Cartier What Drives A Gentleman?

It is the Drive de Cartier……
While the Ballon Bleu de Cartier features a round case, the Cle de Cartier is an integration of cushion- and circle-shaped case. The newest Drive de Cartier lineup boasts a cushion-shaped case, refined and masculine. As the third collection developed by the Maison within a decade, this handsome piece is created exclusively for men, with good reason. Don’t you know that the first Cartier timepiece was made for the male pilot friend of Louis Cartier? Both rose gold and stainless steel models are on offers. The former reiterate the opulent tradition of the Maison and the latter keep up with the current trend.

The Brand New Contour

Besides the men only series Santos Dumont and Calibre de Cartier Diver, Cartier timepieces are mostly feminine or unisex. This year, the long awaited men only pieces are unveiled and come in a distinctive contour. We know the Santos is in square, the Crash in irregular, the tank in rectangular. To set it apart from other collections, The Maison designs an exquisite cushion-shaped case. The watch is nicely sized at 41 x 40mm, slightly smaller than the Calibre de Cartier Diver and little more spacious than the Cle de Cartier. Though the Drive de Cartier is not an ultra-thin watch, it is fairly 11.5 mm thick.

An acute eye for meticulous details, Cartier designs different case shapes and crowns for different collections. For instance, the Ballon Bleu de Cartier has a balloon-like crown and the Cle de Cartier a key-shaped crown. The Drive de Cartier watch, with no exception, has also its exclusive crown shaped like a bolt. Even the dial is covered by a coat or jacket, the crown itself can tell which is which.

With Sports Car Luxe

The latest collection is delivered in one size but comes with various combinations of functions: small seconds, semi-complication, and tourbillon, all inspired by sports car design elements. To call it “inspired by automobile”, it does not necessarily come with straps in tyre tread pattern nor carbon fibre bezels. Cartier has shrewdly presented us the awe-inspiring designs – the guilloche pattern resembles the radiator grill of motor cars and the small seconds dial mirrors the dashboards.

All Watches lead to Roman Numerals

The three new watches share the same design code – the Roman numerals. And they carry also the Maison’s secrete signature. To read closely on the dial, you’ll notice the brand name “CARTIER” is subtly hidden in the letter “V” at 7 o’clock. Due to the limitation of space, the tourbillon model moves the secret signature to letter “X” at 10 o’clock.

Drive de Cartier Small Complication

Free from said code, Cartier has showed us it creative prowess from time to time. They don’t always make traditional and typical function display window. For example, the day/night indicator and GMT function were bestowed an unconventional design, which was first seen in the Rotonde de Cartier in Watches&Wonders 2014.

Three practical functions seem to be arbitrarily allocated on the dial. The large date window sits at 12 o’clock, while a crescent shaped day/night indicator is assigned at 4 o’clock. It has to point out that there is not a power reserve indicator at 11 o’clock. Instead, it is an arc-shaped second time zone display. Speaking of the design, it is not an orderly balanced dial and we don’t see the golden ration in it; yet such dial layout does add a whimsical touch to the piece and make it like no other. Over the past few years, Cartier has created scores of innovative semi-complications. Besides the combination of day/night indicator and GMT function just mentioned, the blending of retrograde moonphase display and day/night indicator is another. Shown in the Rotonde de Cartier Day & Night, the upper dial is equipped with a day/night indicator disc, at the bottom is the pointer type moonphase indicator. It is suffice to say creating novel form of functions is always Cartier’s strong suit.

For the Drive de Cartier, the dial layout is quite similar yet the indices are fine-tuned thanks to difference of the dial sizes. And sword-shaped blue steel hands are used.

尺寸:41 x 40mm
機芯:1904-FU MC自動

Drive de Cartier Small Second

Being the latest lineup of the Maison, the Drive de Cartier collection appears to be a pretty good deal to customers. Housing the same 1904-PS MC movement as the Tank MC in steel ($50,000) and the Calibre de Cartier ($48,000), the Drive de Cartier Small Second is competitive at $46,000. Let’s give Cartier the thumbs up because of this surprisingly accessible price tag.

The Drive de Cartier, indeed, remains true to the Maison’s design DNA. In the field of creating new case shapes, there is, perhaps, no better authority than Cartier. As mentioned before, they’ve built case in circle, square, rectangle, cushion, and oval. The new release features a cushion shaped case (I reckon the Tortue is more close to tonneau shape), lending a vintage touch to the piece, while the combination of Roman numerals with the small seconds dial echoes the Art Deco style of the Maison. Last but not least, the integrated lugs and case leave the lines of the piece very clean and smooth.

The watch comes in two variations: stainless steel case with dial in silver or black, or rose gold case with dial in silver or grey. Overall the Drive de Cartier Small Second is an elegant package with a timeless appeal. On the wrist, it will never be too sporty or overdressed.

尺寸:41 x 40mm
機芯:1904-PS MC自動

Drive de Cartier Flying Tourbillon

The Flying Tourbillon is the most complicated model among the Drive de Cartier family. Released in 2008, the 9452 MC movement is the very first movement stamped with the Geneva Seal. First equipped in the Ballon Bleu, then Santos 100, it is today located at 6 o’clcok in the Drive de Cartier Flying Tourbillon. The C-shaped tourbillon cage, acting as a seconds hand as well, rotates once a minute without the presence of a tourbillon bridge. 

Same as the Small Second model, this piece comes in a cushion-shaped case and a cushion pattern on the dial. With the guilloche decoration as the backdrop, the Roman numerals on the outer ring and tourbillon look like hovering above the dial, underscoring the multi-layers construction style of the Masion.

尺寸:41 x 40mm
機芯:9452 MC手上鍊


The Drive de Cartier for men provides a wide array of options, from beginner, mid-range, to complication. It reveals also the blueprint of Cartier’s movement development.

Since Richemont Group acquired Roger Dubuis in 2007, Cartier is pleased to take over part of Roger Dubuis’s manufacture in Geneva and then developed the hand-wound movement 9452MC, its first movement stamped with Geneva Seal, followed by the astrotourbillon, mysterious tourbillon, grand complications, showcasting its complex achievements of haute horology.

On the other hand, Cartier has expanded its factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds and produced it first in-house 1904MC base movement. “MC” stands for Manufacture Cartier and 1904 is the year Louis Cartier created the very first watch.

Both the naming and construction of the movement are extraordinarily executed. The bridges and rotor are adorned with Cotes de Geneve, while the plates with Perlage engraving. Housed with stop-seconds mechanism, the movement features a balance wheel connected with a C-shaped regulator. Powered by double barrels, the movement offers only 48 hours of power reserve, not as much as expected. But it is done intentionally to shorten each barrel spring so as to give a more stable torque.

1904-FU MC自動機芯

1904-PS MC自動機芯

9452 MC手上鍊機芯


Text:Douglas Sung / Photo:Kauzrambler