An extremely attractive and rare complicated wristwatch of the famous brand Cartier, founded in 1847. Date of purchase: 2004. Case made of 18k rose gold, dimensions 43x34mm (with lugs), thickness 10mm, silvered dial with “lotus” guilloche relief pattern, Cartier “secret” signature at 7 o’clock, recessed (sunken) sub-dials, blued steel Breguet-style hour and minute hands, octagonal crown serving to start, stop and reset the chronograph, sapphire caseback. Hand-wound caliber 045 MC, power reserve up to 40 hours. Functions – indication of time in hours and minutes, small seconds hand, monopusher chronograph with central seconds hand and 30-minute counter. Black crocodile strap, Cartier rose gold double deployment clasp.
The Tortue Monopoussoir is one of the first timepieces of the Collection Privée Cartier Paris (CPCP). This collection was introduced by the brand in 1998 and lasted until 2008. The CPCP consisted of watches based on historic Cartier designs but equipped with modern mechanical movements, hand-wound, or, in some models, automatic, supplied by companies such as Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget, Frédéric Piguet, Gérald Genta or Girard-Perregaux. The watches in the CPCP collection were available in very limited numbers, and are currently of undoubted interest to collectors.
The design of the Tortue Monopoussoir is based on the first wristwatch of this shape, created by Louis Cartier in 1912, and also on vintage tortue-shaped single-button chronograph wristwatches produced by the brand in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The characteristic, very attractive and memorable shape of the case resembles a turtle standing on four legs. It was the third wristwatch designed by Louis Cartier, giving the watch a distinct vintage charm.
The movement of the higher-level execution type (caliber 045MC Mk2) used only monolithic steel springs
The Tortue Monopoussoir is equipped with a rare hand-wound movement, the caliber 045 MC. This was developed by the THA Èbauche complicated movements atelier, founded in 1996 by the independent watchmakers Vianney Halter, Denis Flageollet and François-Paul Journe. The 045 MC, a good piece of independent watchmaking wrapped into Cartier’s heritage design, is based on the layout of early wrist chronographs of the first quarter of the 20th century, the functions of which were controlled by pressing the crown. Alternative designs with either a separate button or two buttons were developed later. Cartier preferred a chronograph controlled by the winding crown, apparently with the aim of creating a sophisticated, minimalist look with no additional controls on the case. For the same reason, this design was used in the Tortue Monopoussoir watch from the CPCP collection.
The finishing on the caliber 045MC has a look typical of the CPCP collection. The bridges of the movement are decorated with Cartier’s signature ‘double C’ letters, which are applied using laser engraving. The finishing of all parts is made to a high standard, with the bevelling and polishing of the edges, straight grinding of the chronograph levers, and polishing of the screw heads. The movement features a lateral clutch system with an oscillating pinion and was produced in two versions – in lower- or higher-level executions. In the lower-level execution type (caliber 045MC Mk1), wire springs were used as the springs of the chronograph mechanism and there was an additional bridge installed in the anticlockwise direction from the balance, under which these springs were attached. The movement of the higher-level execution type (caliber 045MC Mk2) used only monolithic steel springs (except for the fixing spring of the minute counter) and there was no additional bridge. The present lot features the caliber 045MC Mk2.
A good piece of independent watchmaking wrapped into Cartier’s heritage design, is based on the layout of early wrist chronographs of the first quarter of the 20th century
In addition to this feature, which serves as a real lure for the discerning collector, there are also many other options for this model. The Tortue Monopoussoir was produced in 18-carat white, yellow or rose gold (as in the present example), jewellery models with diamond inlaid bezels were produced, while in addition, the watches were equipped with dials of various designs. According to our information, there are at least nine versions of the Tortue Monopoussoir, without taking into account the two versions of the caliber, which increases the number of types further. All this greatly increases the collectible appeal of the Tortue Monopoussoir, allowing the collector to conduct their own research on the topic and find new and intriguing types. It should also be borne in mind that the total production volume of all types of the Tortue Monopoussoir, in our estimation, is unlikely to exceed a thousand pieces, meaning the value of a watch in good condition tends to grow.
Reasons to bid
The Cartier Tortue Monopoussoir Ref. 2781 caliber 045MC Mk2 watch would appear to be a fine purchase for the collector who wishes to obtain a complicated mechanical wristwatch of a legendary and historically important classic design from a world-famous watch brand, one of the market leaders in haute horlogerie and complicated timepieces. The undoubted advantage of the present lot is the combination of the outstanding features of the nice and rare hand-wound caliber 045MC of the higher-level execution type, Mk2. The chronograph mechanism is embedded with clear branded aesthetics and features a traditional layout with an oscillating pinion clutch and column wheel. The Cartier Tortue Monopoussoir Ref. 2781 caliber 045MC Mk2 will preserve its relevance, especially since the production of this watch has been discontinued, and the number of pieces produced is extremely small compared to mass-produced self-winding chronographs.