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  • Alvin

Watch wants | Why I've been researching Cartier watches.

Updated: Jul 15, 2023

You know the old saying, 'the wrist wants, what the wrist wants' - it's the truest of my truisms. But how much can a skinny wrist want, how much can it take? A lot, is the answer. My left wrist is an insatiable beast, it's already got the Tudor 4B, that is the Black Bay Burgundy Bezel, and Longines Master Collection Engraved this year, amongst others but alas, it wants more. And as you can guess by the title of this post, it lusts after a French beauty... don't we all. To be fair it makes sense, I am after all French at heart, ergo I should be French by wrist, yet I don't own any French watch brands - for shame. A tragedy, I'm sure you agree. Breguet and Cartier stand above the rest, but Bell & Ross, Pequignet stand firm as do smaller brands, Baltic and Yema. They have all been on my radar for a while. But it's only recently that Cartier have been grabbing me by the proverbials, since I tried on the new Santos at the AD when I went to get the Tudor. I feel myself getting all hautey.


Cartier Masse Mystérieuse
Cartier Masse Mystérieuse - the rotor is the movement and vice versa, also the crown is not a crown.

a sensible request that ruined all our lives, you sunnuvabitch Santos-Dumont

Yes, Cartier is renowned for producing high-quality watches, and share mysterious marvels of haute-horology on a whim, they might employ a few wizards. While the brand is primarily known for its exquisite jewelry, They have a long history of watchmaking expertise dating back to its inception in 1847. The first wristwatch designed specifically for men is attributed to Louis Cartier, the founder of Cartier. In 1904, Louis Cartier created a wristwatch for his friend, the Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. Santos-Dumont, who found it inconvenient to check the time using a pocket watch while flying, requested a timepiece that could be worn on the wrist, a sensible request that ruined all our lives, you sunnuvabitch Santos-Dumont.


Cartier designed a square-shaped watch with a leather strap, which became known as the Santos de Cartier watch. The rest is history. This pioneering design marked a shift from pocket watches to wristwatches for men and helped popularize the concept of wristwatches as a practical and fashionable accessory.


Panthère de Cartier bangle watch
Complicated Jewellery - Panthère de Cartier bangle watch - even if it is a quartz!

In the 1970s, Cartier continued to expand its watchmaking prowess. The brand acquired various Swiss watchmaking companies, including Piaget and Baume & Mercier, which allowed Cartier to combine its exquisite jewelry craftsmanship with Swiss watchmaking expertise. All these brands now fall under the Richemont group, who acquired Cartier in 1997, though there were rumours this year that LVMH were looking to buy Cartier.

Richemont, a Swiss luxury goods conglomerate, acquired Cartier in 1997. Since the acquisition, Cartier has continued to thrive, maintaining its position as one of the world's leading luxury brands.


Here are some other reasons why Cartier watches are considered the top of the top, the cream of the crop:


Design and Aesthetics: Cartier watches are known for their elegant and distinctive designs. The brand combines timeless aesthetics with innovative features, resulting in watches that are both visually appealing and functional. Cartier's iconic models, such as the Tank, Santos, and Ballon Bleu, have become symbols of luxury and style. Interestingly, the Tank (and various other smaller Cartier offerings) is most often seen powered by quartz movements, a rarity in the luxury watch world, which speaks to the strength of the design. I still wouldn't have a quartz Cartier. I would want an automatic or manual wind, for the heritage, value and craftsmanship. The Santos de Cartier and Tank watches are truly iconic pieces of design, like the Porsche 911 and Converse All-Stars, they endure all.



