Haute Timepieces: Cartier Skeleton Flying Tourbillon Watch

Decades of success with its watches has inspired Cartier to finally open up a new door in its proverbial “house of horology,” with highly complex watches made in house. This almost flies straight in the face of what fashion-forward brands like Cartier are expected to have, which are nice looking, but mechanically simple watches. Without abandoning its current popular watch collections, Cartier has been slowly adding a number of highly complex watches (mostly in very limited editions) to its product line. As a thematic compliment to its high-end haute jewelry watches for women, Cartier’s mens line is brimming with complex watches beautiful on the inside and out.

In addition, a number of current Cartier mens watch lines (such as the Santos and Rotonde) are being supplemented with top-end complication models. Flagships in each of its respective collections, these collector’s watches are unique because they take a familiar beauty that Cartier is known for and give them clever mechanical twists. Take this provocative Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Flying Tourbillon watch. In the newer Rotonde-style case, Cartier has developed a thin movement suspended in the middle, as its edges are cut-out to create the distinctive Cartier Roman numeral hour markers, which are actually all part of the movement plate. The gears and working components of the movement are artfully amassed close together along with a flying tourbillion escapement. It would not be a true Cartier if not for the iconic “C”-shaped bridge over the tourbillion as part 9455 MC caliber movement. The thoroughly Swiss progression even bears the illustrious Seal of Geneva, marking its origin and caliber of construction and decoration. Sandwiched between two sapphire crystals, the cut-away portions of the movement provide a view right through the watch. Nevertheless, legibility reigns as blued steel hands remain easy to read via the hour and minute indicators located on the functional chapter ring around the dial.

What further helps the watch identify as a Cartier is not just the name on the dial, but the crown. Circular and grained with a prominent sapphire crystal cabochon, the crown suggests “Cartier” more than anything on the watch itself. Its thin case is trendy, measuring 45mm wide, and is polished with 18 karat white gold and comes with a matching white gold buckle on the black alligator strap.

The Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Flying Tourbillon watch represents a newer form of design and mechanical complication from the brand, but embodies enough hallmark features to firmly attach a Cartier spirit to the timepiece. It is limited to just 100 pieces worldwide, with each piece individually numbered. In time, you’ll begin to associate Cartier with good looks as well as complex micro-engineering prowess—a mix of values the “new” Cartier would not have been able to boast just a few years ago. It costs about $130,000.

Ariel Adams is the Haute Living Watch Editor and also publishes the luxury watch review site aBlogtoRead.com.

Captions for image points:
1. Flying tourbillion with Cartier “C” bridge
2. 45mm wide case in 18k white gold
3. Sapphire crystal cabochon in crown
4. Blued steel hands
5. Movement plate skeletonized to form Roman numerals

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