Fine Watchmaking Club 2014

The Crash Skeleton Watch, Calibre 9618 MC

Cartier: a sculptor of movements

The Watch Quote™ - November 26th, 2014

1967 : The year that a legend entered Cartier’s watchmaking repertoire with the accidental and joyous appearance of the Crash watch.

2014 : With the Crash skeleton watch, Cartier creates one of its first shaped movements: the calibre 9618 MC, the first of the Mechanical Legends. The collection meets a doubly high standard by regarding shape as the common denominator between the case and its movement.

The birth of a legend

Created in 1967 in Swinging London, the Crash watch expresses the sparkling, carefree spirit of an era that was all about complete freedom. The unlikely design of this watch could only have been conceived by Cartier, the great maker of shaped watches. Passionate and in touch with the spirit of the times, it sought to create a unique watch that would capture the joyous burst of rebellion and pop culture that shook up the conformism of the time.

How was it really created? A client entrusted a damaged Cartier watch to the head of the London subsidiary. Immediately captivated by this never-before-seen design, he decided to incorporate its folly into the vocabulary of Cartier’s watch shapes. With its asymmetrical dial, the Crash watch very soon became a collector’s watch, produced in very limited editions. Its shape became legendary and its name was argued over by an informed elite for whom it represented a seventies underground icon. The legend took hold.

In the name of creative freedom

Today, it is not simply the case that Cartier has subjected to radical transformations, but the entire movement which finds itself transformed, “crashed” in order to sit within the concave form of the case.

As a sculptor of shapes, Cartier used this watchmaking material to model it: the constraints both served as the guide and offered resistance, they were the source of discoveries. The entire movement was rethought. Pushing technical prowess and achievement yet further, the dial is completely skeletonised, covered with oversized Roman numerals that reveal the movement beneath. They provide the support for the calibre.

This aesthetic choice firmly places this watch in the world of Fine Watchmaking because the skeletonised movement ranks among the most emblematic complications. Through the transparent case back, the gear trains of the calibre 9618 MC with manual winding can be admired.

Fine Watchmaking and controlled extravagance

The calibre 9618 MC is not a traditional movement that has simply been modified to adjust to the shape of the case. It was designed from the outset as an openwork movement, conceived by watchmakers to achieve the best effect in terms of arrangement and aesthetics. The result is spectacular. The plates are sculpted and the entire movement has become the watch’s dial.

Due to its design and the skeletonising of the plates, the movement displays a large number of surfaces. On the Crash skeleton watch, all these surfaces have benefited from a Fine Watchmaking finish: satin-finishing of the steel components, and Roman numerals with chamfered and polished flanks.

By adapting the arrangement of the Crash skeleton watch’s movement to its case, Cartier reaffirms its identity as an artist and creator. Its ever pioneering daring and freedom surpass and enhance the scope for expression of its Fine Watchmaking creations.

Cartier The Crash Skeleton Watch, Calibre 9618 MC
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The Crash Skeleton Watch Calibre 9618 MC

Technical Specifications

Crash skeleton watch:Skeletonised bridges forming Roman numerals
Calibre 9618 MC
Case :950/1000 platinum
Dimensions :28,15 x 45,32 mm
Crown :beaded crown in 950/1000 platinum set with a blue cabochon sapphire
Crystal :mineral glass
Case back :Sapphire
Hands:blued-steel, sword-shaped
Case thickness :9,62 mm
Water-resistance :3 bar (~30 metres)
Movement :Mechanical Manufacture movement with manual winding, calibre 9618 MC
hours and minutes complication with skeletonised bridges forming Roman numerals
Casing-up dimensions :171⁄4 lines x 91⁄2 lines, 37.9 mm x 20.2 mm
Total dimensions:38,5 x 21,2 mm
Thickness :3,97 mm
Number of jewels :20
Number of parts:138
Balance :28,800 vibrations/hour
Power reserve:approx. 3 days
Strap :Grey alligator skin
Clasp :double adjustable folding claspin 18-carat white gold

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