Skele­ton watches are the stars of Cartier’s latest ex­hi­bi­tion

Mod­ern open­work mar­vels are the stars of Cartier’s latest ex­hi­bi­tion of watches,

Hong Kong Tatler - - Contents - Em­i­lie Yabut-ra­zon dis­cov­ers

Ex­pos­ing the in­ner­most se­crets of the time­piece is what French watch­maker An­dré- Charles Caron had in mind in the 1760s when he art­fully cut away parts of the plates and bridges to re­veal his cre­ations’ wheels and gears. Con­sid­ered the fa­ther of skele­ton watches, Charon, a clock­maker to Louis XV, ex­cited public in­ter­est with his metic­u­lous trail­blaz­ing work. Since then, skele­ton time­pieces have been tes­ta­ments to the watch­mak­ers’ skill, de­mon­strat­ing that the beauty of a watch lies not only in its de­sign and func­tion­al­ity, but also in the conception of the move­ment.

In re­cent years, Cartier has as­serted its ex­per­tise in skele­ton move­ments by cre­at­ing new styles of open­work. Un­like the skele­ton cal­i­bres of old, in which the bridges of ex­ist­ing mod­els were pared back as much as pos­si­ble with­out com­pro­mis­ing their struc­tural in­tegrity, Cartier’s mod­ern-day mod­els are de­signed from the ground up, with their own unique move­ments. In some of the newer watches, the Ro­man nu­meral hour mark­ers func­tion as the ac­tual bridges, while in oth­ers, such as the Pasha de Cartier Skele­ton Dragon, the mo­tif of the time­piece forms the base of the move­ment. To il­lus­trate the de­vel­op­ment of its skele­ton watches, Cartier re­cently held an ex­hi­bi­tion at IFC Mall in a booth con­structed in the style of the open Ro­man nu­meral frame­work of the San­tos 100 skele­ton watch. In­side, four zones show­cased the brand’s most fa­mous open­work time­pieces from the past and present. While the mai­son has de­signed mys­tery and skele­ton clocks since the 19th cen­tury, it’s the com­pany’s mod­ern

ex­e­cu­tions that re­ally show off Cartier’s watch­mak­ing skill.

With the Tank LC Sap­phire Skele­ton, Cartier has taken one of its most recog­nis­able shapes and trans­formed it into a minia­turised mys­tery clock. En­tirely trans­par­ent, it shows off a stream­lined in-house 9616 MC skele­ton move­ment in the mid­dle of the dial sand­wiched be­tween two sap­phire plates. The watch, with di­men­sions of 39.2mm by 30mm, sits ex­tremely well on the wrist. The man­u­ally wound move­ment has a patented sap­phire mount­ing plate that makes it look as if it’s float­ing. The bar­rels, wheels and bal­ance are struc­tured around the cen­tral hands, and a large, cir­cu­lar bridge holds ev­ery­thing in place. The skele­ton is ex­tremely de­tailed, with bev­elled edges on al­most ev­ery com­po­nent, and is vis­i­ble from both sides of the watch. On the back, two bar­rels fea­ture promi­nently and pro­vide three days of power.

Cartier’s two con­cept watches, the ID One and ID Two, were also on dis­play to high­light break­throughs achieved in ma­te­ri­als and energy man­age­ment. One of the ap­pli­ca­tions of the new de­vel­op­ments is the Ro­tonde de Cartier Astro­tour­bil­lon Skele­ton, which uses a lu­bri­ca­tion-free es­cape­ment like that of the ID One. An in­trigu­ing fea­ture of the time­piece is a cen­tral carousel tour­bil­lon that cir­cles the dial ev­ery minute, a vis­ual ef­fect en­hanced by its skele­ton­i­sa­tion. The dial is com­pletely see-through, ex­cept for the base plate of the 9461 MC move­ment—an ex­treme ex­am­ple of open­work with just two over­sized Ro­man nu­mer­als at six and 12 o’clock, and a thin bar at three o’clock an­chor­ing the move­ment. Much of the 47mm case is empty, which gives the im­pres­sion of the tour­bil­lon car­riage or­bit­ing in space. The ti­ta­nium bridges are vis­i­ble from the back.

Cartier pushes the lim­its in aes­thet­ics and takes its open­work style to another level with its re­cently is­sued skele­tonised ver­sion of the unique, un­evenly shaped Crash watch it cre­ated in 1967 af­ter a col­lec­tor took his watch, bent out of shape in an ac­ci­dent, to Jean-jac­ques Cartier for re­pair. Sym­bol­is­ing non-con­form­ist, cre­ative free­dom, the Crash watch was Cartier’s way of over­turn­ing con­ven­tion and in­tro­duc­ing a touch of hu­mour to watch­mak­ing. The new Crash Skele­ton, which fea­tures the hand-wound cal­i­bre 9618 MC in an open­work Ro­man nu­meral dial, is con­sid­ered quite a feat, as it was a very chal­leng­ing task to re­work the move­ment to fit the asym­met­ri­cal case.

Cartier has achieved much on the jew­ellery side as well with the Pasha de Cartier watches, in which the move­ment bridges are formed in the shape of myth­i­cal crea­tures such as a dragon or the brand’s sig­na­ture fe­line, the pan­ther. The bridges and hol­lowed main plates are fully set with di­a­monds and coloured stones, and, like the rest of the high­lighted time­pieces, fea­ture a del­i­cate con­fig­u­ra­tion that has yet to be repli­cated by any other watch­maker.

SYM­BOL­IS­ING NON-CON­FORM­IST, CRE­ATIVE FREE­DOM, THE CRASH WATCH WAS CARTIER’S WAY OF OVER­TURN­ING CON­VEN­TION

face value The Crash Skele­ton watch (be­low) was one of the ex­quis­ite time­pieces high­lighted at the Cartier ex­hi­bi­tion

new ground Cartier has as­serted its ex­per­tise in skele­ton move­ments in re­cent years by cre­at­ing new styles of open­work

The Ro­tonde de Cartier Astro­tour­bil­lon Skele­ton has a rev­o­lu­tion­ary lu­bri­ca­tion-free es­cape­ment

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