Cartier manages to fuse a unique touch of French sophistication with a very liberal attitude towards design. Cartier’s love affair with fascinating shaped watches has lasted for a century and you’d be hard pressed to find a straightforward round watch chez la Maison. Unusual shapes, like the square Santos, the rectangular Tank, the barrel-shaped Tortue, or even the weird and wild 1967 Crash watch inspired by a Baignoire Allongée model that was purportedly mangled and melted in a car crash, have been and still are very much an identity trait of the brand.
Last year signalled the return of the Santos, and in 2019 the mood for nostalgia is still in full swing as we have witnessed with the pre-SIHH release of the Cartier Privé Tonneau watch for men inspired by a 1906 model with an elongated tonneau case. Women are also in for a treat with the pre-SIHH 2019 release of the Baignoire Allongée, a model that literally takes a dip in a sea of precious stones. Presented in white or yellow gold models and limited to 50 watches in each metal, the elongated versions of the Baignoire venture into high jewellery terrain.
A high jewellery bath for the Baignoire Allongée
The precursor to what eventually became known as the Baignoire was designed in 1912 and earned its unusual name in the late 1950s thanks to its strong resemblance to a bathtub. The second part of its name – allongée – refers to Baignoire models with hyper-elongated cases.
The Baignoire Allongée Céladon model is housed in a medium white gold case studded with Paraiba tourmalines, emeralds and brilliant-cut diamonds. Arranged freely around the elongated oval case, the electric blue tourmalines and the intense green emeralds light up the case with an almost aquatic glow. In fact, the stones – including diamonds – on the case remind me of precious barnacles on the hull of a very expensive ship. The large elongated Roman numerals that characterise the Baignoire have been replaced by a deck of brilliant-cut diamonds that echo the shape of the case.
The Baignoire Allongée Black model has an even more radical palette and combines a rich yellow gold case with contrasting black spinels, yellow sapphires and brilliant-cut diamonds. Both models feature a briolette diamond in the crown and come on alligator leather straps; green in the case of the Céladon model and black for its sister. Both limited edition watches are equipped with an in-house manual-winding movement (Calibre 1917 MC) for the hours and minutes with a power reserve of 38 hours.
Each version of the Cartier Baignoire Allongée will be limited to 50 pieces, with prices ranging from EUR 60,000 for the black/yellow gold model and EUR 70,000 for the Céladon model.
Tank Chinoise Red
Two other models, the Tank Chinoise Red and Diagonale, are also included in the pre-SIHH appetisers and have been jazzed up with precious stones to emphasize their unusual shapes. The Tank Chinoise Red is the direct descendant of the iconic 1921 Tank Chinoise with lugs designed to evoke the architecture of Chinese temples. In 2019 Cartier radically revisits the watch with a much longer and more elongated case in white gold transforming it from its original square shape into a rectangle.
To emphasize the Chinese connection and the unusual shape of the case, two lintels of bright red rubies are set at either of the case and framed by black enamel. The brancards of the inky-black lacquered dial are flanked by 164 brilliant-cut diamonds and the dial features two Roman numerals with an elongated VI to replicate the rectangular thrust of the design. The Tank Chinoise Red Watch is powered by a quartz movement. It comes on a black alligator strap and will be a numbered edition of 100 pieces. Price will likely be around EUR 60,000.
Don’t bother hunting for this watch in Cartier’s archives because it is a new creation. Tapping into the sleek Art Deco aesthetic that has worked so well for the brand, the Diagonale plays with geometric shapes. Jazzy black and red enamel lines enhance its contorted features a flourish of 70 diamonds adds a fine jewellery touch. Like the Tank Chinoise Red, the watch runs on a quartz movement and will be limited to 50 pieces at an expected price of EUR 35,000.
More details on cartier.com.