During the last 20 years, Cartier has developed and launched an in depth vary of high-end males’s watches: these included the Assortment Privée Cartier Paris (CPCP) from 1998 till 2008 adopted by the Superb Watch Making Assortment (FWM) that was in existence from 2008 till 2018.
Each sequence got here silently to an finish, leaving many collectors with one burning query: why?
We regularly obtain questions on these sequence so right here I’ll clarify the variations in these two traces, why they had been ended, and what might be subsequent.
Whereas the Assortment Privée Cartier Paris was the definitive illustration of a time of forgotten magnificence, the Superb Watch Making Assortment, regardless of its extraordinarily top quality and ending, turned top-of-the-line examples of a catastrophe within the pattern of pretentious haute horlogerie of the final decade.
Assortment Privée Cartier Paris (CPCP): 1998-2008
Launched on the SIHH in 1998, the Assortment Privée Cartier Paris (CPCP) was focused primarily at males at a time when males had been changing into decidedly extra conscious of their watches, main them to demand timepieces with superb mechanical calibers.
In reply to that, Cartier created this particular sequence through which most of Louis Cartier’s biggest designs discovered a spot: these included Santos Dumont, Tortue, Tonneau, Tank Louis Cartier, Tank Basculante, Tank Asymétrique, the Cloche, and others.
Later, the Pasha and the Rotonde fashions with barely extra difficult calibers had been added to the gathering.
Cartier labored with Jaeger-LeCoultre, Frédéric Piguet, Piaget, Girard-Perregaux, APRP Renaud et Papi, and others to get – or create – the very best actions out there for these watches. Nearly all of the CPCP timepieces had been launched in barely larger instances than Cartier was identified for to make them extra masculine and wearable within the trendy age, which at the moment was dominated by bigger case sizes.
Lovely particulars from the late 1920s got here again to spotlight the texture of the gathering: the rosette in the midst of the dial, the phrase “Paris” beneath the model identify, and refined engravings on the again all performed their components. These particulars had been extremely appreciated by collectors.
Additionally, I might be remiss if I didn’t point out options like faceted crystal and the reissue of a vintage-style buckle, which was developed initially by Louis Cartier and Edmond Jaeger for the Santos Dumont in 1913.
Among the fashions had been launched in restricted editions of simply 100 items, whereas different non-limited watches in runs of not more than 200 to 250 items. That is additionally one of many the reason why so few of those Assortment Privée Cartier Paris fashions are seen right this moment at auctions.
Whereas the Assortment Privée Cartier Paris line was a lot appreciated and even exhausting to seek out when the fashions had been freshly launched, two components made Cartier change its imaginative and prescient and plan for the sequence.
First, demand for “in-house” calibers turned stronger and, second, the problem of getting the watches delivered in time turned a major problem.
Actions got here from varied third-party suppliers; instances had been supplied by completely different case makers; and different elements of the so-called habillage such because the fingers and crystal had been additionally delivered by varied suppliers. As you possibly can think about, not all the things was all the time delivered on time, inflicting bottlenecks.
Since a variety of completely different suppliers had been concerned within the manufacturing of the Assortment Privée Cartier Paris fashions, and the meeting additionally happened at workshops in varied areas, the entire course of was fairly complicated.
As a way to have full management over the manufacturing course of, there was just one resolution: to supply all the things in home below one roof. However Cartier didn’t have a real manufacture . . . but.
Throughout the lifespan of Assortment Privée Cartier Paris, the model was working exhausting on realizing a 30,000-square-meter manufacture situated in La Chaux-de-Fonds in addition to constructing out its workshop in Geneva. The latter was a lot smaller, but equally necessary as it could permit Cartier to create actions made in response to the Geneva Seal.
Cartier’s Superb Watch Making Assortment (FWM): 2008-2018
When the primary items of the Superb Watchmaking Assortment had been offered with nice ceremony on the 2008 SIHH, Assortment Privée Cartier Paris slipped silently into oblivion.
The Superb Watch Making assortment had landed, and that didn’t go unnoticed amongst these passionate in regards to the model. The primary watch from this new assortment proven to the worldwide press was a Ballon Bleu Flying Tourbillon with the model new in-house 9452 MC hand-wound motion bearing the Geneva Seal, adopted by a sequence of very daring masculine tourbillon watches.
All these watches featured the identical 9452 MC flying tourbillon caliber in-built Cartier’s new Geneva workshops. The difficulty, nonetheless, was that Caliber 9452MC has a comparatively small diameter, one that might simply have match a traditional 38 mm watch.
However Cartier took the hyped pattern for big watches – burning hotly in 2008 – a bit too actually and offered the brand new caliber within the largest instances the model ever created.
The Ballon Bleu Flying Tourbillon got here in a 47 mm case, the Santos 100 Tourbillon in a 46.5 x 54.9 mm case, the Calibre de Cartier Tourbillon in a spherical 45 mm case, and the Tank Americaine in a 35.eight x 52 mm case. To make issues even worse, the again of those watches featured a spherical inspection window to view the gorgeous, however small, caliber that was surrounded by plenty of empty area.
These tourbillon watches fashioned a really modern lineup as an alternative of a critical entry into the world of haute horlogerie. When you think about that every of those watches carried a “cheap” price ticket of round $95,000, their launch was exhausting to take actually critically.
The ending of the calibers, and these watches on the whole, was excellent, however there was not any hint of the attractive and discrete particulars that made Assortment Privée Cartier Paris watches so common.
As an alternative of a small engraving on the again of the watch with the model identify and the variety of the watch that the CPCP watches had, most FWM fashions had been simply loud with a big “CARTIER” engraving on the case again adopted by a big case and motion quantity.
