By experimenting with ancient skills and by combining them with new techniques, Cartier created an entire collection of extraordinary timepieces, dedicated to the artistic crafts. The new Métiers d’Art Watch Collection 2013 features five masterpieces, each showcasing an image of a different animal, beautifully executed by hand in one of highly complex and rare techniques, from plique-à-jour enamelling and grisaille enamelling to straw marquetry and techniques of granulation and cameo.
If I need to point up one fact that is particularly impressive, it would be the breathtaking effect of vivid and deep colors and contrasts which almost give a life to these wild animals that inhabit Cartier’s masterpieces. Executed by engravers, enamellers, sculptors and specialists in marquetry, each dial represents a true piece of art, from the one with the fish motif in plique-à-jour enamel and Santos watch with engraved, enamelled falcon motif to the stunning piece with the horse motif in grisaille enamel. The brand’s craftsmen used straw marquetry to create a beautiful lion motif. Finally, as the true highlight of the collection, there is a Rotonde de Cartier Tourbillon watch with the cameo crocodile motif in natural agate.
Ronde Louis Cartier XL Watch with Fish and Coral Motif in Plique-à-Jour Enamel
By implementing shimmering plique-à-jour enamel to depict corals on the sea depths in five different blues, contrasting gray and violet shades, the renowned French watchmaker created a faithful impression of water transparency, emphasized by 6 brilliant-cut diamonds. A mother-of-pearl painting with the creation of a fish in relief completes this magical spectacle, while a rhodium-coated 18 karat white gold case adorned with 61 brilliant-cut diamonds seems like a luxurious frame of a porthole that reveals watery depths. A beaded crown is also set with a brilliant-cut diamond.
The watch is available with a semi-matt white alligator skin that comes with an adjustable double folding buckle in rhodium-coated white gold set with 43 brilliant-cut diamonds. Inside the case, there is a Calibre 430 MC hand-winding mechanism. This piece of art is available in the Limited Edition of 30 pieces.
Santos-Dumont XL Watch with Engraved, Enamelled Falcon Motif
In order to create a thrilling 3-D effect on the dial of its new Santos timepiece, Cartier used high relief hand-engraving and champlevé enamel, which is particularly visible on the falcon’s wings and the contrasting mosaic of feathers and downy fluff. The matt mineral black surface is distinctive enough to emphasize the figure of the predator, but it stands in the perfect harmony with falcon’s delicate shades of gray and blue-tinged black. An orange-tinted enameled eye with an amazingly realistic pupil is executed so nicely that it looks as the falcon stares directly at you.
The case of the Santos-Dumont XL watch is made of rhodium-coated 18 karat white gold and set with 49 baguette-cut diamonds. It is attached to an elegant semi-matt black alligator skin with a double adjustable folding buckle in 18 karat white gold set with 37 baguette-cut diamonds. The watch is powered by a Cartier’s Calibre 430 MC hand-winding mechanism. The prestigious watchmaker decided to release 20 pieces of this beautiful model.
Ronde Louis Cartier XL Watch with Horse Motif in Grisaille Enamel
This Cartier’s masterpiece showcases another rare and ancient enamelling technique, called grisaille after a term for painting executed entirely in monochrome or near-monochrome. At this dial, the brand’s artists used marine blue as the base for the palette of white shades, which wonderfully depicts moonlight and shadows on the mane of an Andalusian horse. It took almost 40 hours for the enamelling of the single dial, starting with brilliant blue enamel that was later treated with Limoges white in a series of six to eight different firings.
The white gold dial is framed with 61 brilliant-cut diamonds that cover a rhodium-coated 18 karat white gold case, inside which a Calibre 430 MC hand-winding mechanism beats. Available in the limited series of 80 pieces, the Ronde Louis Cartier XL Watch with Horse Motif in Grisaille Enamel comes with a stylish semi-matt black alligator strap, with a double adjustable folding buckle in white gold set with 43 brilliant-cut diamonds.
Rotonde de Cartier Watch with Lion Motif in Straw Marquetry
This is definitely the most unusual model in the Cartier’s Métiers d’Art Watch Collection 2013, distinctive by the technique and by its material which are rarely seen in watchmaking. As a matter of fact, the renowned French watchmaker started using straw for its watches two years ago. By using the old Eastern technique which was brought to England in the 17th century, Cartier’s artists created a stunning motif of the lion’s head. In order to mimic the varying shades of wood, veneer, wheat or oat straw has to be split and soaked in water. Furthermore, strips are ironed to reach warm shades and silky brilliance.
Thanks to the richness of shades, from pale gold to deepest dark brown, you can see a great number of details on the feline’s head and mane, emphasized by different perspectives and creatively cut shapes. The background of the dial is crafted in yellow gold, while a perfectly round and polished case comes in 18 karat pink gold. It incorporates a beaded crown set with the brand’s signature, blue sapphire cabochon. A semi-matt brown alligator strap with a double adjustable folding buckle in pink gold nicely matches the main shades of the dial. Through a sapphire crystal case-back, you can see a Calibre 9601 MC hand-winding mechanism. The Rotonde de Cartier watch with the lion motif in straw marquetry is created in the Limited Edition of 70 pieces.
Rotonde de Cartier Flying Tourbillon Watch with Cameo Crocodile Motif in Natural Agate
By reaching both aesthetical and technological perfection, this timepiece deserved to be singled out as the greatest creation in the collection. Of course, this is just my opinion and there is no doubt that many of you already have different favorites. Bold relief and sparkles of light executed in the technique of the cameo, as well as subtle gradations of blue in its natural agate, make the crocodile motif so natural and vivid, looking as if it is just emerging from the water. Beautiful shades of the agate, ranging from blue-tinged black to shimmering white, demonstrate great expertise of the brand’s craftsmen who achieved the high artistic level without damaging the stone.
Right below the wild animal, there is an aperture to reveal one of the most precious haute horological complications, a flying tourbillon with seconds indicated by the carriage in the form of the brand’s signature leather C. Also visible through a sapphire crystal case-back, the Calibre 9452 MC hand-winding mechanism has the Geneva Seal certification. The case of this Rotonde de Cartier watch is made of 18 karat white gold and it is available with a black semi-matt alligator strap. This exquisite watch is limited to just 30 pieces.