This year is most certainly an unusual year for us all. Due to the necessary measures and precautions needed in light of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Watches & Wonders show (formally SIHH) was cancelled and in place they launched a unique digital version in which the exhibiting brands could still showcase their new collections. This article in which we highlight our top pieces from the brands is part of our Watches & Wonders 2020 roundup. To see more of them, click here.
When It comes to high-end jewellery and luxury watches, few brands stir the emotions as much as Cartier. Every year, the release of its new timepieces never fails to surprise and enchant. At the all-digital 2020 Watches & Wonders event, the horology house delivered yet again, with fresh takes on its Pasha de Cartier, Santos de Cartier, Santos-Dumont, Maillon de Cartier and Cartier Privé Tank Asymétrique designs.
Never shy of pushing boundaries and standing out from the crowd – for all the right reasons, may we add – Cartier has always been keen to encourage its designers to combine shapes and ideas that were never intended to meet. It’s this blank-canvas approach that has forged Cartier’s unique style and informs its charmingly enigmatic 2020 collection of ‘Unexpected Encounters’.
The first of this year’s collection from Cartier to make us really sit up and pay attention is the Pasha de Cartier. Its square geometric dial is housed in a bold yet elegant round watch case with a smooth, domed bezel – a timeless design that was first created in 1985 and has since achieved cult status. For 2020, this beautiful and engaging unisex watch has been updated to incorporate interchangeable ergonomic straps, a sapphire-crystal case back and a new, refined crown set with a blue synthetic spinel or sapphire. The Pasha de Cartier would be a very sophisticated choice for the modern watch-lover, in our view.
No Cartier launch worth its salt would be complete without the ever-popular Cartier Santos-Dumont and Santos de Cartier putting in an appearance. Created in 1904 by company founder Louis Cartier for his friend, the aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, the timepieces allowed the wearer, freed from the constraints of a cumbersome pocket watch, to read the time mid-flight. Widely regarded as the world’s first men’s wristwatch, the Cartier Santos-Dumont, like the Santos De Cartier, has a square bezel with visible screws framing the outside. That instantly recognisable shape and purity of design is still in evidence today, albeit updated for the modern watch wearer, whether he’s in the air or on terra firma.
The all-new Santos-Dumont XL is set to be one of the brand’s true statement pieces, benefiting as it does from a completely reworked design and bigger dimensions. Not only is this version mechanical, but it features a contoured case, taut lines and unadorned elegance of the iconic original is enhanced in this extra-large size. On the wrist, it’s wide, generous and impactful. Presented in an alluring pink-gold case and adorned with sword-shaped hands and a beaded winding crown, this is a real head-turner.
There’s a new, all-black large version of the Santos de Cartier, too, with a 47.5 x 39.8mm case that has a relatively slim depth of 9.38mm. It’s available in both steel with ADLC Bezel and an all ADLC case (that is, amorphous diamond-like carbon), has a crown set with a black faceted synthetic spinel, and is presented on an interchangeable black rubber and alligator-leather strap. We’re already fans of its stealthy good looks.
One of the most eye-catching designs launched at Watches & Wonders 2020 was the Maillon de Cartier. This opulent timepiece combines an Art Deco feel with an ultra-modern, ultra-feminine elegance. Its hexagonal dial and geometric, twisted-effect chain-link bracelet work in harmony to deliver a striking wristwatch that will pass the test of time.
And, finally, there’s the Cartier Privé Tank Asymétrique– an update of yet another Cartier icon. Back in 1917, the original design was inspired by the shape of a First World War tank viewed from the air. Making a rectangular watch was a bold move because, at that time, most timepieces were round. Louis Cartier’s gamble paid off and the Tank went through multiple incarnations until, in 1936, a 30⁰ shift of all its elements, including dial details and the case itself, resulted in the Asymétrique. Today, the watch is available in pink gold with a grey dial and grey strap, yellow gold with a champagne dial and brown strap, and in platinum with a silver-coloured dial, a ruby cabochon and a grey strap. Each version comes in a limited edition of 100.
As we’re sure you’ll agree, Cartier have yet again delivered a full, varied and truly astonishing selection of luxurious design-led pieces for 2020. We hope you’ll make yourself much more familiar with these ‘Unexpected Encounters’ by admiring them at Watches Of Switzerland UK, Watches Of Switzerland US, Mappin & Webb and Goldsmiths.