It’s the spirit of the age. The belles of the ball in all their finery have become more discreet and less numerous. High jewellery watches are not the stars of SIHH 2018. Nevertheless, for enthusiasts of exceptional watches, these extremely limited series, some of them one-of-a-kind pieces, continue to cast a spell, standing as they do at the crossroads of high jewellery and watchmaking, sometimes with a little haute horlogerie thrown in. So they are still around, and still as inaccessible as ever. Inaccessible in terms of price, of course, but also in how they are presented. It’s out of the question to actually hold one in your hands, ungloved hands still less.
Often, there might be only one, or two at the most, in the world. That’s not enough to satisfy every request, every avid eye, every curious mind. So there they stay, behind the glass, waiting for a client to ask for a closer look. Then, and only then, will the reinforced glass cage be opened.
Luckily, WorldTempus was there to observe these otherworldly creatures in their natural habitat. Often incrusted with precious gems, and fashioned from white or rose gold, they are showcases in and of themselves. Showcases of the brands that create them, of the creativity of the craftsmen and women who bring them to life, and of a still thriving heritage. However rare they may have become, these pieces bear witness to an inventiveness that continues unabated.
They use the strength of simple shapes, like the Cosmos Secret by Van Cleef & Arpels. They encase the arm and clasp it in a tight metallic embrace, like the Sunny Side of Life cuffs by Piaget. They may extrapolate a brand’s aesthetic codes, like the Cartier Watches Youtube Replica Panthère Hypnose Pendant, or represent elegantly simply geometrical abstractions, like the Kilkti by Hermès, or Cartier’s Cobra Haute Joaillerie.
Cartier Panthère Hypnose Pendant © David Chokron/Worldtempus
Sometimes, they illustrate a complete story, a poetic sketch encapsulated in a diminutive frame of white gold and pure carbon, adorned with sapphires and garnets, like the Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Jour Féerique. In every case, through their meticulous execution, they truly shine, both literally and figuratively.
Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Jour Féerique © David Chokron/Worldtempus
Other, higher-end Tank versions include variations on the form and layout, as well as alternatives such as fancier motions and precious metals. The Cartier Tank Solo is also available in 18k pink gold. The Tank Louis Cartier offers a whole lot of what the Cartier Tank Solo XL does but will be more refined in just about every way, using a Piaget (same parent company, Richemont) base motion inside, and only available in precious metal. Sportier options are located in the Santos and MC families. But, all of these are more expensive than the entry-level Cartier Tank Solo XL Automatic.A lot of different brands offer square and rectangular watches which are at least affected by the Cartier Tank, although few are very successful, it sounds. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is, naturally, another important rectangular, Art Deco watch on the market, but it’s more expensive and really provides a somewhat different appeal. If your Cartier Tank option has to be rectangular, then please try it on first because it’s far more difficult to get proportions and fit right than using a round watch.Another method of appearing at the Cartier Tank Solo XL Automatic will see its competitors as conservative dress-style mechanical watches in the $3,000-$4,000 range, round or otherwise. Dress-style watch choices exist for just about any budget. For those on a much tighter budget, we suggested Orient’s dress watches and looked at a couple of them. I look forward to readers’ suggestions.