The shaped watch (anything that isn’t round) is a Cartier innovation that is as much a part of its creative heritage as the panther motif, or for that matter, the wristwatch itself – the first wristwatch on record, the Cartier Santos, was square. In 2015, the brand began to revisit its shaped watches, starting with a platinum skeletonized version of the Crash watch, followed a year later with a pink gold version. Last year, it resurrected the square-shaped Panther – which had been discontinued in the early 2000s – introducing a full collection with a new movement and a slightly revamped bracelet. In January at SIHH, Cartier revisits the Crash again with a new model, and introduces four new pieces in the Baignoire series of mostly oval cases. The new models are all part of the Libre collection. All but the new Crash contain quartz movements.
The Cartier Tank Solo XL Automatic is a “large” watch, but it’s successful in being a more modern, sufficiently masculine iteration of the design. At 31mm by 40.85mm and 7.65mm thin, I locate the Cartier Tank Solo XL to be a masterpiece of design and proportions and a great match for the 6.5″ (17cm) wrist. For a watch called the Tank with powerful military-associated roots, however, the Cartier Tank is largely regarded as the reverse of a rough-wearing, battlefield view. The Cartier Tank Solo XL is water-resistant to just 30m, comes on a leather strap, and is almost the wristwatch edition of a tuxedo.Calling this model “XL” reminds us that it’s still thought to be a men’s watch. The simple expression of the Cartier Tank has undeniably been very popular for women’s watches, which may actually turn some men off by causing them to see it as female – Ariel discussed this general occurrence in a dedicated article here. Personally, that isn’t relevant to my own tastes and sporting habits. Further, if you do not believe Cartier a “real” watch manufacturer since they also produce jewelry – well, then there is probably nothing that I can say that can change your mind anyway.To mepersonally, there are three potential issues with the perception of this Cartier Tank. It may be believed 1) female(two) overly formal or old-fashioned, or 3) generic. Yes, like the Rolex Submariner, state, the Cartier Tank could be criticized as being a casualty of its success. It has influenced countless different designs and been imitated endlessly… to the point that its familiarity might almost represent a generic “watch” to individuals not knowledgeable about watches. The Tank’s recognizability can be a good or a bad thing depending on your view, or it may not matter to you if you enjoy the watch.
The Crash watch was introduced in 1967, inspired by the remnants of a client’s Baignoire Allongé watch that had been mangled in a fiery car crash. The watch was an interpretation of the surrealist art popular at the time. It was revisited in the early 1990s and again in 2013 as a ladies’ collection. In 2015, it was given haute horlogerie status as the Crash Skeleton, with an openworked manufacture movement designed to fit the distorted case shape. The new Crash Radieuse takes the Crash to the next level, with a seemingly crumpled case and dial, with barely-visible stretched Roman numerals. The case is yellow gold and it contains the manually-wound caliber 8970 MC. It is a numbered limited edition of 50 pieces.
The Baignoire Débordante is designed as a starburst, with openworked white gold spikes emanating from the center of the oval dial. The stems are set front and back with diamonds and black spinels, with the spinels focused at the top and bottom ends. The watch, a limited edition of 50 pieces, contains a quartz movement.
The Baignoire Infinie is a four-layer composition of concentric rings radiating out from the center dial. The rings are set randomly with baguette diamonds, white mother-of-pearl, black Tahitian mother-of-pearl, and black spinel. The circle appears to be cut off at the sides. The movement is quartz and it is limited to 20 pieces.
The Baignoire Étoilée is a jeweled watch with a delicate bracelet composed of small round and square-cut gems randomly set in an openworked link structure. The upended square shape of the gems is repeated as a pattern on the dial of the east-west oval case, which is set with a double of row of white diamonds on top and a double row of black spinels below. The 18k white gold bracelet is set with diamonds and black spinels. The movement is quartz and it is limited to 15 pieces.
The Baignoire Interdite is all about Cartier’s signature Roman numerals, which crisscross the east-west oval dial. They are coated in black ADLC for dramatic contrast with the white dial. The bezel is set with white diamonds. The movement is quartz and it is limited to 50 pieces.
Of course, these are limited edition ladies’ pieces by Cartier and are priced in that upper tier. Price for the Crash Radieuse is $40,700, the Baignoire Interdite is $43,200, the Baignoire Débordante is $82,500, the Baignoire Infinie is $100,000, and finally, the Cartier Baignoire Étoilée is $209,000. cartier.com