A Tonneau for the 21st Century: The Cartier Privé Collection

Cartier has a long and distinguished history as a watchmaker of dabbling outside the confines of the traditional round watch case, at times with iconic results such as the emblematic Tank and Santos models. At the upcoming SIHH watch salon in Geneva, the French master jeweler and watch design pioneer revives another early 20th-century shaped model that went on to become hugely influential, its 1906 Tonneau, in the new Cartier Privé line.

Cartier Privé Collection
Cartier Privé Collection

The Cartier Privé collection kicks off with two versions, one a classically elegant two-handed timekeeper, the other a skeletonized dual-time piece. Hearkening back to the original 1906 watch — which was cased in platinum rather than more common gold and featured wrist-hugging curves and vis armurier (or “gunsmith”-style) tube screws to fasten the lugs — the Privé case is double bracketed, with an oblong, curved shape engineered to follow the contours of the wrist. The bezel of the two-hand Tonneau model is formed from a single block of either rose gold or platinum and boasts, according to Cartier, “no overhangs or breaks in the plane” of its surface. The winding crown is topped off with a cabochon in classic Cartier style. The dial — Champagne-colored on the rose-gold watch, silvered on the platinum — features polished, rhodium-plated applied Roman numerals and a vintage-style railtrack minutes scale. Both versions of the Tonneau have alligator leather straps, gray with the platinum, brown with the gold, and are outfitted with Cartier’s new Caliber 1917, a manual-winder with a 38-hour power reserve. The platinum watch is limited to 100 pieces.

Cartier Prive Tonneau - Platinum
Cartier Privé Tonneau in Platinum (above) and rose gold (below)
Cartier Privé Tonneau - RG
The case has wrist-hugging curves and a cabochon-set crown.

The other, more horologically complex version of the Privé is essentially an update of 2006’s Tonneau XL dual time model that hailed from Cartier’s Paris Collection. Like that watch, this one hosts two separate mechanisms to indicate home time and the time in a second time zone, here incorporated into s single movement, Cartier’s Caliber 9919 MC. This movement represents a technical achievement in several respects, with its linear-oriented gear train, with wheels aligned between 5 and 12 o’clock, designed to maintain the integrity of the case shape; the curved contours of the movement itself; and the angled cutting on the gear train’s barrel and escapement wheel.

Cartier Privé Skeleton - RG - front
The Cartier Privé Skeleton Dual Time Zone in rose gold

The movement architecture also links the two time zone displays in a way that is meant to be both utilitarian and aesthetically pleasing: a separate unconventionally shaped subdial for each, swept over by Cartier’s familiar blued sword hands, mounted on the skeletonized bridges. Cartier struts its watchmaking stuff with this manually winding caliber, which has been openworked to bring, says Cartier, “lightness and nobility to a traditional complication,” and which allows the wearer to easily set the second time zone in one-hour jumps by pressing the additional crown at 4 o’clock. Fully wound, Caliber 9919 MC (the initials are for “Manufacture Cartier”) amasses a power reserve of 60 hours.

Cartier Privé Skeleton - RG - back
The movement in the Cartier Privé Skeleton Dual Time Zone has a vertically aligned gear train.

Both the rose gold and platinum versions of the Privé Skeleton Dual Time Zone are offered in limited, numbered editions of 100 pieces, while an additional 20 numbered pieces will be available in baguette-cut diamond-set platinum. U.S. prices for the new collection will be announced at SIHH 2019.

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  1. Randy Rogers

    After the initial purloining of Eva Luebe’s Baguette Tank, they shamelessly move to a Tonneau, it’s still the work of another!

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