The Collection Priveé 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.
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.
The Wandering Hours Complication
It is believed that the wandering hours complication was first used on a night clock designed for Pope Alexander XII in 1656 by the Campani brothers, a well-known family of clockmakers in Rome. The insomniac pope requested the ability to read time in the dark, so an oil lamp was placed inside the clock case, illuminating the dial and allowing him to read the time through the open-worked numerals. The concept was briefly translated to pocket watches but was supplanted by the two-hand method of displaying the time.
In modern times, the wandering hours complication was reinterpreted by a handful of watchmakers, including Cartier. With most wandering hour watches, a central disc displaying the hours rotates around the dial, while the minutes are shown on an accompanying arc. This Cartier reference 2554 puts its own spin on this classic complication, as the hours are shown through an aperture, with the minutes being indicated by a more traditional hand.
The case follows the classic lines of the original Tank from 1917, which was inspired by the Renault tanks which Louis Cartier saw in use on the Western Front. The polished bezel features an arched shape, sloping down as it reaches the extremities of the case. It is secured in place by four screws on each corner, which give it a distinctive appearance, setting it apart from other designs.
The top portion of the lugs are also polished and gently slope towards, resulting in a rounded and elegant profile. The sides of the case are brushed, which also creates an interesting interplay of textures, with a sapphire cabochon bringing a touch of colour. The case measures 28mm by 32mm, with a lug to lug length of 40mm. This allows the watch to remain classic in appearance, whilst also being suited to contemporary tastes. At 8mm in thickness, it also manages to maintain some presence on the wrist and easily fits under the cuff of a shirt.
The silver dial of this reference 2554 features a central rose pattern that radiates into a more traditional guilloché pattern. Evidence suggests that the inspiration for this central rose came from vintage Cartier clocks, which often featured the distinctive decoration. The dial also displays painted Arabic numerals, a blued steel minute hand, and two separate, semi-curved hour and date discs.
Unusually, the date disc at the six o'clock position uses a vertically stacked system - read top to bottom - instead of the more commonly found date disc, which reads left to right. Each number alternates from black to grey, adding some variety to the numerals. Meanwhile, a rectangular railroad track style decoration runs around the center of the watch.
This reference 2554 is powered by the calibre 9902 MC, which is based on a Piaget ébauche. Piaget helped develop a range of calibres for the Collection Privée Cartier Collection, drawing on their mechanical expertise, notably in the field of ultra-thin movements.
The movement is visible through a sapphire caseback, which is decorated with engravings and polished to a very high standard.The calibre 9902 features 24 jewels and notably, a blued-steel adjustment index, the entirety of which is finished with bevelling and anglage.
This Cartier Tank À Vis Ref. 2554 is accompanied by its original white gold deployant buckle and red leather alligator Cartier strap. It comes attached to our Stockholm strap in grey grained leather.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Cartier Tank À Vis Ref. 2554 will be subject to 20% VAT. Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.