Launched in 1998 as a part of the Collection Privée Cartier Paris, or CPCP for short, this rare, manual-winding, 18K white gold Cartier Tortue Monopoussoir (Ref. 2396) is part of a series of mechanical watches based on historic Cartier designs The CPCP showed watch connoisseurs what Cartier was capable of producing at a time when the brand was known for producing quartz based time pieces. Most models in the CPCP were designed for the men’s market and were available between 1998 and 2008 in very limited numbers using mechanical movements from external suppliers, until the Fine Watchmaking Collection was introduced using movements developed in-house.
A reference point in the history of modern watchmaking, the Calibre 045MC that powers the Tortue Monopoussoir was produced by THA Èbauche. Founded in 1996, THA was a collaborative movement manufacture by Vianney Halter, Denis Flageollet (founder of De Bethune), and François-Paul Journe, before their respective brands became household names. With this illustrious collection of watchmakers involved there is little surprise that the Calibre 045MC is such a work of art, both technically and visually.
Used only for the various Cartier Tortue Monopoussoir models, the Tank Monopoussoir and the De Bethune Monopoussoir, Calibre 045MC has a lever escapement and the balance beats at 21,600 A/h. Using a clutch system, the motion of the second wheel of the base movement to the chronograph’s central wheel in the Calibre 045MC is activated by a double swivel pin, removing the ‘jolt’ of the seconds hand that often takes place in chronographs operated by a lateral clutch. The resulting smooth operation of the hand gliding across the dial is as beautiful as the movement itself, finished to perfection and visible through an ellipse sapphire exhibition case back.
A modern-style guilloche dial replaces the design of the original model from 1928, with the blued steel ‘Breguet' style hands and inky blue minute track with contrasting pale grey numerals providing effortless Cartier elegance and a vintage feel. The traditional Cartier sapphire is also now set in the octagonal winding crown rather than solid gold, as well as a larger and thicker case, measuring 43x35mm with a thickness of 10mm.