9 August 2015
The secret watch: Time for a hint of fantasy
The Cartier name conjures up images of aspiration, wealth, royalty and the finest of jewelry manufacturing. Cartier's wristwatches are no exception. The Tank and Pasha are instantly recognizable the world over. The Cartier dynasty has its beginnings in 1847, in Paris, by Louis-Francois Cartier. Soon thereafter, Cartier was supplying the royal French court. In 1874 Louis-Francois's son Alfred took the reigns and helped to expand the venerable jeweler, adding watches to the distinguished catalog of finery. In 1899, the third generation Cartier, Louis, joined the enterprise. Cartier formed a joint venture with Edward Jaeger - the Jaeger in Jaeger-LeCoultre - to produce movements for Cartier. In addition, Cartier used the movements of other esteemed watch manufacturers including Vacheron Constantin, Audemars-Piguet, and Movado. Cartier continues to produce innovative and stylistic watches and enjoys great popularity around the world.
A glittering diamond-paved panther reclines amid the lush jungle of the dial. The feline is secretly linked to the calibre 9603 MC self-winding Manufacture movement. Its oscillations set the pace of the movement, in keeping with the grand tradition of Cartier watchmaking.
In its collection, Les Heures Fabuleuses, Cartier, which created its first secret dial in 1925, takes the concept to a new level – seductively feminine and luxuriantly extravagant, with a touch of illusion: when is a watch not a watch? When it is a brooch, a pendant or a ring.The Cartier menagerie makes an appearance in the limited edition series, Les Indomptables de Cartier, featuring dials that are intricate works of art. Covering each dial is a removable brooch – a preening peacock with a ruby rose with nephrite jade leaves, a slithering diamond snake, or a lush hanging garden of lotus flowers.
“The secret watch is the ultimate expression of creativity and complexity,” says Nicolas Mohs at Piaget. The Piaget Rose secret watch, part of the Limelight Garden Party collection, highlights the brand’s heritage in jewellery watches.Cartier makes a lot of "secret" watches. That means that something is hiding the time display dial that the wearer must manually reveal.
By design, the Secret Panda watch doesn't look all that much like a watch. The black satin strap forms more of a decorative bracelet than a timepiece. But, pull the little humping panda down and you see a lovely unorthodoxly designed Cartier dial - and even more diamonds. Humpy the panda is really the focal point of the watch. I don't know why, but French luxury brands especially are adept at creating incredibly charming little animals with jewelry coats. That applies to brands such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Boucheron. The black and white with green eyes panda is no exception. Despite being covered in precious stones, the delightful expression of his happy humping face is not at all lost. It is then sometimes hard to stomach the "exclusive" price tag of these pieces meaning that they are strictly for the few to own.