The origin of creation
“When we conceive the new pieces at Cartier, it’s always exciting but we also feel a great deal of responsibility to be at the origin of creation," says Cartier’s long-serving image, style and heritage director Pierre Rainero. His 13 years of oversight on contemporary Cartier designs and the maison’s heritage department has bestowed him with a view of both past and present. “More importantly, our responsibility for the work we do today is part of a long tradition … built by the generations before and meant for the generations to come."
Happily, this idea of shared responsibility is commonplace for Cartier. “We experience this emotion in our day-to-day working life; it is an adventure which involves the most beautiful ideas and the most demanding artisans." This year, that adventure has yielded a fantastical parade of five bejewelled timepieces that merge fine watchmaking with high jewellery.
The first is a hypnotic white gold Tourbillon Mysterieux Azure pendant watch. At the end of its pendant structure hangs a 25.93-carat oval-shaped Ceylon sapphire. Taking centre stage within a fiesta of sapphires, diamonds and onyx on the pendant is the mysterious double tourbillon – dancing with balletic precision, governed by the 9463MC manual-wound calibre.
Another unique piece from the line-up is the enchanting Dragon Mysterieux watch. A 23.77-carat cushion-shaped fire opal is the piece de resistance of an almost contemplative-looking dragon. Its mystery hour and minute display features emerald eyes and diamond-set scales and is accented by coral. The entirety of this oriental-inspired piece required over 1,100 hours of work.
On the dial of the Panthere Mysterieuse pendant watch, it is the panther that comes to the fore. This creature, so beloved by the maison, is realised as a silhouette of gentle curves through a multitude of diamonds and emerald eyes. The dial’s border is framed by diamond and obsidian cylinders, while the calibre 9981 MC drives the mystery hour and minute display.
White gold, diamonds and black jade combine to create the Rings of Saturn motif timepiece. Using the legendary calibre 101 – the smallest manual-winding mechanical movement in the world – Cartier’s artisans evoke time-telling with yin-yang panache. Brilliant- and rose-cut diamonds are paved to recall patterns of shagreen on one ring, while the smooth, flawless black jade offers the requisite contrast on the other.
Rounding up this quintet of thoughtfully executed timepieces is the Cartier a l’infini. The same calibre 101 is installed as the beating heart of the timepiece. An almost Fibonacci-like cadence is applied on the alternation of diamonds and black lacquer creating a resplendent bracelet, precise to the nearest millimetre. “We are in the state of permanent evolution," Rainero observes. “Our heritage to continuously invent leads to what Louis Cartier described in the 1930s as idees mere (French for ‘mother ideas’)," he says. “And from such ideas – such as the mystery clocks – we are able to open countless other doors to design and watchmaking innovation for decades and centuries to come."