Angus Davies reviews the Rotonde de Cartier Annual Calendar watch calibre 9908 MC, a new annual calendar launched at SIHH 2012.
Cartier jewellery is synonymous with France. Originating in Paris back in 1847, the Maison famed for it’s red and gold coloured jewellery boxes has epitomised Gaelic elegance.
Despite the changes in culture, technology, political landscape and advent of wars, one constant has always endured, the tasteful glamour of Cartier.
Judicious designs have somehow retained relevance despite the passage of time. The artisans at Cartier always stylistically sage, exercise prudence and inspired choice when considering materials, lines, gems and textures.
Cartier designed its first wristwatch in 1904, the first example being presented to Louis Cartier’s dear friend, the aviator Santos-Dumont.
During the subsequent decades different families of watches have been created; Santos, Tank, Pasha, Roadster, Ballon Bleu and Calibre.
Fine Watchmaking Collection
The pinnacle of Cartier’s watches are made within an atelier in the Canton of Geneva, bearing the Poinçon de Genève, the Geneva Seal. These watches include uber-complicated tourbillons and minute repeaters and form part of the Fine Watchmaking Collection.
Cartier’s expertise with complicated timepieces is beautifully expressed with the stunning Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon watch, calibre 9402 MC.
I recently listened to mellifluous chimes of this watch and fell under its spell.
Those who wish to become immersed in haute horology can download a free app – Cartier Fine Watchmaking for iPad available on the iTunes App Store.
A new annual calendar
My attention has fallen upon a first for Cartier, a new annual calendar.
The Rotonde de Cartier Annual Calendar watch calibre 9908 MC was launched at this year’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, SIHH.
It is presented in the choice of two noble metals; white or pink gold. I would personally agonise for hours trying to choose my preferred hue and maybe post purchase, cognitive dissonance would quietly whisper the merits of the model I had passed up. However, logically either model offers sublime style typical of the brand founded by Louis-François Cartier.
The first thing that strikes me is the clear Roman numerals staring back at me. Bold and proud they succinctly impart the hours.
Blued hands, typical of fine watches, provide cool serenity and co-ordinate perfectly with the sapphire cabochon found on the crown.
At the centre of the dial surrounding the Cartier cognomen is slate-coloured galvanised guilloché. This adornment, applied to a lower dial, peeps at the wearer through various apertures of a grid located above.
Adjacent the Roman numerals, the guilloché charms are once more revealed.
Near the central area, the days of the week are displayed, through the upper grid. The red rectangular shaped tip of the indicator is the only part of the hand to be revealed.
The red oblong pauses above the appropriate day and reminds the wearer whether they need to commute to work or can return to lazy slumber on a Sunday morning.
A similar approach is adopted for the month. The months appear through apertures nestled between the chapter ring and the hours. Again, the red tip of an otherwise hidden hand, indicates the month.
The day and month zones are presented on a silvered guilloché lower dial, featuring a sunray motif.
The guillochers interplay with shade and textures are worthy of a French Impressionist in the way they expertly capture light.
The date adopts repose below noon.
The chapter ring, simple in presentation, marks integers of five in black squares, with delicate marks used for the intervals in between.
The case is highly polished with a mirror-like appearance.
The interhorns are beautifully formed and feature prominent screws, ensuring the marriage between case and strap are held in steadfast union.
The diameter of the case is 45mm, perfectly judged for comfortable wearing.
A blue sapphire cabochon forms part of the conical shaped crown. Delightful detail surrounds the edging of the crown similar to castellations, affording grip when adjusting the watch.
The caseback features a sapphire crystal affording a view of the manufacture movement.
Cartier has fitted a manufacture movement crafted in its own atelier in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
The 9908 MC is an evolution of its much praised 1904 MC calibre but with an annual calendar mechanism added into the plate.
Look through the sapphire caseback and cherish the finissage. The rotor is adorned with Côtes de Genève motif. This decoration is also applied to the bridges.
Many annual calendars require correction of the date via a setting mechanism in the side of the case disrupting the lines. Cartier, astute guardians of aesthetics, have provided the watch with a crown which can perform all necessary adjustments.
Cartier’s first foray into annual calendars is superb. It provides the convenience of an annual calendar, requiring only one date adjustment per year on the 1st of March, yet retains simplicity in making necessary adjustments solely with the crown.
The comely charms of Cartier have not been abandoned in the pursuit of horological complications. This watch is handsome from all angles.
The grid method of conveying much information in a clean, uncluttered form is genius.
Cartier have created another pulchritudinous star. Time will tell whether it shares the timeless quality of other Cartier offerings, however, I suspect that its brilliance will never diminish.
Model: Rotonde de Cartier Annual Calendar watch calibre 9908 MC
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.