Grand Complication Skeleton pocket watch
An ode to transparency
The Watch Quote™ - December 16th, 2011
To dare to be different in fine watchmaking is an art in its own right, and braving convention is sometimes a sign of luxury. For a man who feels very much at home in the world of today, to carry a Cartier Grand Complication Skeleton pocket watch reveals an approach to life in which the grace of every movement closely reflects the relationship he maintains with time and with the objects designed to convey it. It is an invitation to all those watch lovers for whom looking to the past is a way of finding inspiration for the present and – who knows? – of maybe inventing the future.
To choose to carry about one’s person a watch kept on a chain encourages a relationship with time that is different from that of one’s contemporaries. For many who are passionate about the art of measuring time, this mode of use – even if for over five hundred years it remained the only way to keep a watch about one’s person – has now long since become a practice from a bygone age.
And yet, when one stops to think about it, the pocket watch offers a welcome alternative to the creeping conformity of the times and enables all those watch lovers who chafe against routine to rediscover a form of ceremony that is guaranteed to make one stand out from the crowd (and a very good thing, too).
The mystery of the invisible...
For watch lovers, to see a chain hanging from a buttonhole is often a source of intellectual torture. For those who long to learn what models are owned by other connoisseurs, an air of tantalising mystery emanates from the end of this often precious accoutrement. They are thus obliged to wait until the owner concerned finally removes it from its hiding-place, with a gesture that is always more than a little ceremonious, to gain a fleeting glimpse of its appearance. Cartier, aware of this type of timepiece’s potential for causing surprise among informed watch lovers, thus rediscovers a long tradition inherited from its very origins and given such talented expression during the Art Deco period.
The Grand Complication Skeleton pocket watch possesses both the eternal character of Cartier landmark timepieces and the unique impact of the House style, which makes so many Cartier creations truly ahead of their time.
... revealed for all to see...
With its well-balanced features, this watch designed for carrying in one’s pocket gives a first intimation of its force of attraction in its generous diameter measuring 59.2 mm. Solidly installed in the hollow of one’s hand, the proportions of this marvel of fine watchmaking echo those of the exceptional timepieces created by Cartier for some of its most illustrious clients in the late 19th
These exceptional dimensions give pride of place to its magnificent calibre inserted amid the delicate display of open-work Roman numerals cut away and carefully fashioned from the solid white gold of the watch’s case.
It should be noted that, in order to carve these twelve Roman numerals out of the original solid gold surface, this technical tour de force required at least 100 hours of extremely high-precision craftsmanship to perfect the finish and embellishment of each numeral.
This constitutes a true test of patience and application, if it is considered that over 300 reflex angles are involved, with each one fashioned by hand!
The watch’s manufacture mechanical movement with manual winding, identified by the reference 9436 MC, is immediately seen on both faces of this pebble-shaped timepiece, benefiting from the two delicately-curved sapphire crystals to expose in total transparency the carefully-mounted workings of its plate, its bridges and its train, and thus revealing the main part of what it is physically possible to see of all the movement’s mechanical complexity.
...so as to lay bare the genius of so many anonymous artists
It is often said of the master watchmakers and other craftsmen involved in watch production that they are the aristocrats of the traditional artisans. With this timepiece in which transparency takes pride of place, they have gone out of their way to unveil some of the secrets of this mechanical self-winding heart regulated by a delicate tourbillon mechanism and equipped with two of the most useful complications sought by watch lovers today. It will be noted that, in addition to indicating the time with precision thanks to its traditional tourbillon supported by a bridge in the shape of a “C” for Cartier, this magnificent timepiece is also equipped with a mono-push-piece chronograph mechanism. This function for measuring short durations of time is started, stopped and then zero-reset by means of a push-piece incorporated into the winding crown set with a sapphire cabochon.
The watch’s movement also includes the perpetual calendar complication, a refined system that allows for the accurate automatic display on the dial of all practical calendar information required right up to the year 2100. Thus the counters on the dial with their blued-steel hands display the date at 12 o’clock, the day of the week at 3 o’clock and the month at 9 o’clock. This high-precision technical mechanism takes into account the extra day to be added at the end of February once every 4 years, and indicates it in an aperture positioned at 10 o’clock. In order to preserve for as long as possible the accuracy of its calendar information, this grand complication movement also offers an eight-day power reserve.
This exceptional calibre includes a total of some 457 parts, each individually hand- finished. Over 200 hours are required to carry out and perfect the piercing process, involving delicate, highly fragile parts. Chamfering can be performed only by specialised craftsmen, and the most complex parts each require up to 10 hours of work. The assembly and setting of a movement such as this one again requires over 200 further hours of work.
Cartier is pleased to offer this magnificent timepiece for our contemplation, duly placed on its rock crystal and obsidian base. With its interplay of contrasting materials and colours, the subtle suggestion of the presence of transparent threads and flecks of light, this model conveys enormous elegance and charm, making it a source of constant pleasure both for others and for oneself.
A brilliant demonstration of human genius, this mechanical masterpiece can be seen as the very expression of the highest standards demanded by Cartier in the realm of Fine Watchmaking. Offered in a numbered limited edition of 10 models in white gold and five models in white gold set with baguette-cut and brilliant-cut diamonds, this combination of grand complications is the very symbol of the watchmaking soul of Cartier.