Craftsmanship and Materials: Cartier maintains a strong focus on craftsmanship, like I said, and uses high-quality materials in its watches. The brand employs skilled artisans and watchmakers who meticulously assemble and finish each timepiece. While some might say it as a slight, I say this as a compliment, Cartier are jewellers and their watches are jewellery of the highest order, you could call them complicated jewellery, they reflect the brand's commitment to luxury and excellence. Their finishing is exquisite, and I recently fell badly in love with the Cartier Santos Dumont W2007051 in white gold with the manual wind 430 MC (MC=Manufacure Calibre) movement, I think it's the most elegant and beautiful watch I've ever seen in a photo (below), I want one very much, but they aren't cheap, also they don't have a seconds hand - I like seconds hands. Actually in the realms of the Cartier catalogue, they aren't that expensive either, now discontinued, they are under £9,000 which isn't bad...he says.

Imgs: Jomashop.com


In-House Movements: Known for slim and elegant timepieces, so it's no surprise that they built upon Piaget movements, some of the slimmest in the known universe. The 430MC is one of those. Cartier has invested in developing its own in-house movements, including the 1904 MC and 1847 MC, mechanical hearts that connect to important dates, 1847 being the founding year and 1904 the birth of the Santos-Dumont. A number of their skeleton movements integrate the movement into the structural framework of the watch creating a seamless timepiece - design and technology as one - the 9611 MC in the WHSA0027 (below), does this perfectly. The in-house movements demonstrate the brand's prestige and dedication to watchmaking expertise and innovation. I like this watch so much.


Innovation and Technical Advancements: Cartier has introduced several technical advancements in its watchmaking history. It does things that are magical and keeps the craftsmanship, engineering and joy of watchmaking alive in pieces like the Astrotourbillon, Masse Mysterieuse, and Rotonde de Cartier Mystery. Carole Forestier-Kasapi, was Cartiers Director of Movement Development and Head of the Fine Watchmaking division, and many of these masterpieces were her created under her watch (pun intended), she left Cartier (for Tag Heuer) in 2020. The 187-piece 9451 MC Astrotourbillon calibre took five years to develop and was heralded as a breakthrough in watchmaking complexity. The intricate Astrotourbillon included a balance that, in addition to revolving on its own axis, also has a cage that rotates around the dial once each minute, doubling as a seconds hand. The dial's meticulous choreography propelled it to instant fame among watch enthusiasts, many of whom experienced sheer ecstasy in the presence of these mechanical masterpieces.


*Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Hour Skeleton 42 mm (left)

*Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon 45mm (centre)

*Astrotourbillon 45mm (right)

"Jeweler of Kings and King of Jewelers."

Heritage and Prestige: Cartier has a rich heritage and has been associated with royalty, celebrities, and influential figures throughout history. At the turn of the 20th century, Cartier gained significant popularity and success. In 1902, King Edward VII of England issued a royal warrant, granting the prestigious title of "Jeweler of Kings and King of Jewelers." This recognition further elevated the brand's reputation and attracted a wealthy and influential clientele from around the world. The brand's watches carry a sense of sophistication and luxury due to their historical significance and the clientele they have served. Owning a Cartier watch can be seen as a symbol of status and refined taste, and that you have watched Succession and seen Shiv and Tom both lo-key flexing in their Cartiers whilst being the most dysfunctional power couple in the fictional TV world.


The End

Despite the origins of the Santos-Dumont, it's worth noting that Cartier watches are primarily considered luxury designer and haute horology watches rather than specialized tool watches for specific purposes like diving or aviation. However, the brand's emphasis on design, craftsmanship, and brand reputation make Cartier watches highly regarded within the luxury watch industry. I think a Cartier is the only watch in terms of simple design that could unthrone the SARB035 from my best watch ever title.

And this will be the watch to do it, the 'Ronde Must de Cartier', WSRN0032 with the automatic winding, calibre 1847 MC. You know I like a deal, so once I find a deal, it will be mine, oh yes it will. There aren't many on the second hand market as I imagine these are keepers for those who buy them. A 'must have' (nice pun) per Cartiers website, they would say that, but I think I agree.


All photos sourced from cartier.com unless specified.


Yours Tankishly,


Alvin.



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