Contemporary forms bring new life to three emblematic timepieces from the Cartier collection that strike the perfect balance between refinement and flamboyance.

SINGAPORE (May 21): A trio of cult icons formed the core of Cartier’s offering at the 2018 edition of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. Embodying the maison’s heritage of fine watchmaking, they are set to be trailblazers.

Beguiling shape

Cartier is known for its elliptic case, which made its debut in 1906. The oval bathtub (“baignoire” in French) was the inspiration for the design and shape, which evokes timeless chic. This year, four of the five ladies’ jewellery watch models in the limited-edition Cartier Libre collection are elliptic.

The Baignoire Débordante has a white-gold case from which openworked spikes emanate from the centre of the dial. The spikes are set with diamonds and black spinels to form a starburst.

The Baignoire Étoilée (right) has a delicate bracelet composed of diamonds and black spinels in an openworked link structure. The timepiece’s dial is set with a double row of gemstones.

The Baignoire Infinie is a streamlined version of the 1960s Baignoire Allongée and features a mosaic of baguette-cut diamonds, mother-of-pearl and black spinels in concentric circles to result in a sparkling spectacle of disequilibrium.

Last but not least, the Baignoire Interdite re-orientates the positioning of the traditional Baignoire by turning it 90° to its side. Strips of Cartier’s black amorphous diamond-like carbon coating criss-cross the diamond-ringed dial, resulting in a dramatic contrast.

Roar of the panther

The panther motif became part of Cartier’s brand identity with the introduction of Panthère de Cartier in 1984. Unlike its fine jewellery counterpart, Panthère timepieces embodied the celebrated animal’s characteristics of power, elegance, ferocity and restraint in a less literal manner. This could be seen in the famous combination of its soft square shape, streamlined profile and supple chain-link bracelet.

Such were the bejewelled renditions of the Panthère de Cartier this year, one of which features the same dainty square diamond-paved case and comes with a bracelet available in a double (left) or triple loop that coils sensually around the wrist.

Possibly the most headline-grabbing model of all is the interactive Révélation d’une Panthère (right) that exhibits pure watchmaking magic. This ground-breaking masterpiece’s feline form is only revealed on the black, green or red lacquer dial when the watch is tilted such that the gold microbeads fall into place to form the stylised motif of a panther’s head from behind the sapphire crystal. Its pink-gold case is framed by diamonds, while its winding crown is set with either a diamond, an emerald or a ruby to match the colour of the dial.

The sky is the limit

The Santos de Cartier, with its distinctively square bezel, is widely regarded as one of the first men’s wristwatches to have been manufactured. It was designed by Louis Cartier in 1904 as an alternative to the pocket watch for his Brazilian pilot friend Alberto Santos-Dumont and enabled the aviation pioneer to check his flight performance while still keeping both hands on the controls.

The new Santos de Cartier collection, which replaces the Santos 100 launched in 2004, remains true to its original philosophy of determination, comfort and intelligent performance.  While the timepiece’s square dial and unique hardware design feature of eight screws on the bezel remain unchanged, sleeker lines have been introduced. The watch is powered by an anti-magnetic calibre 1847 MC and is water-resistant up to 100m despite its thin case, owing to its screw-down assembly design.

The timepiece comes with interchangeable steel, gold, calfskin or alligator skin straps. Thanks to Cartier’s SmartLink self-fitting technology, those who opt for the metal bracelet have the convenience of adjusting its length by simply touching a button on each metal link to unlatch and remove it.