Cartier Drive de Cartier - Dear Men...
One of this year's biggest novelties for our online magazine is that we were invited to take part to Cartier's press-conference, it was the first time since we started visiting the SIHH a few years ago that we have attended this special event. This invite was our perfect chance to start writing about a maison that, until yesterday, had only been dealt with in a couple of articles about the same model. It was definitely not enough if you consider how attractive this brand's creations are and how influential our magazine has become. We needed to fill the gap, since Cartier's watch-making division has reached quite a prominent position in the market and its growth as a manufacturer of calibers in the last few years has been wisely led by the eclectic personality of Carole Forestier-Kasapi.
If we only consider the manufacturer's novelties in the watch-making sector, the main one we definitely need to tackle on here is the Cartier Drive de Cartier collection. If we were to summarize this collection in one sentence, we could easily say that, from an aesthetic point of view, it fills the style void that existed between a Santos Dumont and a Rotonde de Cartier.
This new collection has inherited the style of the Santos Dumont, that thin and linear constant-section silhouette that starts from the bezel and then reaches the lugs. To craft the Cartier Drive de Cartier collection, the brand has openly taken inspiration from the world of classic cars and it has designed a cushion-shaped case that gives this entire range of timepieces a very strong masculine touch.
The Cartier Drive de Cartier comes in three different versions; the first one is a three hands timepiece featuring small seconds at 6 o'clock that is available in a steel or pink gold-made case and three different dials (black, gray or white.) The second option adds the large date display to the basic version, it also sports a second time-zone and the day-time/night-time indicator. The haute-horlogerie Cartier Drive de Cartier is a 9452 MC flying tourbillon that has been awared the prestigious Geneva Seal certification of quality.
The case is perfectly polished both on the bezel and on the lugs while the case middle is satin-brushed, on the case middle has been inserted a small bolt-shaped crown. The middle version is called Cartier Drive de Cartier with large date display, it also sports a second timezone and a day-time/night-time indicator, it is available both steel-made and pink gold-made and it is the most original one of the new creations. Cartier have skilfully played with the geometric shapes and spaces distribution of this timepiece's components by taking direct inspiration from the indicators featured on the dashboards of classic cars. This has lead to the design of the second time-zone feature inserted between 10 o'clock and 11 o'clock and also of the scale located at 12 o'clock. The manufacturer has also added in a crescent-shaped opening inside which is a coloured disc that rotates to signal the gradual passing from day-time to night-time.
From a mechanic point of view, the Cartier Drive de Cartier timepieces are fitted with an in-house-built caliber belonging to the 1904 range; the three hands model features the 1904 PS-MC caliber while the more evolved 1904 FU-MC caliber fits the second version, both mechanisms were crafted in 2014. The characteristics of this movement are excellent and they clearly show how far Cartier have gone in their role as watch-manufacturer. The Cotes de Geneve decoration is probably the “least interesting” side of these timepieces if you compare it to all the other oustanding features, like, for instance, the beautiful adjusting system of the balance spring that sports a small screw connected to a cam that has been built in the shape of Cartier's logo; the famous letter “C”.
I can't see it myself but I have been assured that they are on there; the two winding barrels, the “hacking second” function and the seven ball bearings made of ceramic on top of which oscillates the bi-directional rotor. On the front side of the dial of the Cartier 1904 FU-MC caliber, you can view the wheel and the ring of the large date display and also the wheel of the day-time/night-time indicator. If you take a good look at the dial and at the day-time/night-time indicator, you will spot that the guilloche decor that is inspired by a classic car's radiator grille covers the whole dial up to the rim of the case. The small seconds scale, on the other hand, has been stylistically simplified if compared to the one-counter architecture. The large date display appears in a rectangular window located at 12 o'clock, in a somehow better-located position that is also well integrated with the rest of the dial if compared to the location at 3 o'clock that formally breaks that almost perfect balance of the three hands' structure.
The Cartier Drive de Cartier Tourbillon has been awarded the Geneva Seal certification of quality and the flying tourbillon cage of the hand-wound 9452 MC caliber that runs at a frequency of 3Hz and that guarantees up to 50 hours of power reserve indicates the running seconds. Like all the rest of the timepieces that have been granted this prestigious certification, the Cartier Drive de Cartier Tourbillon is assembled and accurately set in the Cartier Haute-Horlogerie “Poinçon de Genève" labs that are located above the Cartier boutique on 35, Rue du Rhône, in the heart of Geneva.
The dial of this timepiece is very different from the dial of the other Cartier Drive de Cartier watches; like on a Cartier Ballon Bleu de Cartier that is fitted with the exact same caliber, the ring of the Roman numerals is embossed if compared to the guilloche decor. Because of the size of the tourbillon cage, Cartier have had to move their famous “secret signature” from 7 o'clock to 10 o'clock.
The Cartier Drive de Cartier is a clear hint that the French maison is purposely aiming at attracting a masculine audience. All their collections, except for the Santos Dumont and the Calibre de Cartier Diver ones, are virtually unisex collections but I am under the impression that the brand's marketing strategy is slowly gearing towards essentially masculine-designed timepieces rather than feminine ones. The introduction of in-house-built calibers was probably waiting for the launch of a less classic collection, of a more manly and “understated” one if compared to the historic collections of the brand. We are being presented with a type of watch-making that is primarily accentuating the maison's role as a French watch-making artesan rather than as a jewels designer.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Cartier, Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting by Entropik)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter