Cartier’s Historic Designs In Current Times

Every time when I am going thru the largest book about Cartier clockes & watches;
‘The Cartier Collection’ / ‘Timepieces’ (Flammarion), I am amazed how good and not dated at all, these vintage time pieces look. They could easely be put back on the shelf, the way they are.
I photographed some of the current watches from the last fifteen years, with their original in the back ground.


The Santos watch; I think it’s O.K. to say that it’s be THE icon of the Cartier catalogue.
Originally released as the Santos Dumont in 1904/06, later on the Santos was released in a steel/gold sporty version, in 1978 to be exact and directly inspired by the Santos Dumont watch.
This watch became an incredible success, just like the Santos 100, that surprised the world seven years ago.

Pictured here the Santos Dumont 1913,


released as a LE in 2004 and in the back ground a vintage Santos Dumont from 1914,
In my opinion this is one of the best re-releases that Cartier did in the last 10 years.
The shape of both cases is so identical and on the other hand so different from most Santos watches. The round shoulders is something very typical for this model, that other Santos models do not share. New this year is the Santos Dumont with grey or white dial and power reserve movement. Larger, bolder and an excellent watch for any outfit.



One of the most bizarre vintage Tanks is without any doubts, the Tank Asymetrique. There have been many different dial and case versions over the years. With Roman – or with Arabic numerals, with baton hands or with Breguet style hands .


The version with the extra lug in the middle, is my favorite Tank Asymetrique.The one in the photograph is a vintage Tank from 1936, while the watch on the right is the re-issue from 2006, photographed on a page from the book; ‘The Tank Watch’ by Franco Cologni.


The Tank Obus had it’s typical shape and lugs already before 1929, but the name Obus was actually given much later. A quite unique case design, with very Art Deco lugs feature this Tank.


Over the years the watch has been in the collection with various dials, while the case was usually square. The vertical case pictured here underneath, (note France on the dial), is very uncommon.



The similarity of this vintage Tank Chinoise from 1930 and the the newer Tank Chinoise (2007) is unique, Breguet hands, the seconds tracking on the inside of the dial and the way the case is build. Just the case dimensions of the newer model are slightly larger.


The newer version was available in platinum or in pink gold.


The yellow gold Tortue Mono Poussoir that appeared in 1997, is a gorgeous re-issuue of the original model. Bigger case, but the same Breguet hands, indexes and dial layout. Just the illustrations in the corners, were left out. The crown how ever, got a saphire, while this vintage model from 1929, had a flat gold crown.


The larger version of this model, that was released just a few years later as the XL
had not such a historic dial, but we’re talking details here.
New for this year is not another Mono Poussoir, but a new large Tortue, in white- or pink gold,
with a very nice, sub seconds at six.



The similarity of the vintage model and the newer 2006 model is gorgeous, something that I only discovered, when the 2006 model was on the market for some time. The Tank MP is photographed here on a photograph from the book; ‘Le Temps de Cartier’ by Jader Barracca, Giampiero Negretti et Franco Nencini.


I have no clue about the dimensions of the vintage model, since I have never seen one in the flesh, but the re-issue has a case of 34mm x 42mm. Like the Tortue Mono Poussoir, the crown on the new model got a saphire.


Released with a 33mm case in 1998, the LC Ronde has a dial
inspired by a pocket watch from 1911. (Made by Jeager)


The 24 hour dial design, seen here on both watches, was used by Cartier on other models
like the Tank Obus and LC Tank watches as well. While the Ronde, as a time only model, has not always be available, there was a new and larger version presented at the last SIHH.


A clean and simple dial in a 42 mm Ronde case. The Ronde and Rotonde de Cartier models are often mixed with each other, but the Ronde is the one with the shorter lugs, the maybe more dressy version, while the Rotonde is more robust and often used for the new complicated calibers.


The Tank Americaine was actually the more modern version of the very elegant Tank Cintrée.
One can clearly see that the design of the watch case has all the elements of this Tank Cintrée
from 1924.


The case is wider and more butch than the Cintrée, but it’s not always easy to seeing
the difference for everybody. Even Auction houses use quite often the wrong names. While Tank Americain models always have baton hands, most Tank Cintrée models have usually Breguet hands. Except for the two time zone models!


The case of the Tonneau has almost been unchanged, while the watch has been in the catalogue for a very long time. Pictured here a model from 1908, with the re-issue from 2006.


Of course there are periods that the watch is not available. There have been many dial changes and we have seen models with baton hands as well as with Breguet hands. The wider strap on the latest model, is a huge improvement, to the looks of the watch. Instead of staying between the lugs, the leather strap also goes a little beyond the lugs. Quite an important detail for this mens watch, since the strap of the vintage model was definitely too thin for todays standards.


The Rotonde is not really a historic watch, the case is new designed and was first released
around 2006, as a time only watch with Grande Date.


The Rotonde ‘Day and Night’ however, does bring back some intersting history, as shown here, where the watch is pictured with a Comet Day & Night clock from 1920. The clock as well as the watch have a sun that disappears underneath the dial, on the right, while at the same time the moon comes up, from underneath the dial, on the left side of the dial.

Cartier had an important collection of clocks at that time, many of them were complications like ‘Jumping hour’ clocks or ‘Day and Night’ versions, like the stunning one pictured above, that dates back to 1913.


Last but not least. Released two years ago as the 42mm Rotonde Heures Sautantes, in white or pink gold, in Cartier’s ‘Fine Watch Making Collection’. For some maybe a very modern watch, but Cartier made already jumping hour watches and clocks in the beginning of 1900, if not earlier.


Pictured here is the current Rotonde de Cartier ‘Heures Sautantes’ and in the back ground a jumping hour pocket watch from around 1920. For me this is one of my favorites from the ‘Fine Watch Making Collection’.

While Cartier is constantly expanding and improving it’s catalogue with new models, like the ‘Calibre de Cartier’, ‘Ballon bleu’, ‘Pasha de Cartier’ and others and developing in house mechanical movements, like for instance the new automatic caliber 1904MC.It’s great to see that the rich archives, that Louis Cartier left, are still a huge source of inspiration, which is part of the success and the this year released Rotonde de Cartier Mystery hour watches are again a prime example. More about the new Mystery timepieces can be found HERE.

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  1. Dino328 says:

    Hi Geo,

    Great article and photos. It really demonstrates how classic and enduring Cartier designs are. It is truly impressive how several vintage Cartier designs have been revived and they look as current and beautiful now as they did roughly 80 to 100 years ago. Some watches can look quite dated after just a few years, but with a Cartier watch you are getting something that combines stylish designs with timeless elegance. Thanks for sharing the origins of several recent offerings from one of my favorite brands.

    Best regards,

  2. GEO says:

    Hi Dino, you are so right. Most brands have a completely new collection and add just some vintage pieces,
    but it almost seems that , from a style point of view, every vintage Cartier lasts ages.

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