Les Heures Fabuleuses de Cartier collection of jewellery watches was one of the highlights of my visit to the SIHH 2013, or Salon Internationale de la Haute Horlogerie, in Geneva. So much more than just jewellery watches, Les Heures Fabuleuses consists of no less than 41 creations that are an extravagant expression of creativity, delight, playfulness and ingenuity. Each watch holds a special secret, from a diamond-coiled serpent that slips off the face of a watch so it may be worn as a brooch to a parrot ring that swivels its diamond-set head to reveal a dial.
The animals regularly associated with Cartier, including, of course, the panther, snake and tropical birds, are present as well as more unusual creatures such as turtles and even little frogs. We see a young panther cub mischievously clambering up a baguette-diamond bracelet, her pelt resplendent in shimmering diamonds. Her little paws are curled around the bracelet as she pulls herself up to peep out at the world through her emerald-green eyes, her tail curling in delight. An elephant proudly marches across the dial of a pocket watch, his trunk waving triumphantly in the air.
My favourite is the 'Les Indomitables de Cartier' watch. As richly detailed as any Cartier haute joaillerie creation, a diamond and moonstone frog quietly crouches on a lush, green lotus leaf above a pond of koi carp, surrounded by precious flowers. The frog and his surrounding flora can be detached and worn as a brooch, leaving a watch dial that is a beautiful miniature painting of soft brush strokes, punctuated by floating diamond and pink sapphire lotus flowers and green enamel leaves. Serenity and precision come together in this very unusual creation, which, in true Cartier style, is slightly eccentric and delighfully indulgent.