The ancient art of filigree appeared in Egypt in earliest antiquity. Its invention is attributed to the Sumerians in around 3000 B.C. before being developed in India, Tibet, Greece and Iran and much later in Portugal where it reached a new level of excellence.
As diaphanous as lace, filigree is a technique of goldsmithing that uses gold or silver wires soldered together in order to create an openwork grid with a desired motif.
For Cartier, the challenge consisted not only in adapting it to the restrained dimensions of a watch case but also elevating this craft by opting for a very precious selection of jewellery materials such as gold, platinum and diamonds.
The craftsmen of the Maison des Métiers d’Art worked with beaten gold and platinum micro-wires that required specific equipment specially created on site. Twisted, rolled, curled and cut into little rings, these wires were assembled using the «openwork» filigree technique that allows the elements to be attached on the sides but not to the base.
A rare preciousness with a balance, grace and absolute refinement that are as ethereal as the finest lace.
Over a month of work was required to create this lacework watch that is home to a pair of panthers whose black-lacquer-spotted coats are literally woven from fine filigree elements of gold and platinum set with diamonds.
Sovereigns draped in brocade, the two panthers look at each other with their cut-to-measure emerald eyes. This delicate feline tête-à-tête is set against the background of a starry sky and surrounded by a middle pavé-set with diamonds, which is partly covered by the motif.
This exceptional work of art brings together numerous kinds of craftsmanship, from gemstone-setting to goldsmithing, from jewellery-making to watchmaking, from engraving to lacquering. A thousand actions that give Cartier’s emblematic animal a rare preciousness with a balance, grace and absolute refinement that are as ethereal as the finest lace.
Ronde Louis Cartier XL watch, filigree panthers motif
Mechanical movement with manual winding, calibre 430 MC
Limited series of 20 numbered pièces