Cartier and it's Mono Poussoirs

Feb 28, 2010,07:19 AM

Cartier is one of the few brands that pampers it's heritage and history a lot;
actually more than any other brand.

Naturally since Cartier is one of the few companies that has an incredible rich history and
has always used it cleverly.


Instead of constantly inventing and introducing new designs, the brand chooses to use their
famous shapes and styles from the past and alter them slightly, to fit the different taste and
style of today.

Completely new designs are added to the mens catalogue, but with great care
and only once in a while.

Besides the ladies and quartz models, that are not mentioned here,
the Pasha, Roadster, Rotonde, Ballon bleu and the latest addition, Calibre de Cartier
are the only really new design (mechanical) examples that appeared since the last 25 years.

An important and early example of fine watchmaking is the 'Tortue Mono Poussoir'
that was released in 1928.

In the thirties Cartier worked very close with Jaeger (le Coultre) and
Cartier also obtained more complicated movements from the European Watch & Clock
Company, that supplied calibers for the different Cartier models like Tortue,
Tortue Mono Poussoir, Tank Cintrée, Tank a Guichets and probably a few more.
Not many of these Tortues have been produced and when a vintage Tortue MP,
occasionally appears at auctions it fetches a handsome price.
Unique of a Mono Poussoir or Single Pusher movement, is of course the fact, that all functions
of the chronograph are operated through that single crown.
Not only a clever invention, but it also gives the whole look of the watch a less busy,
less sporty and more dressy appearance, which makes it the first Chronograph watch
that really fits a Brooks Brothers suit.

The calibre 045MC has also the special feature of a clutch system with a swivel pin.
Which in fact means that the transmission of the movement of the second wheel of the base movement
to the chronograph's central wheel is effected through a double swivel pin.
The advantage of this clutch is that it suppresses the skip of he hand at the beginning of a translation
movement, which is found with the mechanisms of chronographs with a lateral clutch.

Collectors were happily surprised when Cartier presented the 'Collection Privée Cartier Paris'
in April 1999, to find a re-release of that famous Tortue MP, in yellow gold.


Quite a bit larger and thicker than the original model, to make it more masculine
and to fit the new Swiss movement.
But with a case size of 45x35 mm, still not a really large watch.
The handwound movement, calibre 045MC, is a THA ebauche.
THA is a company that was formed by 'Halter, Journe & Flageollet' so this calibre is their work.
Only the dial of this first yellow gold model comes só close to the early pieces.
Around the same time, the watch was also released in white gold version, with a modern dial,
that had just the number 12 in romans and really small 5 minute markers,
which gave the watch a very different and contemporary look, from the yellow gold version.


The trend and demand for larger watches moved on and the Tortue MP became larger.
The newer version came in pink gold, with a case size of 38x48mm and had a different design dial,
although we really talk about details here, it's still pretty different from the early piece.
Both sizes had the same Calibre 045MC.

The Tank Mono Poussoir is a different beast and was an unexpected surprise,
when it was launched in 2007.

Tank Mono Poussoir

It was in fact the second model, with a Mono Poussoir movement.
With it's pretty large, pink gold case of 34x43mm, the Calibre 045 and released in a
limited edition of only 100 pieces, it was pure candy for collectors.

Tank Mono Poussoir

A very interesting aspect of this watch is the fact, that it is indeed a historical piece
where still very little is known about.
This Tank was originally released in 1935, something I only learned recently.
As far as I know the model has not been auctioned, at least not since the last 15 years
and surprisingly enough the only picture of the historic model, that I know of,
can be found in the book 'Le Temp de Cartier' by Jader Barracca/ Giampierro Negretti / Franco Nencini.

Pictured here on the 'Le Temp de Cartier' book, together with the 2007 version;

Tank Mono Poussoir

Also quite remarkable is the fact that the Tank MP is not mentioned in the important book
'The Tank Watch' by Franco Cologni, that was released nine years later than
'Le Temp de Cartier'.

The pink gold version hardly reached the Boutiques and was sold out almost instantly In 2007.
and sold in fact so fast that some Boutiques did not even know of it's existence.
It was followed up in 2008, by a white gold version, that took a bit longer to sell out completely.
Same watch, same movement and again released in a limited edition of 100 pieces.
These editions are really small, to supply a world with over 200 Boutiques.

These Mono Pushers are excellent examples of good re-releasing of models from the past.
Cartier has created so many timeless designs in their rich past, that I am sure we will see more
of them in the future, equipped with the modern technology of today.
While the company was famous for their case and dial design in the past,
(movements were not an issue at all, at that time),
the company has changed it's vision and concentrates more on in house calibre's
for an important part of it's collection.


More posts: Ballon BleuCalibre de CartierPashaRoadsterRotondeTank

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Comments: view entire thread


Hi Geo, thanks for this very informative report.

 By: tony p : February 28th, 2010-07:59
I've always liked these Cartier Tortue Monopoussoir watches. The first photo I ever saw was of a YG version, but the photo was in black and white, and I thus assumed it was a white gold watch. I coveted that watch for a long time and was always disappoint... 

It could very well be

 By: Geo : March 1st, 2010-01:21
Hi Tony, It could very well be possible that the first CPCP Tortue MP, exists in white gold. In fact it does, since I have seen one in Paris, that was a custom order for someone. But Cartier did release sometimes, small editions/ limited editions in other... 

Beautiful and stunning timepieces.

