“What makes a Cartier Replica watch different is really the work on shape and design.” This one sentence pretty much sums up the 25 pieces we got to see from Cartier’s official archives, including some of the craziest variations of the iconic Tank. This outstanding lineup also showed how Cartier has managed to continuously re-invent itself over nearly two centuries, with a unique ability to twist a classic and still keep the distinctly elegant vibe that has characterized the French maison since its founding in 1847. But aesthetics are not the only domain in which Cartier turned the horological world upside down; one should not forget where the invention of the deployant buckle came from, nor the countless groundbreaking calibers specifically developed for such inventive cases.
Of course you should watch the video above, but here are closer looks at a few of the incredible replica watches we had the opportunity to handle.
Square Pocket Watch In Platinum
What might look like a simple pocket watch turns out to be a highly technical piece, following the patent application 421746 filed in 1910 by Edmond Jaeger (the previous year he had also protected the principle of the folding buckle on behalf of Cartier, French patent 409891). In the case of this square piece, the glass was held in place through the bezel, itself attached to the case with eight visible screws. Interestingly, the round edges of the square reveal the play on basic geometrical shapes, and already announce some of the later variations we’d see in Tank wristwatches. That it’s solid platinum, with a platinum chain only ups the ante.
The Santos was the very first Cartier wristwatch conceived for men. It was born out of a private order from the adventurous pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont, who wished to read the time without removing his hands from the controls of his plane ( though “flying machine” would probably be a more accurate description of this contraption, given that this happened back in 1904). The Santos was then commercially launched in 1911, and almost identically re-produced in the 1980s, proving how eternal a great design can be.
Original Tank Normale
The Tank Normale is nothing more than its name suggest: the “first” Tank, originally designed for General John Joseph Pershing in 1917 and serially produced in 1919 (in nine examples, all sold almost immediately). The naming convention was adopted to make a distinction with the Tank Louis Cartier, which offered more rounded edges from 1922 onward. Both Tank models play with the stylistic grammar that we know from Cartier, offering a square dial within a rectangular shape. Note that while this example belongs to the early production (its engravings date it to 1938), the Tank Normale was also relaunched in 1973.
The Cartier Baignoire might only have been introduced in 1957, its lines are strongly inspired by a watch that Louis Cartier had gifted to the Russian Grand Duchess Pavlovna, who might have been the very best individual client of Cartier in the early 20th Century. This watch owes its name to its resemblance to a bathtub, or “baignoire” in French (it was only officially called this in 1973, the Baignoire Allongée simply being an oversized version of the regular model). Its dramatically elongated numerals follow the typical Cartier typography, while offering a new take on how to elegantly balance a dial, even if oval-shaped.
While the Cartier Crash is highly reminiscent of The Persistence of Memory painted by Salvador Dali in 1931, its origin story is something else entirely (though maybe apocryphal). Its asymmetric case is said to come from a Baignoire Allongée which had melted after it was worn in a fatal car crash. The watch was brought in to Cartier London for repair and inspired the watch you see here. It could also just be a product of the Swinging Sixties in London, where the Crash first appeared in 1967, powered by a caliber from Jaeger-LeCoultre. Either way, it’s become a true icon, unlike anything else out there.
This Cartier is another model produced by Cartier London in the 1960s. It based on the geometric play between the classical round shape of the case and the lozenge dial. It is nonetheless intrinsically Cartier, from the painted Roman numerals to the cabochon sapphire-set crown. And its pebble-like shape makes it a wonder on the wrist, emphasizing that functionality was never forgotten in the quest of elegant shapes. It is an extremely rare reference with a total production estimated at just six examples.
The Tank Cintrée was unveiled in 1921, elongating the rectangular dimensions of the original Tank (the French word “Cintrée” here could be translated to something like “slimmed down” or “cinched”). The curved case follows the curvature of the wrist too, while its thin profile make it supremely elegant. It is a watch often associated with movie stars, famously worn by Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair. Its slimness though hurt the water resistance, which explains the later introduction of the thicker Tank Américaine in 1989.
Santos With Bracelet
This version of the Cartier Santos is by far the youngest watch from this selection, as evidenced by the screws on its bracelet, a characteristic of the 1978 Santos redesign (although the original Santos remained in production, especially in the Collection Privée Cartier Paris, also known as CPCP by the Cartier aficionados). The “new” Santos maintains the tool watch focus of its predecessor, as evidenced by the primary role of the exposed screws in the construction of its case and bracelet. Its stainless steel body was also a radical departure from the precious metals that Cartier had been consistently using, though the gold bezel and screws in the bracelet add some glitz. Along with the more affordable members of the Must de Cartier family, these pieces introduced Cartier to a new, younger clientele in the 70s and 80s.
For more, visit Cartier online.