Cartier Skeleton Movement, Engraved Dragon

Since the Santos 100 skeleton watches released in 2009, Cartier has presented the world its sheer mastery of skeletonisation on movements. The Watches&Wonders 2014, now in its second year, will once again open its doors to visitors at the end of this month. And Cartier will introduce the newly developed calibres together with a dazzling dragon watch. The ornately engraved dragon is in fact the movement’s bridges, while the luxurious look of the watch is completed by the sparkling diamonds.

The Oriental Style

Before examining the watches, let’s have a look back on the history between Cartier and the Chinese culture and arts. Dubbed as the ‘Jeweller of Kings and the King of Jewellers’, the French jeweller Cartier has exhibited the east-meets-west style more than a century of history. Back in late 19th century, the Chinese culture spread across the Europe and influenced the creations of the brand. The mythical creatures dragon, phoenix and qilin as well as the use of emerald and jade became widely applied, showing a unique blend of eastern and western elements. 

In those days, Louis Cartier, the third generation of the Cartier family, was inspired by the ancient Chinese sculpture. He then created lacquered vanity cases and makeup palettes and made use of jade, carol and black onyx to create various jewellery. And don’t forget the Large Portique Mystery Clock inspired by the Chinese shrine gate. The brand keeps seeking inspiration from Chinese culture, arts, colours, materials and architecture and blends them with its unmatched creativity and craftsmanship, thus creating a wide array of masterpieces.

In 2009, Cartier once held the exhibition ‘Cartier Treasures’ at the Forbidden City in Beijing. The exhibition showcased a great many art pieces related to China. One of the exhibits was the ‘Chimera Bangle’ made in 1928. The bangle is adorned with precious gems and engraved coral. It is the brand’s very first bangle featuring a chimera totem in Greek myth which surprisingly looks like a Chinese dragon. Since then, the dragon ranks one of the iconic symbols in the brand’s menagerie.

A vanity case made in 1927, adorned with gems, jade, mother-of-pearl and black enamel. 

The ‘Chimera Bangle’ made in 1928 is opened by twisting one of the two dragon heads, the brand’s very first time of having a dragon design.

A desk clock with minute repeater made in 1930 features the dragon-shaped hands and two plaques of ‘laque burgaute’ on the sides, depicting Chinese scenes.

Exquisite Engraving

Specification:表殼:白金直徑:42mm機芯:9617 MC手上鍊動力儲備:3天功能:時、分款式:圓鑽表圈配鱷魚皮帶、圓鑽表圈配鏈帶(限量20枚)、長階梯形鑽石表圈配鏈帶(限量10枚)售價:約$965,000、其他售價待詢

Cartier first presented its first in-house movement as well as skeleton watches in 2009. The Santos 100 is still vividly remembered by its large case size and Roman numeral indices formed by the bridges. Instead of making skeleton work on existing skeleton movement, they beforehand had the skeleton dial design in their mind and then created a corresponding skeleton movement. Under such prerequisite, the Roman numeral indices marry the movement so naturally that every space in the case is fully utilised. This design has extended to the Tank family, followed by many coveted pieces. The brand has shown great enthusiasm for skeleton watches. 

This year, Cartier goes a step further by introducing a dragon watch, highlighting a legendary creature in Chinese myth. The dragon on the dial is studded with 233 diamonds and a marquise-cut tsavorite. The brand new hand-wound calibre 9617MC is nearly beneath the bridges in the form of dragon. Turning over to the caseback can still see the engraved dragon motif and a few parts. The movement itself has a width of 34.78mm and thickness of 5.3mm and is composed of 171 parts and 20 jewels, providing 3-day of power reserve.  

The skeleton movement with dragon motif is safely put in the 42mm white gold case. A skeleton dial is first seen in the classic Pasha de Cartier collection equipped with a serrated screw-down winding crown, ‘gun screw’ lugs and indented bracelet. The piece is available in 3 versions: bezel set with round diamonds with alligator strap (321 diamonds, 4.1 carats, individually numbered edition); or bezel and bracelet set with round diamonds (647 diamonds, 14.54 carats, limited to 20 pieces); or bezel and bracelet set with baguette-cut diamonds (585 diamonds, 28.53 carats, limited to 10 pieces). 

Turning over to the caseback can still see the engraved dragon motif and a few parts.

