Discovering Cartier Watches in New York
Welcome To The World Of Cartier
Hands up if you think Cartier is just a jewelry brand that happens to make watches too. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. You’re wrong of course, but you’re certainly not alone. After all, many people have come to associate the name Cartier with images of exquisitely crafted jewelry, sparkling resplendently with diamonds and other precious jewels. No surprise really, the centuries old French atelier has always been prized for its highly feminine creations, classic pieces that exude elegance and good taste.
A History of Time
Since the late 19th century however Cartier has also been in the business of making watches, several of which are considered timeless design classics, such as the Tank collections, which once upon a time were all but mandatory accompaniments to black tie attire. You may be surprised also to learn that Cartier was actually responsible for creating one of the first ever wristwatches when, in 1904, Louis Cartier came up with a way for the famous Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos Dumont to be able to tell the time while flying, leading to the birth of the iconic Santos line.
Admittedly though Cartier does not have the same heritage as some of its illustrious counterparts when it comes to producing complicated timepieces. This is slowly but surely beginning to change however, with the brand investing heavily in its watchmaking facilities and releasing a broad array of technically and aesthetically impressive new pieces, leaving little doubt about the Maison’s incredible horological talents and its commitment to building a fully-fledged watch range.
Cartier in New York
There are a number of models to choose from to demonstrate this fact and so it seemed that a trip to the Cartier boutique on 5th Avenue in New York was in order. Cartier has a long history in New York, with Pierre Cartier, a grandson of the company’s founder, establishing the company’s United States operation all the way back in 1909. In 1917 he bought an Italian Renaissance-style building estate located at 653 Fifth Avenue, which had been built for the financier Morton F. Plant in 1905, and this remains the same location of the Cartier flagship boutique to this day. Well, that was until April of this year at least, when Cartier temporarily relocated to the ground floor of the General Motors Building whilst extensive renovations are undertaken on the original store.
As you can see in the photos the new boutique’s décor is almost as extravagant as the precious jewels the brand sells and spans an impressive 8,000 square feet of selling space, making it the company’s largest US store. Elaborate chandeliers hang from the 22-foot ceilings, whilst the displays house all of Cartier’s most exquisite creations, including timepieces which of course is exactly what we came for.
The Rotonde de Cartier Astrocalendaire
2One of the first pieces we looked at, and a personal favorite of mine, was the Rotonde de Cartier Astrocalendaire, introduced earlier this year. The concept of the Astrocalendaire is really quite simple but it is the flawless execution of the final product that has really caught people’s attention. Essentially the watch features a perpetual calendar complication, however in a highly unusual move it indications are displayed in a concentric format. Radiating out from the flying tourbillon at the centre the watch displays the day, the month, and finally the date in a clear and easy to read format on rotating apertures.
It may seem slightly overwhelming at first but once you understand the layout you will realise it is really quite intuitive. All of the calendar functions can be set via the crown except for the day, which is advanced by a pusher in the 45mm platinum case. Sadly though, only 100 pieces of this limited edition timepiece will be produced.
The Ballon Bleu Flying Tourbillon with Blue Flinqué Enamel Dial
If you looking for something a little more simple but no less eye-catching however than perhaps the Ballon Bleu Flying Tourbillon with Blue Flinqué Enamel Dial is the piece for you. With this watch Cartier demonstrates its mastery of the traditional art of Flinqué enamel, a highly specialised technique in which a decorated metal surface (typically guilloché or hand engraved) is covered with a layer of translucent enamel. The enamel color is deposited by means of a quill pen or brush, a process that is repeated several times (minimum 4) each punctuated by a spell in the oven at about 820 degrees. When the thickness of enamel is good, the surface is radiused. After a final passage in the oven, the front of the dial is polished to give it its final gloss.
The end result is nothing short of breathtaking. Of course the flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock complete with Cartier’s ‘C’ motif doesn’t hurt either. In fact you will probably need to divide your time between staring at the dial and the tourbillon. The case is a very delicate 39mm in white gold, whilst the movement is the manufacture caliber 9452.
The Rotonde de Cartier Earth Moon
The final piece in our selection was the Rotonde de Cartier Earth Moon, also launched this year, which features a unique “on demand” moonphase complication. What does that mean exactly? Well, if you press the pusher on the side of the 47mm platinum case, a stone lapis lazuli disc begins to descend into position over the tourbillon aperture at six o’clock to re-create for you in real time the current crescent shape of the moon. The rest of the dial is also made from lapis lazuli and features a second-time zone display via a sub-dial at 12 o’clock, however again this is one of those pieces you just need to see in the flesh for yourself to truly appreciate.
Of course there are also some less extravagant Cartier Watches but to see them you are just going to have to visit the boutique for yourself.
With special thanks to Cartier New York.
If you would like to know more about any of the watches discussed above or any other models please visit Cartier’s official website here.