Breaking news: Cartier Fine Watchmaking at SIHH 2012

Jan 15, 2012,14:45 PM

Cartier Fine Watchmaking at SIHH 2012 comprises a solid and varied range. At the very top is a new calibre in the minute repeater, but there are also useful new entry level timepieces, like the new annual calendar with an eminently practical display.


We’ll start with the watches many have long asked for – with smaller case sizes. Two models have been unveiled, the first being the Rotonde Flying Tourbillon. It uses the same tourbillon calibre with Geneva Seal first seen in the Ballon Bleu tourbillon, except the case is a mere 40 mm.


And the dial is conservative in the traditional Cartier style – silvered guilloche with blue steel hands. The only indication this is a watch from the Fine Watchmaking range is the two-level dial, with the indices sitting above the guilloche base. This will retail for about EUR66,000 in rose gold and EUR70,600 in white gold, making this Cartier’s entry level tourbillon wristwatch.






Similar in style is the new Rotonde Perpetual Calendar. It has a 40.5 mm case and the same 1904 MC based calibre as the Tortue perpetual with retrograde day indicator. Like the Rotonde Flying Tourbillon, the dial styling is restrained. Pricing is also fairly accessible at EUR37,000 for rose gold and EUR39,600 for white gold.








Both this and the Rotonde Flying Tourbillon are well priced and classical in style, but not outstanding technically or visually. They serve as excellent entry level models for the FWM range however.


Another new model that is a variant of an existing piece is the Santos Dumont Skeleton in rose gold. Originally in white gold, then ADLC coated titanium, the Santos Dumont Skeleton is one of the best sellers of the FWM range.


Though physically identical to its siblings, the rose gold version is naturally much louder. This might work better for female wrists too, because the white gold version can look a bit cold. This is EUR30,000 or so, a bit less than the white gold skeleton.






Using the Renaud & Papi calibre that has been seen previously in the wristwatch grand complications is the Grand Complication Skeleton Pocket Watch. This has already been covered in-depth on this forum as part of the SIHH preview but here is a brief recap.






It is a tourbillon, perpetual calendar and monopusher chronograph with eight day power reserve. The 52 mm case is white gold with skeletonised Roman numerals machined from a block of white gold. All the Roman numerals are hand-bevelled, front and back, which totals over 300 bevels calling for three weeks of work.





10 pieces will be made with a retail of EUR500,000. A further five with diamond-set cases will be available. The price generously includes a rock crystal and obsidian desk stand, as well as a matching white gold chain.


Also using an existing calibre is the new Cadran Love Tourbillon. The movement was first used in the crocodile tourbillon of 2011 and is openworked in a manner that gives it a pleasing architectural look. That is complemented by the concave Roman numerals that sweep across the left side of the dial. All of that – the movement and numerals – sit on a grey guilloche base.












Because of the design the case is 46.2 mm but result remains balanced and proportional. This would actually make a very attractive ladies watch. Though this is an aesthetic, rather than technical, innovation, it is beautifully executed.


A watch that has been designed specifically is the Panthere Masse Secrete. Not only is it a new model, but unusually for a ladies’ jewellery timepiece, it contains a clever new movement.






The jewelled panther on the dial – which is a very subtly toned dark mother of pearl – is actually the rotor of the watch. It winds bidirectionally and is linked to gearing on the perimeter of the movement.







Contrary to the initial impressions, the panther is not co-axial with the canon pinion for the hands. According to Carole Forestier, the winding efficiency is similar to that of a regular automatic, despite the unconventional mechanism.




Retail on this will be EUR130,000. Pricey no doubt but not unreasonable, given the brand, diamonds and novel calibre.


Another new calibre for 2012 is found in the Rotonde Annual Calendar. It is automatic and based on the 1904 MC.







Legibility was the goal when this watch was conceived, and Cartier has achieved that. The dial is cleverly layered to accommodate all the calendar indications. Though it looks busy legibility is excellent; the red tipped hands for the day and month are more than easy to read.








