An exhibition of Cartier treasures will be on display at the Palace Museum in Beijing September 5 – November 22. The exhibition includes more than 350 items, including archives dating from the founding of Cartier to its creations from the 1970s. Partly dedicated to royal jewels, the exhibition will be housed in China’s former Imperial Palace and will be illustrated by historical documents relating to European royal courts, which earned Cartier thanks to King Edward VII of England, its reputation as the “Jeweller of Kings and King of Jewellers”.
Some of the items selected highlight the Chinese influence on Cartier creations: lacquer ware inlaid with mother-of-pearl, ancient carved and engraved pieces of jade, and divinities and fantastic animals created by the jeweller’s hand. These creations represent the bonds that have existed between Cartier and the Far East since the beginning of the 20th century. The distinctive creativity, style and expertise of the jeweller are illustrated by a selection of drawings and archive documents, together with a set of rarely displayed plaster casts from the Cartier archives.
Chimera Mystery Clock
Cartier New York, 1926
Agate (Chimera), nephrite (waves)
Red and black enamel
Transmission axle masked by a carved coral-coloured piece beneath the chimeras.
Hand-setting and winding mechanism underneath the base.
Rectangular 8-day movement, gold-plated, 15 jewels, bimetallic balance, Breguet balance spring. Transmission axle masked a carved piece of coral beneath the chimeras. Hand-setting and winding mechanism underneath the base.
The agate chimera, of Chinese origin, dates from the 19th century. This mystery clock was the 6th in a series of 12 that featured animals or figurines, made between 1922 and 1931, partly inspired by Louis XV and Louis XVI clocks in which the movement was set on the back of an animal. Today they are considered, with the Portique Mystery clocks, the most valuable of all collectors’ items with the Cartier signature.
Large Portique Mystery Clock
Cartier Paris, 1923
Rock crystal dial, columns and Biliken figure
Coral cabochons, onyx
Square, 8-day double-barrel movement, gold-plated, 13 jewels, bimetallic balance, Breguet balance spring. Transmission axle in rock-crystal crossbar masked by coral cabochon. Billiken ﬁgure removable to provide access to the movement. Arbor for winding movement and setting hands.
This clock was the first in a series of 6 in the form of a Shinto “shrine gate” (portique), all different and all made by Cartier between 1923 and 1925.
Cartier Paris, 1915
Three pear-shaped diamonds, old-cut diamonds
Onyx spots and slider
Double black cord
Rectangular LeCoultre caliber 111 movement with cut corners, fausses Côtes de Genève decoration, silver-plated, 8 adjustments, 19 jewels, Swiss lever escapement, bimetallic balance, flat balance spring.