January 17, 2014
by Ariel Adams
It would be wrong to deny Cartier the honor of being highly innovative over the last several years in regard to its most exclusive timepiece creations. To be actually innovative and come up with something new in a mechanical watch takes serious effort and luck. It has been uttered to me on more than one occasion that what can be done in a watch has been done, and furthermore, that all a watchmaker can do today is interpret and play with previously invented concepts. So when you see something new, no matter how whimsical or playful in a luxury watch, it is a worth one’s attention.
How is the 2014 Rotonde de Cartier Earth And Moon Tourbillon watch novel? It uses the round window on the dial meant for displaying the tourbillon as also the moon for the moon phase indicator. The system is rather simple, and visible on demand only. Upon pressing the pusher at 4 o’clock a disc moves out from under the 4 o’clock indicator to pass over part of all of the tourbillon window. The shape left by the window is meant to represent the current phase of the moon. Upon reverting to its resting state the tourbillon is once again visible in its full glory.
No, this does not represent a new feature, indicator, or real complication. It is a clever assortment of features that makes this luxury watch just that much more interesting than the one before it. Suddenly we are wondering why more isn’t don’t with those round windows that have been sitting idle and open for years. It is as though all open windows on dials were meant to double as moon phase indicators and the application of such was so obvious we missed it. That is the type of cleverness employed by Cartier these days, and to be honest not at too many other places. It is also a statement on just how difficult it is to find something new these days. Nevertheless, Cartier seems to be doing so several times a year and for that I cannot help but applaud and appreciate their contributions to the horological universe.
What I think strikes a chord for me in watches such as this is that they respect the long traditional of watchmaking that preceded them but have no interest in directly drawing inspiration from the past. I typically know something of that nature is about to be claimed when I start reading a press release only to embark on a curated history lesson of a person or product from the 18th or 19th century that ends up being only tangentially related to the new product a brand claimed in its honor. Cartier doesn’t do that. Rather they start by talking about exactly what the watches do, with minimal BS, and in a clear language. In other words, they aren’t hiding mundane details with pretty words.
The Rotonde Earth And Moon watch is a visually beautiful creation that relies upon one of my favorite stones; lapis lazuli. The glimmering blue rock makes up much of the dial as a backdrop to the skeletonized 18k white gold section that makes up most of the indicators and markers. Lapis Lazuli always has a very “celestial” quality to it that always seems at home on watch dial. Especially one that is as astronomically themed as this one. The tourbillon/moon sits adjacent to an image of the earth above which is in the center of the time dial. It makes for a nice effect and visually attractive display.
In addition to the tourbillon and moon phase indicator, the watch also has a GMT display in addition to the time. The second time zone is displayed on a disc and the time is indicated at 12 o’clock. The GMT time is adjusted via a pusher at 2 o’clock on the case. Powering the watch is a Cartier mechanical manually wound movement known as the calibre 9440 MC which is reported produced in collaboration once again with neighbor Renaud & Papi. It operates at 21,600 bph (3Hz) and has a power reserve of three days. The movement bridges have a great looking architecture and it can be seen through the rear of the case.
Cartier continues to appeal to modern tastes in how it sizes its watches. The Rotonde de Cartier Earth And Moon Tourbillon will be a stately 47mm wide in a solid platinum case. There will be a blue sapphire crystal cabochon in the crown because… well because it is a Cartier. The deep blue and platinum tones should prove to look fantastic together, and the Rotonde-style case is attached to a black alligator strap.
While the Rotonde Earth And Moon Tourbillon isn’t quite a daily wear, it is a unique looking dress watch that is both formal and complex in its design. Cartier watches tend to have an elegant appeal to them but this is among the first ultra-high-end models that I would suggest may have a role as a tuxedo watch. Imaginative, pretty, and admittedly cool, the Earth And Moon Tourbillon is another in a long line of Cartier timepieces that easily deserve such attributes. Cartier will produce just 50 pieces in the limited edition set as well as another 10 pieces with baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel. Prices will be about $316,500 and $674,500 respectively. cartier.com