|Year of production (circa)
18k Yellow gold
Cartier Cocktail Watch 18k ‘Calibre 104’
We are extremely proud to present an exquisite piece of jewelry and a technical masterpiece in one. This is the Cartier Calibre 104.
With a case measuring a minute 18 x 6,7 x 5,8 millimeters, this little gem is still fitted with a hand-wound mechanical movement in the baguette form factor.
We have to go all the way back to 1929, to find the predecessor to this movement, the Cal. 101 by the European Watch & Clock Company, a cooperation between Cartier and Jaeger. This watch movement is still the smallest ever made today. It was built around a new philosophy: Duoplan. This design broke the traditional watch movement in two and stacked them, resulting in two layers, hence the name Duoplan. This enabled Jaeger to create calibers with a significantly smaller footprint. The crown was moved to the back, resulting in the nickname “Back-winder”. The Cal. 104 we find here was ever so slightly bigger at 5,8 x 16 x 3,4 mm, but still impressively tiny.
Such a small movement allows the magicians at Cartier the freedom to design one of the most elegant lady’s watches you will ever lay eyes on. It is so small that it almost feels surreal, especially when you realize that there is a fully functioning mechanical movement packed into a case that is smaller than the average vitamin pill.
Cartier chose to integrate the case and bracelet. But not like an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is fitted with an integrated bracelet. No, the watch case is completely blended, almost hidden in the rat’s tail bracelet. The result is an 18k yellow-gold piece of jewelry that is quite simply stunning to behold.
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Cartier was founded by Louis-Francois Cartier in Paris in 1847. As number 59 on the Forbes most valuable brands list, it is safe to say that Cartier is a household name in the world of jewelry and watches.
Don’t be fooled by the glitter and glamour of the brand though. There is serious watchmaking heritage present here. Think, for instance, of the introduction of the men’s wristwatch. Up until the early 20th century, wristwatches were for women only. But then in 1904, the Brazilian dandy pilot Santos Dumont asked Louis Cartier for a more convenient solution to replace his cumbersome pocket watch. Cartier designed the Santos, the world’s first ever wristwatch for men. Who knows, we may have been Amsterdam Pocket Watch Company today, without Cartier’s massive influence on fashion!
Cartier is primarily known for its classic designs. Another famous example is the Tank. Inspired by a Renault tank from the WWI era, the rectangular case resembles the footprint of those early threaded vehicles. Like the Santos, its design has hardly changed in over a century.
The recipe is clear: white dials, heat-blued hands, stark black Roman numerals and a sapphire cabochon in the crown. We try not to be too liberal with the term iconic, but it surely applies here! Countless variations in case shapes, sizes, movement types and materials have been made. From the Ronde to the Pasha and from the Baignoire to the Ceinture. A fun detail is the signature below six o’ clock. “Swiss” indicates that these are Swiss made watches. But some come with a “Paris” designation, signaling those examples were sold in Cartier’s flagship store in Paris, Place Vendôme. A particularly desirable and collectible feature.
Cartier remained a family business until 1964. Today, it is part of the Richemont group, like IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Panerai, among many others. The classical designs remain a favorite among collectors and fashionistas alike.
If it is a timeless watch you are after, Cartier could just be perfect for you. Most of its designs are based on themes over a century old. And they have looked fresh and relevant ever since. We are confident they will remain so for a long, long time to come!
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