Last year at SIHH 2016, Cartier unveiled a new men’s watch, the Drive, which received a lot of praise and attention here on Monochrome-Watches (see our introductory article and review) thanks to its great elegance and the way it mastered shapes. For us this is what Cartier is all about, a master of shapes and elegance, a brand that can create an unconventional watch that still looks brilliantly classy and understated. Still, for us the Drive de Cartier always had one issue; it’s size. It was just a bit too thick and a bit too large. It seems our prayers have been answered though as this year at SIHH 2017 the Drive de Cartier has been revamped and now comes in its best option so far, the Extra Flat Calibre 430MC.
You see, a watch is not just a pencil line on a sheet of paper. A watch is a 3 dimensional object that needs to be seen on the wrist, and more than its design, it’s the proportions of a watch that create a subtle, elegant and racy piece of watchmaking. The Drive de Cartier is a superb watch. No doubt about it. In the 3-hand, automatic version, it is elegant, masculine and it has a distinctive shape that sets it apart without being all in your face about it. Yet, when it comes to dress watches, our preference here at Monochrome always tend to be towards small and slim. Call us old-school if you like but we think time will prove us correct. A good dress watch needs to be discreet on the wrist. At 41mm x 11.25mm, the standard Drive de Cartier isn’t huge but it isn’t a proper dress watch either. I love its shape but I always wished to see it in a slimmer and smaller case. It’s all about the proportions.
For SIHH 2017 it seems my wish has been granted, as we now have the Drive de Cartier Extra Flat, meaning a slightly smaller (not much, just a bit) and noticeably slimmer case, yet still with the superb Drive shape – a mix of a cushion and a square. Available in 18k white gold or 18k pink gold (too bad for smaller budgets… still, gold fits very well with the concept of this style of watch), the case now measures 39mm across and only 6.6mm thick (thin would be more accurate…). This is where the deal becomes properly desirable. The Drive de Cartier Extra Flat is subtle, elegant, wearable with a tuxedo, a suit or even a casual-chic attire, without losing its presence on the wrist. The proportions are superb. The case is entirely polished on its flat surfaces, while the thin case-band is brushed, enhancing the slim profile. It might not be the slimmest watch around, but anything under 7mm is still pretty impressive.
At 3, we find back the octagonal-shaped crown with sapphire cabochon (Cartier’s signature) while the watch is secured to the wrist by a nicely manufactured alligator leather (also flat and thin, to match the case). The crown is large enough to enable the winding the movement, which is important because there’s no more automatic here, instead we find the manually wound calibre 430MC (Cartier’s version of the Piaget 430p – 18 jewels, 20.5mm diameter, 3Hz frequency, 43 Hours power reserve, 2.1mm thick), decorated in the typical Cartier style (even if not visible, as the caseback is solid). Overall, a reliable and perfectly flat movement.
Alongside its new case, the Drive de Cartier Extra Flat also inaugurates a new dial, which does away with the guilloche pattern found on the standard Drive de Cartier. No more date or small second either, just a discreet 2-hand display. While the dial still relies on the large Roman numerals on the periphery (see the Cartier logo in the VII numeral) and the railway minute track, the plate is now flat and only enhanced by a discreet sun-ray pattern. I know that some people during SIHH 2017 found it too plain but personally I loved this clean and refined look. It never felt boring or too sleek to me. The hands use the classical sword shape and are blued.
Overall, I’m more than happy to see this new Drive de Cartier Extra Flat coming on the market. I’ll repeat myself again, but proportions win over shapes and here, both are perfectly combined to create the best option so far in the Drive collection. The white gold edition of Drive de Cartier Extra Flat will be a limited edition of 200 pieces ($16,700) while the pink gold version will be a non-limited version ($15,600). Cartier.com.