The Cartier Drive de Cartier Moon Phase watches hands-on
More and more often I notice people wearing watches that are usually considered and defined by the general public as "sporty, but elegant", "suitable for all occasions" or labeled as "must-have-watches". This group of people includes guys my age (about 25) who choose a specific brand simply because it represents a status symbol rather than a watch, and this is quite understandable if you keep in mind that it is at this age that we start getting to know the world of watch-making and that we still do not have sufficient knowledge of the market and of the products.
I would like to discuss with my readers a specific collection; the Cartier Drive de Cartier. Why do I say 'specific'? For the simple reason that it does not frequently make it to the bucket list of my friends and I am quite sure that many of them do not even know this collection. The name 'Cartier' needs no further introductions both in the worlds of jewelry-making and watch-making.
The collection was presented to the general public at the 2016 SIHH and from that moment on it was immediately deemed a success. Stylistically speaking, the Cartier Drive de Cartier fills the gap between the Ronde de Cartier and the Santos de Cartier and is mostly geared towards a male audience, as clearly expressed by its design inspired by the (classic) motoring world.
My first impression of the Cartier Drive de Cartier is that it is an uncommon synthesis of elegance and style, but what makes the Drive a 'spokesperson' for these characteristics? The use of different shapes; Cartier is a master in this, given its experience in the field of jewelry-making. If we take a look at the case, we can see that it is rectangular, almost square (41 by 40 mm) but our perception of it is that it is round and its polishing accentuates this feeling.
Its elegance comes from its clean lines and its reference to classicism expressed by the color of the dial and the use of Roman numerals instead of Arabic numerals; the trademark of a Cartier watch. Even the "domed" glass plays an important role in the stylistic balance of this timepiece, because it creates a special volume that makes the watch stand out and gives it an unmistakable personality. Finally, the lugs are well-crafted and they are not too pronounced. The thickness, on the other hand, is not reduced as it could appear from the photos (11,25mm).
The other source of style and elegance is undoubtedly the dial; the game of shapes on the case is reinterpreted using different crafting processes. The outer part, where the hour indices are arranged in a sunbeam layout, is smooth, while the central part features a guilloché pattern (inspired by the grilles of a radiator) that generates interesting light effects and nuances. The dial is silver, but it also available in a gray or black version. I like to point out that the index located at 4 o'clock is made up of four consecutive 'Is' rather than the standard Roman numeral 'IV'; the idea behind this is to create a sense of harmony and symmetry on the entire dial.
This is a detail that is not obvious at all and that means that there are 4 indexes characterized by the figure I (I, II, III, IIII), 4 indexes represented by the figure V (V, VI, VII, VIII) and 4 indexes represented by the figure X (IX, X, XI, XII ). Even the crown design of a Cartier Drive de Cartier is not improvised, but it rather takes inspiration from a nut, like the ones that you can find in the assembly of an engine. Finally, the hands are crafted in the shape of a blued steel sword. Personally, I love these details, as they enrich and beautifully characterize this watch.
At 6 o'clock you can see the complication with the moon phases that was introduced this year on the Cartier Drive de Cartier Moon Phase. There are many versions available and it is difficult not to find one that suits your taste, especially if you consider the variety of materials that have been used to craft them. Almost all models are available both with a steel case and with an 18 kt rose gold case. The available complications range from the classic hours-minutes-date-small seconds, to the wonderful time-only with a flying tourbillon (even bearing the Geneva Seal certification!), to the complicated timepiece with retrograde time zone, large date display, day/night indicator and small seconds, all the way up to the very elegant time-only in white gold.
To complete the already wide range available, the version of the Cartier Drive de Cartier with moon phases (which replaces the small seconds) was added to the collection since the 2017 SIHH. This is the version of the Drive that best suits my personal taste, it has a very clear vintage tone and an uncommon warmth. To remind us that Cartier is also a traditional watch-maker we can count on the automatic in-house built 1904MC caliber that runs at a frequency of 4Hz and that guarantees up to 48 hours of power reserve. The name given to this movement is not a random one; the date 1904 represents the year, when Cartier began to manufacture watches, while the other acronyms present are the initials of the complication used (1904MC-PS for example, where 'PS' stands for "petite seconde").
The caliber is decorated with Côtes de Genéve motifs and it presents refined technical solutions; one of the most important solutions is the presence of two barrels that guarantee an increase in the power reserve (this was increased by 14% if compared to the 42 hours guaranteed by the 1847MC movement hosted inside the Clè de Cartier) and a greater accuracy throughout the power reserve, thanks to a better distribution of the torque from the barrels to the train. The spring of the barrel does not constantly release its torque to the escapement, but it rather releases more of it when it is fully charged, even more so if its size increases. The insertion of two barrels thus makes it possible to have two small springs that can guarantee a more constant torque release, increasing, in turn, the watch's accuracy and the duration of the power reserve.
The sapphire crystal located on the case-back allows the user to view the spiral adjustment system, whose small screw is connected to a Cartier C-shaped "cam" and the finely decorated rotor placed on a ceramic bearing. These are details that can make a difference both aesthetically and technically. The Cartier Drive de Cartier is an interesting and different watch from all that the competition could offer. I am convinced that it will soon become an icon of this brand (like the Santos), and its retail price - if compared to the specs - is highly competitive. If we exclude the ultra complicated versions and the gold versions, a Cartier Drive de Cartier is positioned between 6,100 and 8,550 euro, depending on the version selected.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Andrea Frigerio @Horbiter®