Creative, inventive, fanciful and ingenious, complication watches treat time as a precision science. Dynamic and intelligent, they accentuate, repeat, awaken, and calculate. These watches have the power of reasoning, and the maker must obey an increasingly complex set of parameters.
The perfection of the forms dreamt up and designed by the jeweller, combined with high-precision movements, will remain Cartier’s secret forever. The first watches appeared in the Cartier archives in 1853, and included fob watches either sober1 or more colourful2. At this time, the art of watchmaking was making great strides. Smaller sizes, simpler mechanisms, greater strength and reliability were achieved with small movements, while watches featuring large movements were not overlooked. All functions were tackled, and solutions were explored in the same way that we explore the ocean, the sky, and time itself.
For Cartier, watchmaking was also an exercise in style, creating a setting for time, as displayed by this pocket watch in crystal, platine and black enamel4. A precision object, a piece of art, whose apparent simplicity disguises its complex mechanism. The audacious use of materials, the lightness of the guilloche detail, the luminous presence of a triangular ruby in the guise of a miniature hand, make this a truly modern object of the future.
A pretext for countless creations, the timepiece fired Louis Cartier’s imagination, and he devoted an entire workshop to watchmaking. He added a collection of clocks to his watches, and was particularly interested in the wristwatch. At the time, Edmond Jaeger was one of the best watchmakers in Paris, and was passionate about extra-flat and complication movements. He became Cartier’s exclusive supplier of repeaters, chronographs, fly backs, perpetual calendars and other complications. This passionate collaboration between two highly talented artists spawned some incredible designs, each different, each reflecting a highly individual personality.