Hands-On – Elegant and Balanced, The Drive De Cartier Moon Phases
At the SIHH 2017, Cartier introduced a watch that I considered a hit (this remains of course very personal), the Drive de Cartier Extra Flat. Slim, refined, elegant, perfectly proportioned, featuring a nice engine… Still, this watch might be problematic for some. Obvious reason: its price. (It’s only available in gold.) Then, it might be too clean, too simple for some. In addition to the existing models (time-and-date and dual-time), Cartier introduced a Moon Phases version of the Drive, which caused quite a few of these arguments to be resolved.
After a few years of hesitation, and watches that were too feminine or unisex (including attempts that failed to stir enough emotions, such as the Clé de Cartier), Cartier announced its comeback to the market of men’s watches at the SIHH 2016, with the Drive – and with it, the return to what Cartier is known for, the mastery of shaped watches. The Drive de Cartier, introduced first in time-and-date and dual-time (plus a rather confidential and not-so-relevant tourbillon version), was a testimony to the brand’s DNA, with a watch that was not round, not squared, not tonneau… but shaped like only Cartier can do. Elegant, masculine, refined, pure, slightly vintage and a bit motor-oriented: a gentlemen’s watch.
After these first editions in the collection, the SIHH 2017 was the occasion of evolutions, including the (to my tastes) superb Extra Flat version – and of course, as always, it came along a few issues. While this slim edition of the Drive might be smaller, more elegant and powered by a Piaget movement, some won’t like its relatively plain dial – there are only 2 hands – making it too understated and some won’t be able to afford it – as it is only available in gold (white or pink) starting at EUR 15,000. However, this was not the only Drive presented at the 2017 watch fair. Another one, perfectly balanced and with just enough complications was introduced, the Drive De Cartier Moon Phases.
No big drama with the Moon Phases version, as the fundamentals of the Drive collection are still present, however this new iteration gains in balance and symmetry, something that was probably missing on the two other standard versions, time-and-date and dual-time. For instance, the time-and-date version has to deal with a date window at 3, which affects the symmetry of the dial. The dual-time, with its large date, its retrograde second time-zone indication and a day-and-night window will please some, and others will dislike its busy and purposely imbalanced dial. The Drive De Cartier Moon Phases solves this, with a perfectly balanced and symmetrical dial.
In terms of case, no evolutions. The Moon Phases edition sticks to the 40mm cushion-shaped box. Available in steel this time – and also in 18k pink gold – it measures 12.15mm in height, meaning that it won’t be a slim watch on the wrist. However, as usual with Cartier, the case has been designed to be comfortable and to feel slimmer than it is on paper, with relatively slim casebands – the thickness is placed on the domed caseback. Short and curved lugs help to position the watch on the wrist, which is more elegant and dressier than expected.
Dial-wise, we note a few evolutions, of course driven by the implementation of a new complication. In place of the small second is now a moon phases indication, with a classical blue and gold moon disc. No more second hand, nor a date window, meaning that this Drive De Cartier Moon Phases benefits from a perfectly balanced dial, symmetrical on the 12-to-6 axis. Furthermore, the moon complication adds a bit of poetry to the watch, which combined with the absence of seconds hand makes it a voluntary slow runner. The dial keeps the Cartier attributes: wave guilloché pattern in the center, large Roman numerals in black (with secret signature at 7) and blued hands.
Inside the case of the Drive De Cartier Moon Phases is the same base movement as the rest of the collection, meaning the automatic Calibre 1904 MC, an in-house developed and manufactured movement. This well-known engine was the first movement entirely made in-house by Cartier. It is shared with the sporty Calibre de Cartier. It sits as a mid-range calibre, with superior finishing (compared to the entry-level 1847 MC) and features a double-barrel, for an increased precision and a 48-hour power reserve.
With this new Drive De Cartier Moon Phases, the Parisian Maison might have the most relevant and most balanced version of the model: elegant, distinctive and balanced, both visually and economically, as priced at EUR 7,600 in steel and EUR 20,400 in 18k pink gold. More details on cartier.com.
Technical Specifications – Drive De Cartier Moon Phases
- Case: 40mm x 41mm x 12.15mm – stainless steel or 18k pink gold – polished and brushed – sapphire crystal on both sides – 30m water resistant
- Movement: Calibre 1904 LU MC – in-house – automatic – 4Hz frequency – 48h power reserve with double barrel – hours, minutes, moon phase
- Strap: alligator leather strap, steel or gold folding buckle
- Reference: WSNM0008 (steel) – WGNM0008 (18k pink gold)
- Price: EUR 7,600 (steel) – EUR 20,400 (18k pink gold)
I have seen and felt the watch and it’s a true beauty. The only problem is how the alligator strap is attached to the clasp: it’s folded. I’ve never seen anything like it and it’s estethically imperfect and not Cartier worthy. Perhaps it wasn’t correctly attached in the Amsterdam Cartier shop, but it was a no-go for me, despite the otherwise true perfection. It is never portrayed in any of the published pictures so I would like to challenge you to have this investigated objectively.