My only gripe is that the date is set fairly deep inside, due to the dial layers. The annual calendar is a practical watch that does what it’s supposed to do well, without bells and whistles.


Finally we get to the flagship complication of the year, the Rotonde Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon. Cartier has unveiled an impressive number of complications in the last few years, and the minute repeater of course tops them all.




Much research was done over several years and the result is a repeater with volume, tone and clarity that is excellent. That is especially so for the titanium case version (it’s also available in rose gold). There are lots of details to explain for this, and I will examine the repeater in detail in another post.


In terms of finishing this also excels. More important than the fact that it has the Geneva Seal, is that the calibre actually has the highest standard of finish of any current Cartier timepiece and is comparable to the other top haute horlogerie houses.









Visually it is handsome, though not quite elegant. The case is 45 mm but the movement is enormous, so the weight is minimal. The titanium version for instance weighs a mere 32.1 g. I do like the symmetry and animation of the exposed hammers and gongs on the dial, but I find the tourbillon an unnecessary distraction.





50 pieces will be made in each metal, with a price of EUR230,000 for titanium and EUR240,000 for rose gold.


Cartier’s FWM range for 2012 is fairly compact, but well balanced in complication and price segments, as well as between aesthetics and technical competence. The brand is certainly keeping up the momentum since the FWM collection was unveiled.



This message has been edited by SJX on 2012-01-15 14:45:58 This message has been edited by SJX on 2012-01-25 19:22:05

More posts: Ballon BleuCalibresFlying Tourbillongrand complicationsMonopusher ChronographOpenworkedPanthereRotondeRoyal OakSantosSantos Dumont

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I like what I see so far

 By: mell0822 : January 15th, 2012-16:11
though I find the Santos Dumont Skeleton looks better in white gold (at least in photo). What's the price for the annual calender? Thanks. Melvin

EUR25,500 in rose gold before tax. [nt]

 By: SJX : January 21st, 2012-05:15
No message body

Movement decoration aesthetic

 By: Moses : January 15th, 2012-22:42
Ive noticed that Cartier's movements are quite austere, monochrome. Obviously a design decision...historically have they not favored blued screws, gold engraving, etc? The austerity is distinctive, but quite hard on the eye. Although I guess they are sold... 

Movement decoration depends on the overall aesthetic

 By: SJX : January 21st, 2012-05:14
For instance the skeletons are all monochrome due to the design but the minute repeater is very traditional in its striping and bevelling because it is a high-end complication. Other calibres are decorated with the interlocking "C" logo, as a nod to the d... 

WOW! WOW! WOW! Bravo Cartier!

 By: ArthurSG : January 16th, 2012-06:25
I don;t know where to start but WOW again! The Annual Cal has a noce and different expression I don;t recall seeing in other annual cals.. Patek.. are you paying attention? The WG Per cal I also very very nice and even the so call entry level Tourbi. The ... 

The annual calendar

 By: SJX : January 21st, 2012-05:10
is EUR25,500 in rose gold before tax. Diameter is 45 mm. All the movements are in-house save for the grande complication pocket watch, which is Renaud and Papi, and the Flying Tourbillon which is based on a Roger Dubuis ebauche. - SJX This message has bee... 

Great report!

 By: aaronm : January 16th, 2012-08:42
I liked the Cadran Love, though found the display-back a bit perplexing. Seeing more of the technology behind the Masse secret makes it a more interesting timepiece, it isn't just a regular movement flipped upside down. A

The Masse Secrete is interesting

 By: SJX : January 21st, 2012-05:09
Another take on the peripheral winding Patek did in the 70s and Bucherer more recently. - SJX


 By: willski : January 21st, 2012-02:44
Becoming more of a fan of Cartier. They definitely have a unique brand design identity and some of these designs are quite attractive! The annual calendar looks interesting design-wise, would be nice to see it in person to comment on the 'business' of the...