You see it, but at the same time, you don’t see anything at all. That is the Clé de Cartier Mysterious Hour Watch. You see the hands, you see the movement, but not how they are connected. With the Mysterious Hour complication, Cartier brought back the mystery watch, with a vengeance.
Cartier offers their mysterious hour complication of course in the Rotonde case, but shows off its more contemporary side in the Clé de Cartier. The Clé de Cartier is by itself already interesting as it was a completely different collection when it was introduced. Most of Cartier’s watches have a historical connection, being created during the time when the Cartier-brothers where in charge of La Maison. That makes creating a whole new collection always challenging as it does need to take this DNA and extend it in a natural way into some new. With the Clé de Cartier they most certainly succeeded in this, creating a distinct case shape, fitted with a unique crown.
Clé means key in French, and with the time-only version of this watch, the dial also shows the outline of a key hole. For the Mysterious Hour Watch, this was abandoned in favor of the decentral dial. The right side of the watch shows a silvered, skeletonized grid with the brand’s famed Roman numerals, showing underneath a glimpse of the movement that powers it.
When you flip the watch over you see that Cartier doesn’t hide much when it comes to the movement, yet it remains a mystery how exactly the sapphire disc on which the hands are mounted, rotate. Caliber Cartier 9981 MC needs only 158 parts to create this mystery, of which 27 are jewels.
The case of the Clé de Cartier Mysterious Hour Watch is 41mm in diameter and sits perfectly on the wrist. This is in part because the lugs are integrated into the case, but also because the watch is still quite thin, with a height of only 11.25mm.
The Clé de Cartier Mysterious Hour Watch is available in several varieties, including one featuring a pave setting of colorless diamonds. Although very precious, we prefer the Palladium version for several reasons: it seems to suit the complication the best, as it complements the dial and not overtakes it, and at the same time it is a very precious and still rare metal to be used in watches.