Anyone who has carved the snow on skis, hugged a turn’s line in a sports car, or caressed the slope of a woman’s back will appreciate the curves in the Clé de Cartier. Cartier’s iconic march of shapes, from Santos to Tank to Rontonde, arrives at a new simplicity of innovation, design and form.
The hard lines of geometry and sharp edges found in many watches disappear, and this watch introduces an ‘elegance of smooth.’ The new Clé de Cartier, literally key, named for the shape of the crown, unlocks a svelte combination of gentle slopes and swooping curves based on the inspiration of a perfect circle.
The bezel is rounded, the lugs are tapered, and even the 40mm case (in white or pink gold, on bracelet or leather strap, with or without diamonds) bends in supplication, fitting the wrist like an embrace. Does one wear the Clé de Cartier or is one held by it, at once transfixed and ensnared?
The mesmerizing circles within circles, from bezel to dial to the dial’s center, draw the eye. The sunburst circle at center dial encapsulates the hour hand, company name “Cartier,” and movement designation “Automatic.” At the bottom of this center circle is a date window at 6 o’clock, which also resembles the shoulder coming from the bow (the sunburst inner circle) of a key. The sapphire tip of the crown, set flush to the metal, defines the color scheme, and the markings on the dial and the hands echo this same swath of blue. The bold, legible Roman numerals sit beneath a chapter ring of incremental batons, and the hypnotic layout of the dial presents time in a concise manner.
The new in-house Caliber 1847 MC succeeds in the design challenge of fitting inside the case’s arc. The name of the movement is significant in that the numerals are the date of Cartier’s founding or the date of the Maison’s Creation, MC. The automatic movement’s dual direction winding supplies 42 hours of power, which is transferred from a rapid barrel and uses what the company calls, “a specially conceived lever system.” From the transparent caseback, the movement is decorated in a Vagues de Genève pattern, which is a wave-like pattern that is distinct from the straight or circular stripes of Côtes de Genève.
Turning the key of the crown will wind the watch and recalls a time when keys were used to wind clocks. The size of this novel crown makes it easy to extend, twist and replace. With each turn of the crown, a soft clicking confirms the movement’s acquiescence.
The thorough simplicity of the Clé de Cartier creates a love affair with its appearance, construction and design.