 By: VMM : February 28th, 2010-08:11
The Tortue monopusher has always been one of my fav watches from the Cartier private collection. Smooth and elegant. This one is fantastic, hope you like it: Vte...  

Stunning Tourbillon

 By: Geo : March 1st, 2010-05:18
One of these watches one does not see every day. I only saw it once in the Amsterdam Boutique and was very impressed. Quite a large watch, that suits you very well. GEO

Excellent as ever!!

 By: MartinGreen : February 28th, 2010-09:23
Beautiful pictures combined with a very interesting read up about Cartier's magic history. Geo did is again....!!! Looking forward to all that is coming! Thanks! Martin

Tortue Mono Poussoir ...

 By: small-luxury-world : February 28th, 2010-12:01
saw it in 2004, at the Cartier Boutique in Lisboa and liked it a lot I appreciated your interesting and well done post a lot. Thanks! Oliver

Great post, Géo

 By: amanico : February 28th, 2010-13:44
I rediscover a model I first saw in 2003 or 2004 at the Paris Boutique, the Tortue Monopusher, with Arab 6 and 12... A great watch, with a very pure design...La Grande Classe, as we say in French. Pure pleasure to see these models again, my friend. About ... 

Thanks for the superb article Geo. There was also a Tank Obus chronograph?

 By: SJX : February 28th, 2010-20:27
I recall seeing one at a recent auction. - SJX

Thank you SJX

 By: Geo : March 1st, 2010-01:34
I do not recall a Tank Obus chronograph, but love to seeing it. Hope there exists a photo. The case of the Tank Obus looks however a bit small, to fit the MP movement I am afraid. What I have seen was a Tank chronographe, with the numbers on the bezel. Re... 

Tank Obus chronograph ?

 By: Bosimao watchfinder : March 1st, 2010-01:42
I'm very surprised there is a Tank Obus Chronograph as the Obus case is quite small..would you happen to have a picture ?

I recall it from a recent auction

 By: SJX : March 1st, 2010-03:10
I remember because I was debating whether to bid. Perhaps I am mistaken; I will verify with Cartier. - SJX

Thank you very much for this pleasant read

 By: Ares501 - Mr Green : March 1st, 2010-02:09
eagerly waiting for next one Sincerely Damian

Great article...

 By: Dino944 : March 1st, 2010-09:19
I enjoyed reading the background on MPs and also the info on the swiveling clutch which allows for a smooth transition of power to the chronograph function. Your photo of the Tortue MP and Tank MP side by side is fantastic. It allows one to really compare... 

Thanx George for this superb post and....

 By: monochrome : March 1st, 2010-11:01
beautiful photos. I loved reading it and this post sheds some light on a brand that is not always recognized for it's horological rich history. Thanx!


 By: gompie : March 1st, 2010-11:10
What a great report Geo!!!!

Thanks Gompie

 By: Geo : March 2nd, 2010-00:41
and good to seeing you here. GEO

Fantastic review !

 By: DrStrong : March 1st, 2010-12:25
thanks for the great job ! Cheers Jeff

Thanks much, Geo . . .

 By: Dr No : March 2nd, 2010-00:10
. . . the Tortue is a gorgeous design . . . dressy without a hint of excess. A little angularity does wonders for a dress watch, imho . . . cordially, Art

Gentlemen, thank you very much

 By: Geo : March 2nd, 2010-06:13
for the kind words. I am very pleased that the writing was well received, it was absolut fun making it. GEO


 By: Stephane.Adjamian : March 2nd, 2010-12:10
Thanks Geo for this report. These two watches are my favorites Cartier watches. I had the pleasure to sell the Tank to one of my favorite customers, and this piece is really really beautiful. I fight to have it because we had only 3 for France !!!. Concer... 

Stephane thank you for

 By: Geo : March 2nd, 2010-23:45
your reply. I agree on what you said about the Tortue GM. Besides the size the Tortue as a design has such a great fit too; it's just an excellent shape for a watch. GEO

A very enjoyable read, Geo!

 By: dxboon : March 3rd, 2010-07:48
Thanks for your thoughts on these Cartier models, and as always your pictures are superb! Monopusher chronos, especially the examples by Cartier, are so elegant and beautiful while retaining their sporting properties. Cheers, Daos


 By: Gerard Nijenbrinks : March 10th, 2010-08:42
Interesting article Geo! Does anyone know if the mono poussoir caliber in the DeBethune DB1 might be the same , or based upon the same, movement as the Cartier 045MC? Mr. Flageollet (of THA Ebauche) is one of the founders of DeBethune... Best regards, Ger...  

Tank MP

 By: WES_SS7 : March 18th, 2010-09:18
Great review, I have number 088 / 100 of the Tank MP in rose gold. It is a beautiful watch. Perfect for a well dressed event. I wore it tonight to the grand opening of the Peninsula hotel in Shanghai. It one of my favorites in my collection, in addition, ... 

What a coincidence, Edward...

 By: tony p : March 18th, 2010-17:53
I was there too! I selected my Breguet La Tradition for the occasion. Also in rose gold... Tell me, do you live in Shanghai? Or did you fly in for the event? It seems there were a large number of people there from "out of town". They did a pretty good job...  

It is...

 By: WES_SS7 : March 19th, 2010-10:42
Tony, It is a crazy coincidence. I wouldn't have expected another person to be there and follow the same watch thread. That was such a large event. I did not expect so many people. Normally these things are much smaller. they had 4000 people there and spe...