June 17, 2011
by Ariel Adams
Over the last few years my interest and respect for Cartier has really grown. Sure, a lot of their timepieces are mass produced, but they have a penchant for good, lasting design. No doubt I am not a fan of all of their watches, but little escapes from their manufacture without being really good for at least some people. Good design – as I am learning more and more – is not easy. Designing something to look outstanding and really cool for 5 minutes is really not that hard. Executing a design that looks good each time you look at it, for years, isn’t so easy. In this department, Cartier has succeeded for a long time. I find myself wondering what their secret is.
Interestingly enough, watches with “good” designs don’t affect you right away. You might look at them a bit ambiguously at first. Then, after paying attention to them for a while, the quality of the design grows on you. I have never looked at a Cartier watch once and been like, “Winner!” It takes me a while to appreciate them. Sure enough, though, I have grown to really respect almost each timepiece by Cartier from a design perspective.
Now there are the new super high-end manufacture watches from Cartier. Haute Horology now gets Cartier worthy designs. While these super high-end pieces are not all keepers, there are enough outstanding ones. My favorite from last year was the Cartier Rotonde Astrotourbillon watch. The mechanism placed the escapement on a hand that functioned as the seconds hand. The dial has a special “trench” that gave space for the astrotourbillon complication.
For 2011 Cartier will use the same Astrotourbillon movement and put it in a Calibre case. The Cartier Calibre was released last year as their newest men’s watch collection. This year, I suspect the Calibre collection will see new models (such as a Chronograph) and this astrotourbillon version is one of them. This is the same Cartier MC 9451 manually wound movement as in the Rotonde version.
The watch case will be 47mm wide in titanium, water resistant to 100 meters, and with a sapphire crystal. Note the large blue sapphire cabochon in the crown. The design of the dial has been done in a very intricate manner as to sustain the look of the basic Calibre dial as well as incorporate the astrotourbillon complication. A stunning piece that, for me, is even more desirable than the original Rotonde Astrotourbillon. The Calibre Astrotourbillon will be limited to just 100 pieces and will be very expensive.