The panther has become so synonymous with Cartier that any jewelry iterations of the majestic animal outside of the Parisian house appear mere copies. Starting in the 1920s, the maison’s famed director of jewelry and former lover of Louis Cartier, Jeanne Toussaint, made the slinky feline a perennial inspiration. Cartier affectionately called Toussaint “PanPan,” and her Paris apartment was said to be strewn with the animal’s skins. But the Duchess of Windsor is credited with making the spotted creature a fashion symbol when, in 1949, she was photographed wearing one of the first 3-D Panthère creations: a brooch set atop a 152.35-carat Kashmir sapphire given to her by her husband, the former Edward VIII. In 2010, a bracelet version of the feline figure worn by the socialite sold at Sotheby’s London for $7.23 million.
A century later, the elegant cat is still making Cartier’s clients purr. The brand’s latest homage to its icon comes encapsulated in a 42 mm white-gold Ronde Louis Cartier timepiece, limited to 30, each individually numbered. Slices of straw marquetry, gold and enamel, handcrafted by artisans at the company’s specialized Métiers d’Art atelier in Switzerland, come together in a colorful tableau to form the visage of one of the world’s most beautiful beasts.