Tank MC Two-tone Skeleton

Specification:表殼:玫瑰金尺碼:34.5 x 43.8mm機芯:9619 MC手上鍊動力儲備:3天功能:時、分售價:約$414,000

Apart from the Skeleton Dragon Motif Watch which will be shown in the forthcoming Watches&Wonders. In this year’s SIHH, Cartier introduced 2 skeleton watches including the Tank MC Two-tone Skeleton. The oversize Roman numeral indices is no doubt one of the Cartier watch’s distinctive hallmarks. Last year we saw the Tank MC Sekeleton and the latest piece today is bestowed a stunning two-toned look. Palladium case in the earlier version is changed to rose gold. The hand-wound 9619 MC calibre is skeletonised and has a dark grey ruthenium coating and polished pink gold bevels, providing a stark contrast of the Roman numerals with the case. You can appreciate the traditional chamfering and the mechanical hearbeat through the sapphire crystal caseback. The piece is sized at 34.5 x 43.8mm and 9.3mm thick and teamed with sword-shaped hands in gold-coloured steel and a brown alligator strap.

Tank Louis Cartier
Sapphire Skeleton

Specification:表殼:白金尺碼:30 x 39.2mm機芯:9616 MC手上鍊動力儲備:3天功能:時、分、小秒售價:約$396,000

Either the Tank MC or Pasha de Cartier possesses extraordinary technical feat on the bridges. The Tank Louis Cartier Sapphire Skeleton makes another bold and refined creative statement: the partially-sapphire plate makes the skeleton movement more transparent. Indeed, transparency, has been an integral part of the Manufacture’s style for decades. They created the mystery clocks in 1912 and skeleton movements in the 1930s, not to mention the Rotonde de Cartier mysterious double tourbillon launched last year. Yet, the Tank Louis Cartier Sapphire Skeleton here underscores the construction of the movement. The newly developed hand-wound calibre 9616 MC is made up of adjoining circles of metal in alignment with gears and barrels, giving the movement the appearance of suspending within the case. This fabulous timepiece in white gold measures 30mm wide, 39.2mm long and 7.45mm thick. 

Promenaded’une Panthere

Specification:表殼:白金直徑:42mm機芯:9603 MC自動、白金豹形鑲鑽前置擺陀動力儲備:48小時功能:時、分表盤:深紫色珍珠貝母售價:約$1,550,000

Let’s have a tour of the Manufacture’s menagerie after exploring its latest skeleton watches. The Promenade d’une Panthere, accentuating the brand’s emblematic animal, debuted in 2012. The watch houses the hand-wound calibre 9603 MC with a rotor on the dial side in the form of a panther. As the rotor sways with the motion of the wearer’s wrist, it allows the white gold panther wearing black lacquer spots comes to life by prowling on the dial. This whimsical watch is in 42mm and embedded with 629 diamonds (6.9 carats) and features a deep purple mother-of-pearl dial. 

Panthere au Clair de Lune de Cartier

Specification:表殼:玫瑰金直徑:42.75mm機芯:9603 MC自動、 白金豹形鑲鑽前置擺陀動力儲備:48小時功能:時、分表盤:微繪琺瑯售價:待詢

The watch with a ‘running’ panther on the dial comes the latest addition this year. Yet, the white gold panther appears quietly and crouches on the branches. In addition, the piece adds some exquisite craftsmanship: the miniature enamel painting builds the jungle motif, while the branches are sculpted in pink gold and the foliage in green jasper. Powering this beautiful piece is the same hand-wound calibre 9603 MC. The 42.75mm watch is  in rose gold and studded with 395 diamonds (5.85 carats). 

A limited fully paved diamond version is available.

PanthereAjouree de Cartier

Specification:表殼:鍍銠白金機芯:8971 MC手上鍊功能:時、分售價:待詢

The high jewellery collection L’Heure Envoutee de Cartier presents this year another panther in a fully-paved diamond timepiece. The panther looks ready to jump out of the oval Baignoire dial and exhibits this truly wild animal’s liveliness, an emblem of powerful charm and the feminine elegance. The white gold case and bracelet are paved with diamonds, while the panther is adorned with round diamonds and black enamel. Inside this petite beauty is the in-house hand-wound calibre 8971 MC.