Calibre de Cartier
A review by Robert-Jan Broer
Cartier is probably not the first brand that comes to mind when discussing or just thinking about mechanical timepieces. Although I am not sure whether this statement goes for women as well, I know only few men who have seriously considered owning a Cartier watch.
Although Cartier was the first to create a menís wristwatch in the early 1900s, for most men their focus is probably a bit too much on jewelry and design in general. With the exception of their expensive haute horlogerie line-up by the name of Cartier Paris Collection Privee (CPCP), it seems that Cartierís watches get less credits than they deserve by watch collectors.
Perhaps Cartier felt the same way, or simply thought that it was time to come up with something new for men (since the Santos 100), but during the SIHH in Geneva in 2010, they introduced the Calibre de Cartier.
At the same time, Cartier introduced their new in-house movement caliber 1904-PS MC that belongs to the Calibre de Cartier watches. This is a bi-directional winding movement that measures 25.6mm in diameter and only 4mm in height. Itís dimensions, together with the power reserve of 48 hours and amplitude of 28.800 beats per hour (or bph) reminds me of the ETA 2892-A2, which has more or less the same specifications (it is a tad bit thinner though). While I am not implying anything here, it might be the case that Cartier is replacing the ETA 2892-A2 with this caliber 1904-PS MC movement in the next coming years.
The Calibre de Cartier
Although Iíve seen this watch a couple of times during watch shows in the last year, Iíve never had the chance to try one for a few days. Luckily, a few weeks ago, a brand new Calibre de Cartier came across my path and I was able to give it a spin.
Just like with most other Cartier watches, a lot of effort has been put in the design of the dial of this Calibre de Cartier. The oversized Roman ĎXIIí and the other Roman numerals on the upper part of the dial keep the stick markers and the large seconds sub dial on the lower part of the dial in perfect balance. The only thing I am not sure of is the large date aperture at 3 oíclock, displaying 3 dates at the same time. Weíve seen this on pilot watches before, such as IWCís famous Pilot Chronograph ref.3717. However, I personally donít favor this type of date windows on a dress watch.
Furthermore, the outer circle on the dial with the minute markers are again used on the sub dial, which creates a lot of harmony. One of the things that do bother me, besides the large date aperture, is the SWISS MADE wording in the outer ring. It disturbs the pattern too much in my opinion.
The case of the Calibre de Cartier is definitely masculine with its 42mm in diameter, perhaps even more masculine then their Santos 100 model. Fat lugs and a pair of thick crown guards make this watch remind me of the Luminor models by Officine Panerai, without being a copycat.
Looking at the watch from the side, youíll see the use of screws for the crown guards and the strap. On top of the winding crown, you will see a synthetic spinel cabochon that will remind you immediately again you are looking at a Cartier timepiece. Also, from a side angle youíll notice that the domed sapphire crystal is protected by the sleek bezel around it.
The Calibre de Cartier comes in different flavors, but I had obviously had the one with the leather strap. It is a very comfortable thin strap that suits the watch better than the stainless steel bracelet in my opinion, to each his own of course. In this configuration, you can either choose between a black dial and the silver/white dial that is fitted in this particular model. The gold models also have a brown dial as an option.
At the end of the leather alligator strap is a Cartier folding clasp. The clasp is one of the things that didnít impress me at all about this Calibre de Cartier. Although it fits perfectly around my wrist, the way the long end of the strap is attached to it is worrying me. It is simply fold around the buckle and is not safe guarded by a hole and a pin like we are used to. Although this clasp didnít fail on me during the few days I was able to lay my hands on it, the thought it is not secured does not comfort me.
During the introduction I already elaborated about the caliber 1904 PS-MC movement in this Cartier watch, but on the pictures you can see actually how nice it looks. A plain and simple hhmmss and date movement, with a full size rotor finished with CŰtes de GenŤve. The bridge is finished with the same decoration as the rotor and the main plate has been circular grained.
As Iíve said before in other articles, I am not particularly fond of showing movements that are not THAt special, but I guess there is a certain crowd that likes to glance at the inner workings of their watch once in a while, despite the lack of complications or stunning engraving/skeletonizing work.
All the information you need about this Cartier is engraved in the case back around the sapphire crystal: the material of the watch, the fact that it is water resistant (it doesnít say to what level), produced in Switzerland, the model name, a production or serial number and the fact that it has an automatic movement. Engraving a case back with the wording Ďautomaticí while only 3mm from the automatic movement that can be seen through the transparent case back, seems kind of dumb actually. R&D and marketing fails to communicate with each other once more.
A size comparison shot between my own 39mm AP ROC and this 42mm Calibre de Cartier
In the end, Cartier delivered a timepiece for men without a doubt. Calibre de Cartier is a masculine watch with an interesting in-house movement, superb finish on case and dial and in an interesting price level for a brand like Cartier. For approximately 5000,- Euro (list price), you will own a watch manufactured by a brand that has an impeccable history in watchmaking and you wonít look bad between all the Rolex, Panerai and IWC watches at your office (or wherever youíll see nice watches).
The fact that the strap has been attached in a lousy manner to the clasp is a bit worrying for a watch in this price range, but I donít want to be premature about this as I havenít seen it failing or havenít heard about any problems with it (yet).
It certainly isnít a watch for me, although I was kind of excited about it at first, as the specifications and pictures were promising. The fact that Cartier had made a watch that is masculine, using an in-house movement but yet affordable (kind of) was intriguing, but we didnít connect at all. I could live with the strap and folding clasp if I had too, but the overall look & feel doesnít match me.
All photos by me.
Please let me know what you think about this Calibre de Cartier or Cartier watches in general!