The return of the pocket watch...

Dec 21, 2011,21:49 PM

Before the wristwatch, when pocket watches were widely used, they were sold as is, with a presentation box. Often the chain was sold separately as well. Today pocket watches are no longer practical but have evolved into miniature clocks, to be displayed grandly on a desk. And for that reason, I predict pocket watches are in the early stages of making a comeback.




And that is the rationale behind the skeleton Grand Complication pocket watch Cartier will unveil at SIHH 2012. It is presented with a stand made from rock crystal with a glossy obsidian base, complete with a silver hook to hang the watch. Cartier includes a chain, in white gold to match the case, but that’s just a formality in my opinion. Weighing 155.05 g, this will be inconvenient to carry around, unless carried by a minion. This pocket watch belongs on a desk.







Cartier is not the first to unveil a haute horlogerie pocket watch in recent years, but it is certainly one of the first traditional houses to do so. The others have been independents like Richard Mille and Urwerk.


But unlike the independents Cartier’s pocket watch is traditional. The movement is from Renaud et Papi, delivered complete to Cartier in La Chaux-de-Fonds. It features a tourbillon, monopusher chronograph and perpetual calendar, and boasts an eight day power reserve.


This calibre has been used in previous years in various Cartier Grand Complication wristwatches, including the Rotonde Grand Complication skeleton unveiled earlier this year. In the wristwatch iterations I find it somewhat bland. Carole Forestier has a soft spot for Renaud et Papi as she worked there for several years before joining Cartier as head of technical development.




While extremely complex and beautifully finished, it’s not an extraordinarily interesting. But in the pocket watch form it is novel, especially combined with the beautiful skeletonised Roman numerals. It is a skeleton movement inside a skeleton case.


The case is white gold, with skeletonised Roman numerals around the movement, a design inspired by vintage Cartier pocket watches. Correctors for the perpetual calendar are clever incorporated into the Roman numerals at V, VIII and XI, so the pushers are on the rim of the case.


The Roman numerals are actually a single piece, machined from a block of white gold, before being hand finished, like a movement bridge. Over 300 edges of the Roman numerals, front and back, are bevelled by hand. This takes some three weeks to complete, according to Carole.





Carole also explained the conception of this pocket watch was to create a large and unique pocket watch. The choice of movement was the Astroregulateur or this Grand Complication. Eventually the latter was chosen because it is manual wind; the automatic Astroregulateur would have required a winder which is less elegant.





Ten pieces will be made in white gold, and another five pieces in white gold set with diamonds. The gold version will retail for EUR500,000. As for the diamond version, as the saying goes, if you have to ask…


It is expensive, without a doubt. But that’s because this is less a timepiece than something to be displayed.














This message has been edited by SJX on 2011-12-21 21:55:41

More posts: CalibresMonopusher ChronographRotondeUrwerk

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Mmmmm.... I dont want to rain on anyone's parade here, but

 By: 219 : December 22nd, 2011-07:56
outside of Richard Mille, the only other person/firm I could think of who had pocket watches in regular production was George Daniels! Richard wanted to go counter culture and the RM020 was the result. Very nice pocket watch by Cartier - very distinctive,... 

Several brands do

 By: SJX : December 22nd, 2011-19:14
but on the quiet and mostly on an order only basis. AP, Patek do, and I can think of JD and VC limited edition from last year. And then there's Urwerk. But I reckon this will get more common and this is important, pocket watches will be promoted more heav... 

Pocket watches never really left, they just became vintage

 By: Dje : December 22nd, 2011-09:39
Potential buyers of such watches should better not know vintage complicated pocket waches do exist! I'm not saying it's not beautiful, but it's not so beautiful either. The design is interesting, clearly, but the finish is way too industrial in my opinion... 

I particularly enjoy the detail about the numerals being from a single block

 By: BluNotte : December 22nd, 2011-16:53
Now, if that was from a Platinum ingot, different story. Nice touch and how of artistic craftsmanship by Cartier! Afterall they were one of the few guys who started offering Platinum in the early 1900s, and were at the forefront when Platinum was being br... 

An impressive watch...

 By: foversta : December 23rd, 2011-14:51
But I prefer the wristwatch version! Thanks SJX for the presentation! Fx...  

I prefer it in this case

 By: SJX : December 24th, 2011-01:47
But your wrist is more famous than mine. - SJX...  

SJX, I am interested in this idea

 By: docsnov : December 24th, 2011-02:39
of having a minion carry around my watch and whatever else I require. Does Cartier supply minions as an accesory? Are they different depending on the collection (i.e. Santos minion, Ballon Bleu minion, Calibre minion, etc.)? Any import restrictions? On a ... 

Depends on price range

 By: SJX : December 24th, 2011-05:53
At the entry to mid level, you get these minions: And at the Fine Watchmaking and above, her. I'm sure the folks at Cartier Paris are reading this, and I apologise for the numerous enquiries you'll get because of this post. On a serious note, Cartier take...  

I would go with the fine watchmaking minion

 By: docsnov : December 24th, 2011-22:08
as long as she is not pointing that gun at me. I certainly wouldn't want to piss her off I think Cartier does have quite a few designs that push the envelope so to say. The Santos skeleton with roman numerals as bridges, the Santos that you can have 3 dif... 

This is like a cross between a watch and clock, disguised as a pocket watch

 By: Hororgasm : December 25th, 2011-18:31
I can see a Rapper like Ludacris Or o Pdaddy hanging it over their necks, as a fashion statement...probably to the horror of the Powers at Cartier. Best, Horo

I reckon it's more likely to be seen on their desks...

 By: SJX : December 25th, 2011-23:54
"You think they'll do it in platinum for me?"...