One other concern was that Cartier numbered the actions and the instances individually. Because the model used the identical motion in several fashions, the answer offered an issue for collectors: you may be fortunate sufficient to have discovered that quantity eight you desired as a case quantity, however the motion might need been quantity 1653 – loudly displayed in massive font.
This made no sense to collectors, particularly for the reason that motion quantity was for inner use solely and may have been added in a very small, nearly invisible spot.
The double numbering was foolish and didn’t assist to make the watches sexier and extra fascinating. Any eye for element appeared utterly misplaced, and it appeared very similar to “La Maison” was concentrating fully on tendencies and associated expertise – and not on particulars and the wealthy historical past that made its watches so fascinating previously.
In that respect, Cartier has not realized a factor from its Assortment Privée Cartier Paris sequence and the clientele that was so enthusiastic about these watches.
Some watches should be massive due to the scale of the motion or if the watch is difficult and wishes sufficient room on the dial to showcase its capabilities, however that was not the case with these first tourbillon fashions.
By 2014 Cartier proved it may right when it launched a 39 mm Ballon Bleu Flying Tourbillon, a watch that had all the things proper despite the fact that it was powered by the identical caliber as its 47 mm sibling.
Throughout the lifespan of the Superb Watch Making sequence, some thrilling watches had been launched just like the mystery watches and the Crash Skeleton that was bought out in a number of weeks.
Sadly, Cartier launched the gorgeous skeleton idea not simply in a number of watches, however in nearly each mannequin within the assortment, additionally providing them in varied golds and since 2018 even in metal. The variety of skeleton fashions was simply overwhelming, thereby diluting the eye that this great-looking complication so significantly deserved.
Throughout the ten years of the Superb Watch Making assortment, Cartier launched superb issues within the Rotonde line together with the Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon, the Rotonde de Cartier Earth and Moon, and the Rotonde de Cartier Astrorégulateur, proving that La Maison could make any form of motion irrespective of how difficult. However it is a realized ability that the manufacture confirmed off too eagerly and steadily.
Yr after yr, press and public encountered an avalanche of difficult watches, primarily in Rotonde instances, in order that many of those high-end creations didn’t get the eye they need to have had.
The plethora of accessible issues meant that despite the fact that these watches had been beautifully executed, most left watch collectors chilly. Gross sales had been disappointing.
The hoard of difficult new fashions launched yr after yr was simply an excessive amount of to deal with. For everybody. There are, as an illustration, greater than 30 completely different difficult Rotonde fashions within the massive assortment of the identical identify to select from. And I’m wondering if that’s what luxurious is all about?
There is no such thing as a doubt that the change in technique stopping additional developments within the Superb Watch Making line is kind of a letdown. And it’s much more disappointing for the collectors who caught out their necks and acquired one or two of the Superb Watch Making fashions.
These individuals had been below the impression of getting purchased an advanced and precious timepiece from a number one model now getting into the haute horlogerie area. However now they’re confronted with a model retreating from this phase to pay attention (once more) on the feminine market.
It didn’t take lengthy earlier than the Superb Watch Making fashions started ending up with gray market sellers for half worth and collectors who did put their belief in Cartier and took the plunge typically bought their timepieces, which made the state of affairs even worse.
The 47 mm Ballon Bleu suffered tremendously and was typically seen on provide for a 3rd of the retail worth. Cartier realized how dangerous the state of affairs was and began to purchase again the hard-to-sell watches from its sellers to scale back the variety of watches that might find yourself within the gray market (see this Guardian article for details).
It’s no secret that Cartier is without doubt one of the money cows of the Richemont Group. Whereas there may be nothing incorrect with that – each Richemont and Cartier are within the enterprise of constructing a revenue in spite of everything – and it’s nonetheless as much as the client to purchase or not, I really feel it could be good if Cartier would make it much less apparent. It’s now time for this historic model to realize the long-term confidence of watch collectors as soon as once more as an alternative of solely short-term revenue and turnover.
Each of those tremendous watchmaking/haute horlogerie traces not exist, and really definitely CPCP because it was is not going to return. However that’s not an excessive amount of of a catastrophe since Cartier already offered the start of a brand new period in 2018: three actually good Tank Cintrée fashions very a lot in step with the previous CPCP Tank Cintrée.
I predict that within the close to future we’ll see among the difficult calibers which have been developed over the past decade fitted in traditional fashions just like the Tortue or the Pasha that Cartier is legendary for.
New CEO Cyrille Vigneron – a person who understands like no different what Cartier is, what it needs to be, and what it may do – is now in cost. Utilizing the wealthy historical past of La Maison mixed with the workers’s unbelievable information and expertise constructed up over the past ten years, Vigneron has all of the instruments at hand to make the model higher and stronger than ever within the coming years. Let’s hope he remembers the patron.
For extra info, please go to Cartier.com.
Fast Details Cartier Ballon Bleu Flying Tourbillon
Case: 39 x 11.four mm, pink gold, sapphire cabochon on crown
Motion: manually wound Caliber 9452 MC with one-minute flying tourbillon, stamped with Seal of Geneva, energy reserve 50 hours
Features: hours, minutes
Produced: 2014 – 2017
Authentic worth: €94,000 incl. VAT / $99,500
Fast Details Cartier Crash Skeleton
Case: platinum, 28.15 x 45.32 x 9.62 mm with beaded crown set with blue sapphire cabochon
Motion: manually wound Caliber 9618 MC
Features: hours, minutes
Worth: €76,000 (incl. VAT)
* This text was first printed on September 21, 2018 at The Rise And Fall Of Fine Watchmaking At Cartier: It’s Been Surprisingly Complicated.