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 Crash 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.
All the Collection Privée Cartier Paris - or CPCP for short - pieces housed high-quality mechanical movements, at a time when the jeweller was mostly associated with quartz. Not possessing the mechanical knowledge in-house, Cartier relied on a range of external suppliers, such as Jaeger-LeCoultre, Frédéric Piguet, Piaget or THA Ébauche - a collaborative movement manufacture between Vianney Halter, Denis Flageollet and François-Paul Journe.
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 movements, these were finished in-house by Cartier, with their interlaced “double C” pattern appearing across the collection.
Despite the brand’s global reach at the time, the Collection Privée models were produced in small quantities, with many explicitly limited to 50, 100 or 150 pieces. As for those that weren’t marked as part of a numbered series, evidence suggests that production often remained between 200 to 500 pieces. Eventually, partially due to difficulties and delays in getting parts from their various suppliers, the CPCP program came to an end.
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, such as a minute repeater or a monopusher chronograph, both of which were unusual for the early 20th century.
Years later, the Tortue design became a core pillar of the Collection Privée Cartier Paris. In fact, the Tortue was the best-selling Collection Privée model in 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005 – half the time the range was available. A range of different complications were integrated into the distinctive case, from a perpetual calendar to a monopusher chronograph.
A Classic Design
This Cartier Tortue "Grand Modele" Ref. 2763H is encased in rose gold, and overall, it has a beautifully classic look that is reminiscent of the original Tortue models from 1912. The dial is decorated with traditional guilloché, which features a central rose motif that radiates outwards, a vintage design element that supposedly came from vintage Cartier cocks, which often featured the decoration, and which gives the dial a captivating sense of texture and depth. Meanwhile, the heat-blued, Breguet-style hands provide a touch of colour to the otherwise monochromatic dial, simultaneously improving legibility.
A running rail track and Roman numerals are stamped directly onto the dial in black ink, adapting to the shape of the case. As is typical of pieces from the CPCP collection, the dial is signed “Cartier Paris” at 12 o’clock, a nod to some pieces from the early 20th century, where the city’s name was inscribed just below the brand. A secret signature can also be seen hidden within the 7 o’clock index marker, which can be found on most Cartier pieces. At a width of 37mm, this classic piece manages to hold its own as a modern-sized watch which is suited to contemporary tastes.
Manufactured and assembled at the Cartier manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the calibre 9601 MC is a manually wound movement that is fitted with 20 jewels and has a 40-hour power reserve. Originally based on the self-winding 8000MC movement, the first movement developed for Cartier by JLC, the 9601MC is distinguished by its attractive finishing, which can be seen through the sapphire caseback.
The movement is decorated with an intertwined C-pattern, while the bridges are hand-chamfered and bevelled. One of the lower right wheels has a stylised C attached, which is heat-blued and provides a visual contrast to the rest of the movement.
This Cartier Tortue 2763H comes with its original outer box, inner box, manual and a stamped Certificate of Authenticity. Included is a bespoke taupe grained calfskin strap and the original rose gold Cartier buckle. The watch was serviced by Cartier in September 2021, and is accompanied by its servicing paperwork (highlighting the complete service, case polishing and replacement of the front crystal).
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Cartier Tortue 2763H will be subject to 20% VAT.