Watches & Wonders is often the time when brands showcase some of their most outlandish and eccentric timepieces for the year and Cartier are no strangers to exotic horology. The Privé Collection has long been home to some of the most daring case shapes and designs in the watchmaking world and now a stalwart of the collection is getting a 2021 spruce up and crucially an in-house movement. Welcome the updated Cloche De Cartier.
When it comes to traditional case design, there are generally some rules that watchmakers adhere to, in fact, you can read about them in our handy guide to case shapes where you’ll see Cartier’s name pop up more than once. However, when it comes to the Privé Collection, they’re more than happy to rip up the rulebook with crazy Avant Garde designs like the Crash and last year’s Tank Asymétrique.
The Cloche, or bell shape, first appeared in 1917 and has been a staple of their non-standard designs since. Its key feature is the flat side opposed with crown-side curve, which gives the piece its distinctive bell shape and allows the watch to double as a miniaturised table clock. The dial on the watch is also rotated 90 degrees, ensuring it’s easy to read while placed flat side down, previous editions have even orientated the numerals to match.
Its modular, multi-use design apparently made it popular with men engaged in café society or racing circles but in reality, it can be appreciated by anyone with a flat surface and a clammy wrist.
Classic Cloche De Cartier
The new Cloche timepiece is available in two distinct versions. The first version is called the Classic Cloche De Cartier and is a faithful recreation of the aesthetic of its earliest predecessors. It has roman numerals orientated to fit the eccentric shape and has sword-style hands. The original design was meant to be readable from any distance, orientation and angle and its modern counterpart follows the same principles.
The case diameter measurements of 37.15 x 28.75mm don’t really give a true indication of how the piece would sit on your wrist, because the design is off-centre and lopsided – but let’s be real for a second here, if you’re buying a watch from the Privé Collection then ergonomics aren’t exactly the highest thing on your agenda.
As for the three options, there is an 18k yellow gold iteration with matching dial and sapphire cabochon crown, an 18k pink gold one with sapphire cabochon crown and finally a platinum one with ruby cabochon crown. Housed inside all of them is the 1917 MC Manufacture mechanical movement created in 2019 with a 38-hour power reserve – not a practical movement compared with the top end of calibres these days but respected for being the first in-house calibre added to the collection and anyway, who was expecting tons of practicality from an atypical watch?
Cloche De Cartier Skeleton
Completing the release is the brand-new skeleton version, showcasing the capabilities of modern Cartier. The calibre had to be totally reworked, so while it’s identical to the 1917 MC from a technical point of view, it’s known as the 9626 MC. Of more interest is how they’ve integrated the Roman numeral hour markers into the structure of the watch by turning them into the bridges that hold everything in place – not great for legibility but undoubtably quirky in that Cartier way.
This version has two platinum variations, one with a ruby cabochon crown and one set with 129 brilliant-cut diamonds, and a rose gold one. The overall impression of the skeleton watches is that they’re a fair bit more spectacular than the classic but a thousand times less practical due to the associated readability issues. And considering the relatively short power reserve, it isn’t a practical watch to begin with. Both versions are sure to make their way into lots of collections as cool oddities and another example of Cartier’s renowned craftsmanship.
Price & Specs:
Model: Cartier Cloche De Cartier (Privé Collection)
Case/Dial: 37.15mm x 28.75mm diameter, 18k yellow gold, 18k pink gold or platinum, closed or skeletonised dial (one platinum edition has 129 brilliant-cut diamonds)
Movement: In-house calibre 1917 MC, hand-wound, 19 jewels (closed dial models) or calibre 9626 MC, 25 jewels (skeletonised models)
Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)
Power Reserve: 38h
Functions: Hour, minutes
Strap: Black, anthracite grey grey or blue alligator leather
Price/Availability: TBC, limited edition of 100 pieces (closed dial models), 50 pieces each (skeletonised models in pink gold and platinum) and 10 pieces (platinum model with 129 brilliant-cut diamonds)
More details at Cartier.