Details 

An extremely charismatic, collectible and unique platinum wristwatch of the famous brand Cartier, founded in 1847. Custom-made in 2008. Case in platinum 950, diameter 39mm, Cartier sapphire cabochon-set white gold crown, sapphire caseback. Open-worked dial, blued steel Breguet-style hour and minute hands. Caliber 9610 MC, hand-wound, skeletonized, double barrel, power reserve up to 70 hours. Functions – indication of time in hours and minutes. Cartier black leather strap, Cartier 18k white gold double folding clasp. Piece unique. 

Lot essay 

The present lot, together with another, the Tank Louis Cartier Skeleton CPCP Piece Unique, were custom made by Cartier for a private client. He recalls the story of how these watches were ordered: 

“Yes, I remember I liked the original Tank Louis Cartier Skeleton design, which was produced as a limited edition for the HK [Hong Kong] market, however, those were sold out when I’d decided I would like to buy, so I placed a custom order, asking Cartier to make a special one-of-a-kind watch for me. The same was done with the Rotonde. The original model was not a limited edition, but I wanted to have something different from the non-limited edition, so I prepared a custom design to have the fine line pattern of the open-worked bridges and mainplate. The watch was made as a piece unique, so those two are 1/1 in the world.”

The present lot is one of the last timepieces of the famous and highly collectible Collection Privée Cartier Paris (CPCP). The CPCP collection was introduced by the brand in 1998 and lasted until 2008. It consisted of watches based on historic Cartier designs, but employed modern technologies including a sapphire crystal, waterproofing and shock-resistance. The watches were equipped with modern mechanical movements – hand-wound, or, in some models, self-winding – supplied by companies such as Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget, Frédéric Piguet, Gérald Genta, Girard-Perregaux, or in-house, as the present example. The CPCP collection watches were available in very limited numbers, usually produced in small batches of 200 to 250 pieces, and are currently of undoubted interest to collectors. This is especially true for the rarest unique pieces, custom-made by Cartier for private clients. Such examples are extremely rare on the market, and here we are talking about an incredibly rare occasion when two custom-made timepieces are offered at once at the same auction, which were ordered by one private client of the brand two years in a row – the last two years of the existence of the CPCP collection. The dial side the caliber is signed ‘Cartier Paris’, characteristic of the Collection Privée Cartier Paris (CPCP) line. 

The design of the present Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton CPCP Piece Unique is based on the Rotonde de Cartier round-shaped classic watches, one of the core Cartier watch collections, while the skeletonization of caliber 9610 MC bears a resemblance to the legendary Tank Louis Cartier Noctambule from the CPCP collection that presumably inspired the original owner of the watch to create this design. 

The case of the present example is made of platinum 950. This cool white metal, together with the special finishing of the 9610 MC skeletonized caliber, resulted in a remarkable monochrome design that can be described as a late incarnation of the ‘garland-style’ in haute horlogerie. Created in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Louis Cartier, largely through the pioneering use of platinum, this neoclassical style of diamond jewellery was fabric-inspired and revived the formal court motifs of the Louis XVI epoch. In this sense, the finish of the caliber 9610 MC must be recognised as fully in line with the design intent. The rhodium-plated skeletonized mainplate and bridges are decorated with a snail finish radiating from the axis of the hands. Nearly all wheels, including the balance, are finished in white metal – with the sole exception of the transmission wheel. The blued steel hands and sapphire cabochon on the winding crown add a fitting accent to this monochromatic creation. 

Reasons to bid 

The Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Skeleton CPCP Piece Unique would appear to be an extremely attractive purchase for the collector who wishes to obtain an understated and at the same time impressive mechanical wristwatch of a legendary and historically important design from a world-famous watch brand, one of the market leaders in haute horlogerie. The ability to create elegant watches of conceptual design is one of the strengths of Cartier, and the present watch is a clear confirmation of this power. The present example, produced as a piece unique, is a notable haute horlogerie embodiment of Cartier’s ‘garland style’, thanks to which the jewellery house once acquired the prestigious status as ‘the king of jewellers, the jeweller of kings’. This is a classic collectible, especially since it was produced as a one-of-a-kind creation by custom order, never to be produced again.