Marquetry is the art of applying carefully cut and often tiny pieces of wood veneer (and other materials) to an underlying structure to form a decorative image or pattern. At the highest levels, the craft requires an artist’s eye, deep knowledge of the selected woods, and a steady hand to execute the fine cuts. The Rotonde de Cartier with bear motif combines marquetry and watchmaking to produce a limited series of uniquely artistic timepieces.
Everything begins with the design, which inspires the marquetry craftsman to select each wood for its color, grain and texture. Ten species of natural European wood blend together to create the bear’s fur: holly, chestnut, poplar, willow, grey and pink maple, walnut and burr walnut, mottled maple and grey aningeria. The woods are deftly combined to create the illusion of depth and perspective through reflections and contrasts. Tiny details, such as hair-thin lines representing shadows, add a lifelike quality.
Numerous steps and an investment of over 160 hours of work per dial assure that each piece is perfect, and unique.
The 42mm watch case is rendered in white gold and the timekeeping is handled by a manual winding Calibre 9905 MC with jumping hours.
The Rotonde de Cartier with bear motif will be produced in a limited series of 50 pieces, priced at $80,500. The watch image below may be enlarged significantly with a click.
Below, a stock of wood selected for its unique characteristics.
The craftsman selects wood to evoke the animal’s fur.
Steady hands are required to saw precisely along the middle of a line 0.13 mm wide to cut out all the elements of the marquetry, from the largest to the smallest, through a thickness of ten sheets laid one on top of the other. Here, the craftsman is cutting the grey element that will form the background.
Elements of the dial await assembly.
The finished timepiece is a work of art.