Trust the artistry of Cartier watches to bring a touch of magic to the third edition of the Watches & Wonders salon held in Hong Kong this year. The Clé de Cartier collection - unveiled at the SIHH salon in 2015 - appeared in two declinations set out to defy the laws of gravity and reality.
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The Clé de Cartier Mysterious Hour watch was a showstopper and incorporates Cartier’s signature mystery movement, allowing the hour and minute hands to float in space with no visible connection to the movement. The mystery movement was invented by one of Cartier’s watchmakers in 1912 who was fascinated by the clocks of Robert Houdin - the famous French illusionist and father of modern magic. By uniting a mysterious hour complication with the curvaceous case of the new Clé collection, with its distinctive rectangular-shaped crown - a reminder of the days when pocket watches required a key to be wound - the hands on this Cartier watch literally gravitate around the off-centred black dial. But there’s more. The openwork dial with large blue Roman numerals affords a view of the mechanical manual-winding movement and, if you turn the watch over, you will discover a secondary dial on the caseback. Presented in a 41mm case, these luxurious Cartier watches for men will be available in palladium and rose gold.
A tourbillon is a fascinating complication in itself, but if you house it in a white gold case sprinkled with 478 brilliant-cut diamonds, the effect is absolutely hypnotic. The 35mm white gold Clé de Cartier Flying Tourbillon women’s watch is faithful to the original Clé collection and although it has applied diamonds to parts of the crown, the hallmark rectangular-shaped crown glows with a sapphire.
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Also on display at Watches & Wonders was a limited-edition box - only five will be made - containing three grand complications obviously destined to catch the eye of collectors. All three Cartier watches, housed in luxurious 45mm platinum and titanium cases, share gorgeous deep blue enamelled and guillochéd dials and enough complications to last a lifetime.
The Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Double Tourbillon is the apex of watchmaking creativity. The tourbillon literally floats in space bereft of apparent anchorage, just like the hands on the Cartier mystery clocks. Next up is the Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon, which chimes time on demand and, last but not least, a prodigious perpetual calendar complication housed in the Rotonde de Cartier Astrocalendaire, with its original concentric display of the days, months and date, crowned in the centre with ... you guessed it … a flying tourbillon.
Read about Cartier on the list of best men's watches
The Clé de Cartier Mysterious Hour watch is presented in a 41mm palladium case with a sapphire-set crown and is equipped with manual-winding Cartier Calibre 9981MC. Laziz Hamani © Cartier
This 35mm white gold Clé de Cartier Flying Tourbillon ladies' watch marries the luxury of a diamond-set case with the fascination of a flying tourbillon. Vincent Wulveryck © Cartier
The Rotonde de Cartier Astrocalendaire complication is endowed with a perpetual calendar and an original concentric display of the days, months and date, and of course a flying tourbillon, and comes in a 45mm palladium case. Vincent Wulveryck © Cartier
The limited edition Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Double Tourbillon literally allows the tourbillon to float in space, bereft of apparent anchorage, just like the hands on the Cartier mystery clocks. The watch is presented in a 45mm palladium case. Vincent Wulveryck © Cartier
The limited edition Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon chimes time on demand and features a flying tourbillon at 12 o'clock, all animated by manual-winding Cartier Calibre 9402 MC and presented in a 45mm titanium case. Vincent Wulveryck © Cartier
Produced in a limited, numbered edition of just five pieces - the three Rotonde de Cartier complications are presented in a box and share beautiful deep blue enamel dials with a guilloché decoration.
Clé de Cartier Mysterious Hour watch with a mystery movement, allowing the hour and minute hands to float in space. Laziz Hamani © Cartier