One may choose to view them from two converging angles. Either they are jewellery watches, or they are jewellery creations that tell the time. A domain lying at the very confluence of the two professions cultivated by the Maison, the watchmaking aspect of Cartier High Jewelry was one of the discreet stars at the SIHH. While there were no press kits about it or any particular presentations on the theme for journalists, two large banks of windows on the Cartier booth certainly attracted a lot of attention. Judging by the wide-open eyes filing past the displays, there was nothing ordinary about their content. And also judging by the many half-shut eyes, whatever was in there was dazzlingly bright.

The sheer breadth of the range symbolises Cartier’s sheer firepower. Every year, there are more than 30 models. Mainly consisting of one-of-a-kind creations, this High Jewellery watch collection alternates between animal themes, art deco geometry and wildly creative designs. Most of them have no name, simply a description and a reference number. They are best described by their appearance. While the precious stones adorning them are often significant, they are not the only focal point of these creations. The role of High Jewellery is to transcend them through imagination and poetry, whether the object in question is a ring, necklace or watch.

 

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Parrot motif watch in white gold and diamonds with emerald eyes, mother-of-pearl beak. © WorldTempus / David Chokron

The Panthère was in the spotlight this year, as indeed it was across the rest of Cartier’s collections, but it was not alone. Crocodile, Parrot or totally abstract themes abounded and, over and above the number of carats, it was the amazing diversity of the range that was most striking. It should be mentioned that many of the models from the Fine Watchmaking collections were offered in versions with cases adorned with baguette-cut diamonds, or a completely gem-set bracelet. Aside from these creations in which the horological complication takes a backstage role behind the glittering stones, other models are equipped with mechanical movements. But it is nonetheless quartz that reigns supreme over these exceptional pieces: small, easy to use, these battery-powered movements are perfectly adapted to one of Cartier’s favourite concepts: the secret hour watch.

 

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Ecaille de Serpent secret hour watch in white gold, diamonds and emeralds set with three hexagonal emeralds totalling 16 carats. © WorldTempus / David Chokron