Cartier's New Watches Have Already Stood The Test Of Time
Cartier has announced reinterpretations of two of its iconic watches and a relaunch of the Cartier Pasha, originally made as a one-off in the Thirties to the specifications of the Pasha of Marrakech.
The brand has been one of the world’s pre-eminent jewelers since 1847, when Louis-François Cartier, a goldsmith, took over the workshop of his mentor in Paris. His first pocket watch, the Cartier Santos, was released in 1906 in response to Brazilian inventor and aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont’s desire for a watch he could wear while flying. The company also precipitated the vogue for rectangular watches with the Tank in 1917, which was initially a gift to General Pershing of the American Expeditionary Force, and later worn by Rudolph Valentino in 1921’s The Sheik, and is now a much-imitated design classic.
In addition to releasing its main collection watches each year, since 2015 Cartier has been launching capsule collections under the 'privé' name, with each year one of its famous silhouettes getting some special treatments and reinterpretations.
Following the Crash watch, the Tank Cintrée and the Tonneau watch—the first models to be reinterpreted by the Cartier watchmaking design studio—2020 sees the Tank Asymétrique get the remix treatment.
It was Louis Cartier’s bright idea to give a watch the shape of a rectangle in 1917, at a time when timepieces were round. From 1917 to 1936, it saw multiple incarnations.
When it appeared in 1936, the Tank Asymétrique watch marked a break with tradition.
Everything on the dial was shifted 30 degrees to the right. The rectangle of the original Tank became a diamond, with the 12 placed in the upper right-hand corner of the case and the 6 opposite. Instead of Roman numerals, Arabic numerals – and only the even digits – appeared, all separated by indexes. The asymmetrical effect was such that a specific strap needed to be developed for the watch. In addition, certain models saw the axis of symmetry in the center of the watch replaced by a special insert. This detail, which had nothing to do with aesthetics, was unique to the watch, making it highly rare today.
The 2020 Tank Asymétrique sees a number of changes. The Arabic numerals and their separating indexes have been completely redesigned. The watch is now available in pink gold with a grey dial and strap, in yellow gold with a champagne dial and brown strap, and in platinum with a silver-colored dial, ruby cabochon, and gray strap. There are also skeletonized versions.
Each one comes in a limited edition of 100 numbered pieces with a made-to-measure strap.
The new Tank Asymétrique collection
Cartier is also releasing a new Santos-Dumont in limited edition, engraved versions that pay tribute to the original airman's flying machines.
The ‘Le Brésil’ Santos-Dumont watch comes in a 100-watch limited edition, in a platinum case with a silvered dial and a ruby on the winding crown. On the reverse is engraved the design of Santos-Dumont’s first flying machine, ‘Le Brésil’, created in 1898.
The ‘La Baladeuse’ Santos-Dumont comes in a 300-watch limited edition, in a yellow gold case with a champagne dial and a sapphire winding crown. On the back is engraved the profile of ‘La Baladeuse’ or “n°9”, an experimental-looking motorized airship in which Santos-Dumont crossed the Parisian sky in 1903.
The ‘n°14 bis’ Santos-Dumont comes in a 500-watch limited edition with a yellow gold bezel on a steel case with an anthracite grey dial. On the back, an engraving of ‘n°14 bis’. In this flying machine, described as a ‘kite of compartments’—the pilot, standing in the fuselage, was connected to the rudder and fins by cables.
The Santos-Dumont ‘La Demoiselle’ is an extra-large platinum watch in 30 numbered pieces, engraved with the design of ‘La Demoiselle’, said to be the most elegant of Santos’ flying machines. This is a special edition in a lacquered wooden box with a leather watch travel case and Santos de Cartier cufflinks.
Last but not least Cartier releases new takes on the Cartier Pasha. The original watch designed by Louis Cartier was solid gold with a metal grille on the crystal to protect it, as well as a screw-down cap that sealed the crown from the water. The Pasha of Marrakech was a keen swimmer, as well as a well-known character among the world’s elite. Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin were friends and visited him at home in Marrakesh—a city he invested in, building palaces, golf courses, hotels, and lavish gardens.
In the Forties, Cartier added a version of Pasha’s custom watch to its catalog, though it didn’t get a proper release until 1985 when Cartier commissioned Gerald Geta to make a modern sports watch for the company, the leading watch designer having already found great success with luxury sports watches, vith the Royal Oak for Audemars Piguet and the Nautilus for Patek Philippe.
Original Cartier Pasha from the mid-Eighties
Its design was no less original—a square inside a circle, with four bold Arabic numerals giving it a contemporary, oversized appearance.
The Pasha collection came in a huge variety of models, ranging in size from 35mm to 42mm—and from sporty stainless steel versions to OTT rose gold versions, before it went out of production in the Nineties, though it was never formally discontinued.
From September this year, it will be back. Produced in 41mm steel or yellow gold as well as skeleton and women’s versions, it comes with a multi-purpose strap in steel, gold, or leather, all of which can be interchanged. Further updates to the original include a blue spinel or sapphire on the crown, and the option to engrave under the chained crown.
The new Cartier Pasha family
A square inside a circle
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.