2011 might be the "Astro" year for Cartier. Last year's Cartier Rotonde Astrotourbillon was such a hit that 2011 will have at least two new "Astro" watches. One will be the Calibre Astrotourbillon (with the Rotonde's existing movement), while this one is something totally different. The "Astroregulateur" (Astroregulator) has an escapement that is connected to the automatic rotor - that is mounted on the front of the dial.
This concept is really confusing if you don't see it in action. Thankfully, there is a short video by SJX of the Purists on YouTube that we can check out that confirms what I assumed about how the movement worked. All of this is part of Cartier not letting down the fight in terms of showing the world how much they have to offer the watch nerd - as well as the style lover.
The Astroregulator has an escapement and subsidiary seconds dial that spins freely with the rotor. The seconds hand still goes around the dial each minute, but the dial itself is spins around. According to Cartier, this system is supposed to work a lot like a tourbillon in theory (which itself works more or less only in theory. The escapement is adjusted in a vertical position. With the system, gravity keeps it pointed "up" while the watch is in a vertical position. When the watch is horizontally aligned, none of this matters.
Zenith's Christophe Colomb watch works on this same principle - but with the watch in any orientation. The Cartier is likely to be a bit more wearable though, though the two watches aren't exactly trying to compete with one another (as far as I know). The movement inside the watch is the Manufacture Cartier MC 9800. Great that it is an automatic (duh, given the rotor on the front), and has the time dial off-centered to the upper part of the dial. The movement has a power reserve of 80 hours. The back of the Astroregulator is nice with a double Cartier "C" motif.
I am still loving Cartier's signature look for their in-house made movement watches. They use engraved dials with applied black color to make them pop nicely. No doubt the Astroregulator isn't a breeze to read, but a collector's piece like this isn't supposed to be Mr. legible. Really looking forward to seeing this think in action!
What fascinates me is how these highly technically looking watches as transforming Cartier's style. There is a lot of Cartier DNA in these very high-end manufacture movement pieces, but the designs are getting more futuristic and complex - Cartiers of the future!
The watch is large in a 50mm wide case! That is rather big for a Cartier. It has a niobium-titanium case. Not sure what that allow is all about, but I will find out soon. The watch crown is either in titanium or in 18k white gold with a sapphire crystal cabochon. Cartier is limiting the production of the Astroregulator to just 50 pieces. Not sure about price right now. Strap is black alligator (because I know you cared).