One of the most exciting things about each SIHH watch show is visiting Cartier and seeing their new limited edition art pieces that often revolve around animals. Last year in 2012 we shared a little round-up of some of the coolest Cartier "high" art watches. For 2013 Cartier offered novel "metiers d'art" limited edition watches, and we will share some of the best ones with you... starting with the Rotonde de Cartier Flying Tourbillon Crocodile Motif timepiece.
Using the natural stone agate, Cartier has a dial with a crocodile carved in relief. They also throw in a little tourbillon action for good measure. Agate is a common but beautiful stone that I believe is similar to amethyst. It is found primarily in volcanic rocks as I understand it. Agate is often blue and further tends to have various shades of blue that lighten toward the center. By selecting the right piece of an agate rock to carve, a skilled artist can make use of the color changes to their advantage. Sure enough, in this Cartier watch you can see how a section of agate is used to highlight the crocodile head in a lighter shade of blue, but the lower sections are a darker blue. It makes for a beautiful effect.
While agate rock may not be that uncommon, watches with hand-carved agate dials are. It is one of those interesting artistic skills that brands like Cartier like to make use of from time to time when impressing a very limited audience. As such, the Rotonde de Cartier Flying Tourbillon Crocodile Motif watch will be in the hands (I mean on the wrist) of no more than 30 people total. I do wonder if it is the same group of people eagerly awaiting the new Cartier art pieces each year, or if Cartier is able to expand the market for these interesting niche luxury pieces.
In fact those who aren't as familiar with the Cartier of today should know that the brand is one of the leaders in offering both very classic mainstream entry-level luxury timepieces as well as fantastic ultra high-end creations that either focus on art or haute horology to impress even the most dedicate of watch aficionados. Yes, I said a lot in that sentence but it is important to express the level of product diversification that Cartier has undertaken to offer to the luxury market. Most people wearing a Cartier Santos, Tank, or Pasha will most likely never know that Cartier pieces of this caliber even exist.