When it comes to watches, Cartier may be best known for its legendary Tank, but the heritage house isn’t resting on its laurels.
Launched on the brand’s Watchmaking Encounters digital platform––part of Watches & Wonders’ 2020 edition––Cartier introduced three new extraordinarily complex timepieces that push technical boundaries.
The watches in question––the Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Hour Skeleton, Rotonde de Cartier Grand Complication Skeleton Watch and Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon––are all skeletonized models that emphasize the firm’s commitment to the occasional avant-garde flourish sprinkled among its more traditional fare.
Comparatively simple within the context of the larger collection, the Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Hour Skeleton is somewhat petite with an 18K pink gold case measuring just 42mm in diameter. Its design (water-resistant to 30 meters) takes intelligent advantage of negative space via its open dial configuration where the hour markers are spliced out of the dial itself. It riffs on Cartier’s Mystery Clock technology and creates a miniaturized version that appears to float left of center. The in-house, hand-wound 9983 MC movement does not move the hands directly but rather manipulates sapphire disks with concealed teeth.
Possibly the least ornate, the Rotonde de Cartier Grand Complication Skeleton Watch is nonetheless intricate. Likewise forged with an 18K pink gold case, this model measures 45mm and is water-resistant to 30 meters. Designed with its inner workings exposed from the front (as opposed to being viewed through a clear case back), it runs on an in-house 9406 MC movement at 21,600 vph in 47 jewels. Its face comes complete with a minute repeater, perpetual calendar and flying tourbillon.
Lastly, the Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon also borrows from Cartier’s famous Mystery Clock, with elements that seem to float in space. This style is powered by an in-house 9407 MC movement with 21,600 vph in 45 jewels. Made from 18K pink gold and measuring 45mm, its tourbillon bucks convention by placing its fixed wheel at the center of the mystery disk with the tourbillon (on a second wheel) rotating around it. It also flips the normal placement of the minute repeater on its head; the dial, hammers and gongs are all placed on the dial side for maximum viewing.
Cartier’s Fine Watchmaking Collection made its debut in 2008. Though it’s taken over a decade for the brand’s more unusual pieces to find an audience, its newest launches seem to prove that a dedicated, adventurous customer is buying in––if only given the time.