Part of the Collection Privée Cartier Paris, this yellow gold Cartier Monopoussoir combines an elegantly shaped tonneau case with a beautiful, hand-finished dial and similarly decorated movement, visible through a sapphire caseback.
The Collection Privée Cartier Paris
In the last decade of the 20th century, the industry was still recovering from the impact of the quartz crisis, with consumers just starting to redevelop an interest in mechanical watches. In the midst of this, Cartier aimed to reestablish its credibility as a true watchmaking manufacture. From 1998 to 2008, the Collection Privée Cartier Paris brought back some of the most iconic Cartier designs from the past century, from the Tortue to the Tank Cintrée, combined with high quality mechanical movements. In many cases, these distinctive designs hadn’t been produced for decades, speaking to the jeweller’s desire to place an increased focus on its heritage.
As a series of mechanical watches based on historic Cartier designs, the Collection Privée Cartier Paris - or CPCP for short - showed watch connoisseurs what Cartier was capable of producing at a time when the brand was more known for producing quartz-based timepieces. Most models in the CPCP were designed for the men's market and were available between 1998 and 2008 in very limited numbers using mechanical movements from external suppliers, until the Fine Watchmaking Collection was introduced using movements developed in-house.
All the Collection Privée Cartier Paris watches feature small, distinctive details, intended to set them apart. With the exception of the Cintrée, all of them are signed “Cartier Paris” on the dial, a subtle nod to their vintage pieces. They also display a central rose motif just beneath the hands, which radiates into a classic guilloché. Even the subtle engravings on the caseback are reminiscent of what they used to do in the early 20th century. As for the manual-winding movements, these were finished in-house by Cartier, with their interlaced “double C” pattern appearing across the collection.
A product of collaboration
First launched in 1912, the Tortue was the third wristwatch ever designed by Cartier, surprisingly predating the Tank by a handful of years. Inspired by the shape of a tortoiseshell, it was initially introduced as a time-only piece, though the French jeweller rapidly ventured into creating more complicated versions of the design. This Monopoussoir was introduced in 1998, in the year that the Collection Privée was launched.
A reference point in the history of modern watchmaking, the Calibre 045MC that powers the Tortue Monopoussoir was produced by THA Èbauche. Founded in 1996, THA was a collaborative movement manufacture by Vianney Halter, Denis Flageollet, the founder of De Bethune, and François-Paul Journe, before their respective brands became household names. With this illustrious collection of watchmakers involved, there is little surprise that the Calibre 045MC is both technically and visually impressive. Reminiscing on the collaboration during a recent interview, Dennis Flageollet said,
"We were young, we had no doubts and we created incredible objects together that would be difficult to make today."
Having worked closely with the jeweller on some other projects, the watchmakers suggested the project to Cartier, on the basis of re-creating a monopusher chronograph from the 1920s. According to Flageollet, the heads of product at Cartier at the time did not have extensive knowledge of their heritage, yet the watchmakers behind THA Èbauche felt compelled to realise the project.
This configuration of the Monopoussoir is understood to be the earliest one introduced by Cartier, hence its more classic case size and metal, as well as the traditional design of the dial. Amongst all the pieces produced by Cartier, it most closely resembles the original design, from the early 20th century.
It has two sub-dials, the first showing the watches running seconds, whilst the other is used as a 30 minute chronograph timer. A railroad minute track surrounds the outer section of the dial, which echoes the design of the subdial borders and provides a contrast to the white guilloché dial. The subdials, outer minute track and Breguet-style Roman numerals are rendered in dark black ink, whilst the blued steel hands add a touch of colour.
As is to be expected, the dial is signed “Cartier Paris” at 12 o’clock, a nod to some pieces from the early 20th century, which had the city’s name inscribed below the brand. The dial is made out of 18 carat gold, featuring a central rose motif just beneath the hands, which radiates into a traditional guilloché. Evidence suggests that the inspiration for this central rose came from vintage Cartier clocks, which often featured the distinctive decoration. The rail track and Roman numerals are stamped directly onto the dial in black ink, whilst the blued steel hands are executed in a legible Breguet-styled shape.
The two part Tortue case has elegant, curved lines, with polished surfaces found throughout. It measures 34mm by 33mm, with a lug to lug length of 43mm. This allows the watch to remain classic in appearance, whilst also being suited to contemporary tastes. At 10mm in thickness, it also manages to maintain some presence on the wrist and easily fits under the cuff of a shirt.
This reference 2356 is powered by the calibre 045MC, a movement developed by F.P. Journe, Denis Flageollet, and Vianney Halter as part of THA Èbauche, a collaborative movement manufacture. The calibre 045MC has a lever escapement and the balance beats at 21,600 A/h.
Using a clutch system, the motion of the second wheel of the base movement to the chronograph’s central wheel in the Calibre 045MC is activated by a double swivel pin, removing the ‘jolt’ of the seconds hand that often takes place in chronographs operated by a lateral clutch. The resulting smooth operation of the hand gliding across the dial is as beautiful as the movement itself, finished to with bevelling and anglage, which is visible through an ellipse sapphire exhibition case back.
Monopoussoir Ref. 2356 is accompanied by a
bespoke taupe grained leather strap, along with the original red alligator Cartier strap and corresponding yellow gold deployant buckle.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this
Monopoussoir Ref. 2356 will be subject to 20% VAT. Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.