Cartier, the brand with all the buzz this year, made a virtuoso display of watchmaking prowess at the 2013 SIHH. The brand introduced no less than 110 new models, including 40 high jewelry pieces, eight models in its Metiers d’art collection and five (five!) new in-house movements. The most important of these is the 1904-CH MC, the brand’s first in-house chronograph caliber. The self-winding column-wheel chronograph movement was presented in eight references in the Calibre de Cartier collection. Powered by two barrels, the movement is fitted with a vertical coupling that allows the traditional jumps of the seconds hand to be eliminated during the start and stop phases. Design highlights include the outsized Roman numeral (a Cartier signature) at XII, and elegantly placed pushers that are integrated into the crown reinforcement.
In a deft combo of innovation and heritage, Cartier also introduced two new movements in its Mysterieuses collection, including the Mystery 9981 MC, and the Double Tourbillon caliber 9454 MC. Cartier is famous for its mystery watches, the hands of which seem to tell time by floating in space, thanks to a system of rotating sapphire disks. The Rotonde de Cartier Double Tourbillon can only be described as magical. Hands that appear to be floating in space are amazing enough, but a suspended flying tourbillon that seems totally unconnected to any gear train is a wonder of watchmaking! It turns on its axis every 60 seconds, then makes a second rotation at a rate of once every five minutes.
The Jumping Second Time Zone (caliber 9456 MC) is another marvel of watchmaking. Essentially it is a double jump hour, with a central minutes hand flanked by a home time dial and a local time dial that jump to indicate the hours.
Wait, there’s more! The caliber 9423 MC is the brand’s first in-house perpetual calendar, presented in the Rotonde Perpetual Calendar Chronograph (with a module) – thus measuring both long and short periods of time in one mechanism. The elegant dial is remarkably uncluttered, considering the amount of information it has to convey.
And finally, a noteworthy creation in the Metiers d’Art collection: the Rotonde de Cartier Granulation Etrusque. Granulation is an ancient goldsmithing art that involves position tiny granules of gold on a dial plate to form a composition in relief, and then firing them to fuse them to the gold plate. In this case, the composition is Cartier’s signature motif – the panther. It took 360 hours (four months) to create this dial, using 3,800 balls of 22k gold. Only one person at Cartier has the expertise – and that person will make 20 of these watches in total- which means a very busy six years ahead!