Watches

Cartier's Most Hypnotic Watches Combine Technical Skill, Radical Design, and a Bit of Magic

Three new models of the Rotonde de Cartier feature the art of skeletonization, the complexity of the tourbillon, and a mysterious movement.  
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Cartier is known for very fine things: jewels worn by kings, one of the first watches strapped on the wrist, jewels fashioned as panthers, and plenty of rare oddities. In short, it makes not only expensive stuff, but the most special fine stuff. 

Its most recent watch releases are a testament to this. Whether powered by inspiration or madness, the French luxury house combines three highly technical themes: the skeleton treatment, the tourbillon complication, and the house’s mysterious movement.

Rotonde de Cartier Astromystérieux

Photo by Cartier.

But first, a quick review: The tourbillon is the mesmerizing complication that, once upon a time, protected watches against the forces of gravity. Today, watches are so advanced, they don’t really need the stirrings and whirrings of the tourbillon to keep them safe, but we still desire the tourbillon because of just that—all the masterful spinning speaks of watchmaking virtuosity. 

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Meanwhile, a skeletonized watch is exactly as it sounds: a timepiece stripped of most elements so it appears scandalously naked. On an openwork watch, the bones and nuts, the bolts and gears, and, yes, the inner workings of the tourbillon are left undisguised. 

As for Cartier’s mysterious movement? According to the luxury house, its origin can be traced to Model A, a clock from 1912 that featured a transparent dial with “two hands that appeared to be suspended in mid-air.” 

Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon

Photo by Cartier.

So now, Cartier, in its “heavily protected workshops at the Cartier Manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds,” pieces these concepts together to birth three marvels that, if you are not careful, will hold you in thrall: the Rotonde de Cartier Astromystérieux, Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon, and Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Double Tourbillon.

There’s more and much to say about the new Rotondes but bluntly detailing how the pieces fit together will just rob them of their magic. What you need to know are the common threads, which include a high degree of technical skill and radical design, as well as a floating feeling, a weightless aspect, or a sense of transparency. 

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Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton Mysterious Double Tourbillon 

Photo by Cartier.

Cartier also puts forward the following descriptors: “a celestial object floating in space” and “a star suspended in the void.” What you really need to do is gawk at these watches to understand what the chewy prose means. A small warning, however: You may get hypnotized by the tiny little things spinning atop your wrist. 

cartier.com

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Clifford Olanday
Editor in Chief, Esquire Philippines
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