Taking another step forward in its conquest of men’s watches, Cartier presents Calibre de Cartier, driven by the first self-winding mechanical movement to have been entirely developed in-house. “Named 1904 MC as a tribute to a seminal date in the history of Cartier watches, this first self-winding movement to have been entirely crafted by Cartier continues that vitality of spirit, that desire to always go further, that distinguishes Cartier watchmaking. This conquest of time took on its full meaning in 1904 when Louis Cartier imagined one of the very first wristwatches so that his friend, the aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, could read the time in flight, without taking his hands off the controls.”
Even our first models for men, such as Ballon Bleu, were offered in smaller sizes with women in mind.
An "all-round" calibre
More than a century later, this attachment to men’s timepieces returns to the fore. Says Carole Forestier-Kasapi, who heads fine watch movement creation at Cartier, “until now, Cartier was very much associated with watches for a feminine clientele. Even our first models for men, such as Ballon Bleu, were offered in smaller sizes with women in mind. Calibre, which measures 11½ “’ with small seconds and date aperture, goes a step further as it will be proposed in a single size. As such, it highlights a change in mentality within the brand.”
This debut self-winding movement is intended as something of an “all terrain” model which the brand can use as the basis for its future Fine Watches. “What began as a strategic project rapidly became a priority,” Carole Forestier-Kasapi continues. “From a technical point of view, we set out to develop an all-round calibre. This explains the two barrels, which will provide the power or torque needed for any complications we might add. Put simply, this is a solid “basic” movement with all the advantages this entails for future developments. Developments which are already uppermost in our minds as we’re currently working on our collections for 2013 and 2014.”
Reinterpreting the classics
And so Cartier has made its mark on unexpected terrain, in a “man’s world” from which it had previously seemed excluded. It has done so with all the necessary force and a unique style with which to carry through its ambition. Some 20 people are currently employed in Cartier’s movement development department, with a further 12 engineers working in R&D. “Not that we intend constantly upping the ante,” Carole Forestier-Kasapi is quick to point out. “Cartier will never produce the world’s most complicated watch or the world’s thinnest watch. Our philosophy is to reinterpret the classics with original versions in the field of complications. Last year’s Santos skeleton and Rotonde Central are both prime examples of this, joined this year by the Rotonde de Cartier flying tourbillon and the Tortue perpetual calendar. These may be classic complications, these models have a no less magical aura. The same is true of the Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon, my personal favourite this year and a feat of technique with the power to interest people who might never ordinarily be drawn to Fine Watchmaking.”
This hasn’t prevented Cartier from venturing down avenues that border on fundamental research, as it recently revealed with ID One, the “adjustment-free” watch. “Again, we’re not in the business of chasing after exploits, but we do we have forces in research which Cartier decided to put to use to express its vision of watchmaking tomorrow,” Carole Forestier-Kasapi concludes. “ID One is a concept watch in the true sense of the term. In all likelihood, the watch you see today will never be commercially launched but instead serve as a starting point for exploring new technologies. Technologies that will enable us to produce a watch that will need no adjusting. Philosophically speaking, this means something in the watchmaking world.”