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Cirque Animalier de Cartier

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According to Hélène Poulit-Duquesne, Cartier International’s watch marketing director, the original idea for the Cirque Animalier de Cartier (800.227.8437, www.cartier.com) emerged from an exercise in creative free-sketching by the company’s designers. The collection of jeweled animal watches echoes beautifully Cartier’s historic specialty in modeled animals. “Everyone seized on the concept immediately,” says Poulit-Duquesne. “We turned over the initial sketches to one of our designers who specializes in animals, because Cartier animals have to be just so.” The watches, which list at $156,600 apiece, owe their remarkable expressiveness as much to the company’s jewelers as to its designers. Working with exacting specificity, these artisans enhanced each watch’s curves with perfectly sized stones in a pavé setting. The initial collection, introduced in 2008, offered three watches, each depicting a different Asian animal (the panda, the tiger, or the elephant). This year, Cartier will add three North American animals to the collection: the raccoon, the alligator, and the eagle.