The challenge for Cartier’s watchmakers was to produce a diver’s watch that meets all the eight criteria for legibility and resistance required by the ISO standard 6425 with the familiar design codes of the brand.
In the style typical of Carole Forestier Kasapi, who won the best watchmaker award at the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix in 2012, novel approaches have been found for even the most mundane of functions in the Calibre de Cartier Diver. The unidirectional returning bezel, for example, has been designed with 120 teeth to allow adjustment to within half a minute, like that of similar diver’s models. But particular attention has been paid to the sound of its clicks, to make them both more acoustically appealing and at the same time more audible. It is also highly resistant, since it is made of Amorphous Diamond-Like Carbon (ADLC).
Cartier’s signature Roman numerals still feature on the dial, although the luminescent coating is only applied to the hour markers, the oversized XII and the small seconds counter at 6 o’clock, which gives the watch two distinct “faces” – one for daytime and one for night-time. Note also the discreet Cartier signature on one of the bar’s of the X in the 10 o’clock position and the “L Swiss Made L” indication below the small seconds counter to indicate the use of photoluminescent material on the dial. In order to meet the requirements of ISO 6425 the time and running indicator (i.e. the small seconds counter) have to be visible in total darkness at a depth of 25 metres.
A screw-in case back, oversized seals, a screw-in crown (set with a faceted synthetic spinel) and a thick sapphire crystal ensure water resistance to 300 metres. Yet the watch remains astonishingly slender. The case, available in stainless-steel or 18-carat red gold, has the same 42mm diameter as the Calibre de Cartier base model, with its satin-finished surfaces with polished edges, and is a mere 1 millimetre thicker than it. This is an incredible achievement, given that the water resistance of the Calibre de Cartier Diver is ten times that of the base model.
Timekeeping is provided by the first self-winding Cartier movement to be developed and assembled entirely in-house at the manufacture. The 1904 MC calibre pays tribute in its name to the year in which Louis Cartier created one of the very first modern wristwatches for his friend, pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont. Over a century later, the 1904 MC movement sets new standards with a double barrel designed to guarantee a constant mainspring torque over time, a rotor mounted on ceramic ball bearings to provide excellent shock resistance and ensure durability, and a specially developed ratchet system of directional winding that makes the watch quicker and easier to wind.
There are three versions of the Calibre de Cartier Diver available: in steel, red gold or a two-tone version in steel with subtle red-gold accents on the outer edge of the bezel, the crown and the dial. Although the red-gold version would undoubtedly help as ballast for anyone diving down to 300 metres, it remains to be seen whether a gold Calibre de Cartier Diver will ever reach this depth. Nevertheless, the overall package offers a timepiece with proven resistance and robustness that is every bit a Cartier.