The big news from Cartier for 2010 is the Calibre collection of watches. While they did release a few impressive highly complex watches (not to mention a tourbillon version of the Calibre watch), those aren’t going to be volume models. The Calibre will be a much more affordable timepiece with a fresh and modern look along with the Cartier name. As a thick layer of icing on the cake, the Calibre is named as such for having a Cartier in-house made movement. That’s right. The jewelry brand can finally satisfy the connoisseur’s need for exclusive in-house movements and the brand’s famous style. The movement is the 1904 MC, named for the year that Cartier made a watch for Alberto Santos Dumont, being Cartier’s first wrist watch. The movement is an automatic with two mainspring barrels, 48 hours of power reserve, and a hack seconds complication. It further features ceramic ball bearings for the automatic rotor which winds the watch when spinning in both directions Also, it looks like the movement will be able to be a base for more complex movements in the future that will be in the “affordable” range.

The Calibre watch name is a bit silly to most hardcore watch lovers, but is playfully simple meaning only “watch movement reference” really. Most of Cartier’s client’s however would not refer to a watch movement as a “calibre,” so that is OK. At least Cartier stuck with the simple and classy names that most of its watches have. The style of the Calibre watch takes some getting used to. It is not one of those instant “must haves,” but then again, none of its watches are. They are more handsome watches that take time to appreciate until putting one in your collection seems to make sense. I have a feeling if they released the Santos watch tomorrow many people would find it boring. Yet after it being around for so long we all consider it a classic. My prediction is that it will be a few years of Cartier Calibre promotion before the love sets in. Having said that I actually quite like the look a lot. I think that Cartier made a few ephemeral design choices but overall they did a nice job.

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The watch is a decent size at 42mm wide and available in steel, 18k rose gold, or two-tone with a gold bezel and steel case. The case feels large for its size which is good. A very distinguishing features is the chunky crown guard. It has Cartier exposed screws on it (which you see in many of their masculine products). Most surfaces are brushed with some nice edges being polished. That adds a nice high-end touch to it. Although the components of the case look simple, it is very refined in style. The lugs are broad and curved, making for a very comfortable fit. You see a very iconic Cartier hexagon crown with a more geometric cut sapphire crystal cabochon applied to it. Often Cartier cabochons are perfectly rounded. You can see the handsome proportions in the images of the Calibre watch on my wrist.

Always a point of interest for me in Cartier watches is the dial. I find the Calibre to be a curious, but satisfying creation. It comes in three colors, black, silver, and brown (that looks really nice with the gold). Let me start with what I don’t like. The date window. It is way to “right now.” This is part of what I was referring to when I said the watch had an ephemeral style to it. Or maybe I just don’t like these unnecessarily large date windows. Cartier makes it work however as the crescent shape of the date window is visually continued with the large crown guard. On the other side it seems to come to a point at the center of the dial. This is one of the first Cartier watches that I know of that does not have blued steel hands. Instead they have lume and watch the colors of the dial. I sort of miss the blued steel now.

The chapter ring of the watch inside the dial is toothed a bit, just like some classic Panerai watches, and interesting design touch. All part of the masculination of the watch. The top half of the dial has Roman numerals with a big “12.” Then, in order to make it not look so cluttered, Cartier replaces the lower half of the dial with hour markers in order to visually accommodate the large subsidiary seconds dial. In addition to the hour and minute hands having lume, there are four points of lume around the dial. The outer ring on the face has some concentric circle texturing with a few levels of elevation that are viewable preventing the dial from looking flat. The minute index scale around the dial adds to the legibility. The look of the dial as a whole is sufficiently Cartier, while being more aggressive than their “dandy” reputation would suggest, and of course a unique addition to their men’s collection.

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People who are tired of the same old Cartier styles will appreciate the new look that is easy to see yourself wearing, and the Calibre watch collection really promotes Cartier as a serious watch maker having a new and exclusive in-house made movement. Expect more of this in the future in mainstream Cartier watches such as this as opposed to only in their $100,000 plus spectacular and complex creations. As such, the Calibre collection with its 1904 MC automatic movement will start at $6,500 in steel and go up from there.

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