When you say Cartier, you also say cats, big cats to be precise, as they have been for decades a rich source of inspiration for the brand. A big influence in this was Jeanne Toussaint (1887 – 1978) who became the brand’s director of jewelry design in 1933. The story goes that she was on safari in Africa with Louis Cartier when they encountered a panther. She immediately envisioned a piece of jewelry, as she apparently exclaimed: ‘Diamonds, onyx, emeralds; a brooch!.’ When back in Paris, she immediately went to work, and a legend was born!
Big cats still inspire Cartier up until today. Not only in name, such as is the case with the Panthere, but also for the decoration of their watches. They combine design and craftsmanship to create unprecedented watches often utilizing unique decoration technique. The Drive de Cartier pictured above, for example, features an enamel leopard which covers not only the dial but also part of the case. It is crafted with such care, that even the individual hairs can be distinguished in the fur the animal.
In pursuing highlighting the beauty of big cats, Cartier also used granulation. This is a decoration technique which is almost never used when it comes to watches. They attached small beads of different sizes to the dial, giving an exceptional three-dimensional effect to the cat that dominates this Ballon Bleu de Cartier, highlighted by a bezel set with brilliant cut, colorless, diamonds.
For the Ronde Louis Cartier Filigree Panthers Motif watch, uses Cartier 22k gold and 950 platinum to create two panthers. The filigree work gives the animals an unmatched elegance, and Cartier also uses diamonds to further adorn their fur, while the eyes are made out of emeralds. This watch not only showcases Cartier’s abilities in the field of Métiers D’Art, but also pays tribute to both the expertise needed to create it, as well as the beautiful animals that these panthers are.
Diamonds are of course another indispensable part of Cartier’s heritage. While a pave set case should be enough to become the center of attention, it are the two cats that fight for a ring at the center of the dial that make this watch a true eye-catcher. The move around on the movement of the wrist, but neither one will ever win. It shows Cartier’s creativity, by adding a playful element to what is a very high-end watch, something that their collection of watches featuring big cats has always been about.