A true magician can show you nearly all of its trick, and you still have no idea how it works. The same can be said for the Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Hour Skeleton Watch. It makes this Cartier even more transparent than ever before, but you will be hard pressed to find out how it works exactly, even when you are up close and personal with it.
The fun with the original Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Hour was in part that you had no idea how it worked. Two hands that seemed to float into the air gave the correct time, and while many knew that they were connected to sapphire discs and that those discs were connected to the movement, the actual way that this was achieved remained a mystery. The skeleton version ups the fun, as you can now see the whole movement tucked away under their bridges at the side of the asymmetrical movement. While you can identify the regulating organs and most of the gear train, how they are actually connected to the sapphire discs that hold the hands still remains a mystery, hidden under the skeletonized bridges. Quite honestly that only increases the fun, rather than taking away from it.
The Rotonde seems to be the perfect case to house this complication. Among Cartier’s collection, it is the most neutral case, as being round and fairly straight forward in design for a brand that made its name mainly with square, rectangle and even crashed cases. This puts all eyes on the complication, although it can never be mistaken for anything else but a Cartier, as the skeletonized Roman numerals ensure that. This way of creating a skeleton watch has become somewhat of a Cartier hallmark, as well as a collector’s favorite. Visually it is very pleasing, and it gives the watch a more modern look than most skeleton watches while it continues to have a strong relation to the original DNA of Cartier.
That the Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Hour Skeleton is meant, like most of La Maison’s watches, for everyday wear is evident from its proportions. The diameter of the Rotonde case is 42mm, which offers a nice canvas for the complication to be shown off, while comfortably enough to wear on a daily basis. The movement itself is rather light, but the Palladium out of which the case is made adds some nice weight to the watch. Cartier kept the thickness of the watch down to 11.9mm, so it can even fit under the cuff of a shirt.
While mystery watches where a modest trend in the 1950’s, today they have been almost completely forgotten, yet the attraction of them is timeless. The fact that Cartier can go so far as to make a skeleton version of a mystery watch without showing how the act really works might spark a renaissance for this type of watches.