold with navy lacquer. All the details, including the bezel, case, and skeleton bridges, are lacquered by hand. The second is in steel, with polished blued-steel apple-shaped hands, sapphire case back and crystal, with bridges covered in blue lacquer, while the third version in rose gold has similar polished blued-steel apple-shaped hands, sapphire case back and crystal like the second model, however, its bridges are covered in burgundy lacquer. Coloured straps complete the watches: blue and dark blue alligator skin for the yellow gold variant, blue and grey alligator skin for the steel version, and burgundy and brown alligator strap for the rose gold iteration.
Following the Santos-Dumont Skeleton is the Pasha de Cartier Skeleton. Within the model’s 41 mm make-up are two trademark shapes which are duly emphasised: a square beautifully set into a circle. In this case, the square features a filigree rail track, while the circle is represented by the round case. Also recognised for its oversized Arabic numerals, Cartier adapted its signature movement to perfectly blend with these iconic elements. Rendered in elegant rose gold, the 9624 MC skeleton movement in grey lacquer consists of 172 parts including 28 rubies, and provides the watch with a 48-hour power reserve. The timepiece also comes with two alligator skin straps—black and dark grey— and both are equipped with the “QuickSwitch” interchangeable system for convenient strap replacement.
Next in Cartier’s new offerings is the 100-piece limited edition Santos de Cartier Skeleton Watch. Combining the double expertise of stunning jewellery and quality watchmaking, the brand enhances this openworked model with the dazzling allure of baguette-cut diamonds. An array of 126 sparkling gems adorn the rhodium-finished white gold case, making up a total of 5.88 carats. An exercise in graphic style, each detail contributes to highlighting the original square shape of the case. Within the case are skeleton Roman numerals, with polished blued-steel sword-shaped hands that point to them to convey the time. Meanwhile, a winding crown, set with a 0.22-carat brilliant-cut diamond, adds further sophistication to the model. Driving the timepiece is the 9611 MC skeleton movement with manual winding, which is equipped with a 72-hour power reserve.
Last in the line-up of watches is the Grande Complication Skeleton Pocket Watch. A wonderful feat of exquisite watchmaking, this modern pocket watch features three of the most prestigious complications in haute horology—minute repeater, flying tourbillon and perpetual calendar—all within the 9506 MC automatic calibre. With a thickness of 6.77 mm and a diameter of 35 mm, the movement stands out for its fineness and elegance. Thanks to the elegant skeletonised style of the timepiece, the mechanism is bared for all to see. One can also fully appreciate the perpetual calendar’s counters, time, date, minutes, the flying tourbillon, and the minute repeater’s gongs and hammers.
Cartier has a long and rich history in manufacturing pocket watches, where the first pocket watches in the Maison’s archives date back to 1853. However, compared to historical pocket watches, this new instalment from Cartier is presented inside a special frame, cut from rock crystal with black obsidian and white gold. This exquisite casing allows the timepiece to have a dual purpose; it becomes a small clock when hung from a suspension ring designed for this very purpose. To enhance its aesthetic appeal, Cartier’s goldsmith and enameller worked in harmony to surround the case with a frieze of gold gadroons and surround the circumference with black enamel. Exceptional and highly reflective of the brand’s prowess in beautiful watchmaking, the Grande Complication Skeleton Pocket Watch was completed over the span of seven weeks, from assembly to casing. A more precious rendition, complete with almost 28 carats of diamonds in the case, crown and dial, is also available for those with a penchant for collecting valuable pieces of impeccable craftsmanship.
The Iconic Santos
Apart from skeleton watches, Cartier also further develops its inimitable Santos family. This year, the master watchmaker presents updated models of the Santos-Dumont and the Santos de Cartier.
Still bearing its clean and elegant design, complemented by astute technical innovation, the Santos-Dumont is unveiled in five new versions that feature a more refined appearance thanks to the addition of hard stones. Three timepieces in platinum, rose gold and yellow gold boast elevated dials with Roman numerals cut directly in jasper, jade and dumortierite: three colours that match the cabochon on the winding crown of the watch. Two other variants in grey or deep navy blue are rendered in yellow gold or yellow gold and steel with guilloché dials that showcase contrasting gold hands and Roman numerals.
Meanwhile, the Santos de Cartier is now presented in navy blue and deep green, two colours that truly showcase the classic appeal of the timepiece. Available in two sizes—large and medium—all the models are equipped with an 1847 MC automatic movement and two interchangeable straps in steel and alligator, which can be easily swapped thanks to Cartier’s patent-pending “QuickSwitch” system.
From one icon to another, Cartier provides us with a treasure trove of watches, each one more precious than the next. Armed with its undeniable expertise in quality watch creation, the celebrated Maison just keeps getting better at making beautiful—and enduring—keepers of time.
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