Pre-SIHH 2016: Cartier Introduces its First Self-Winding Skeleton Wristwatch (with Original Photos & Price)

Soon to be officially launched at SIHH 2016, the Clé de Cartier Automatic Skeleton features a newly developed skeleton movement with automatic winding, a first for Cartier. We bring you a first look with original photos, specs and pricing.

Skeleton movements are a favourite of the Carole Forestier, the talented head of Cartier‘s movement development unit. Needless to say Cartier has excelled at creating open-worked movements, with the skeletonised Roman numeral dial (found on the Tank MC Skeleton for example), becoming a signature of the brand. Now for the first time, that distinctive style has now evolved to include an automatic movement with the new Clé de Cartier Automatic Skeleton. The Clé de Cartier Automatic Skeleton is the first open-worked model in the cushion-shaped  Clé de Cartier line that was unveiled in early 2015. It bears all the hallmarks of Cartier’s skeleton watches including the most important: a baseplate that’s open-worked to create oversized Roman numerals, something that’s even found on the asymmetric Crash Skeleton.

The movement is finished with a radial graining and prominent, polished bevelled edges

But the 9621 MC movement in the Clé de Cartier Automatic Skeleton is completely new, being the first automatic skeleton movement developed by Cartier. Based on the in-house 1904 MC movement, the 9621 MC is a large and artfully open-worked movement.

The four screws on the perimeter that hold the movement together are necessary but unappealing since they break up the surface of the baseplate

In order to ensure structural rigidity of the movement, the bridges and baseplate are made of German silver, a copper, zinc and nickel alloy that’s harder than the brass used in typical movements. Just over 31 mm in diameter, most of the space occupied by the movement is empty, giving the watch a high degree of transparency. 

Winding discreetly One of the biggest challenges in developing this movement was to ensure the rotor was both invisible, yet sufficiently heavy to wind the movement, which has twin barrels and a three day power reserve. While most skeleton movements try to minimise the rotor in order to get it out of the way, micro-rotors are a popular but sometimes inefficient solution, the 9621 MC has a full rotor, but one that has been radically slimmed down. Made of 22k gold, the rotor is essentially a semicircular outline with nothing inside. The two supports that extend from the central axis blend into the Roman numerals of the baseplate, cleverly camouflaging the rotor.

This was only possible due to the diameter of the movement, which means that although the rotor is barely there, it is still heavy enough to wind the two barrels completely in 4.8 hours, compared to the 4.6 hours for the ordinary 1904 MC. The Clé de Cartier Automatic Skeleton has a 41 mm case made of palladium, a dense white metal of the platinum family. Like all other Clé watches, it has an oblong crown topped with a blue sapphire insert. In order to ensure the crown is always the right side up, the stem has a built-in, spring-loaded mechanism to pop the crown back into position. Pricing The Clé de Cartier Automatic Skeleton will cost €49,000 in palladium, and €99,000 in palladium set with diamonds on the case and buckle.

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Pre-SIHH 2016: Hands-On with the Cartier Crash Skeleton in Pink Gold (with Original Photos & Price)

Cartier introduces its iconic Crash wristwatch with a skeletonised form movement in pink gold, a limited edition that is the final run of the open-worked Crash. We bring you a first look with original photos, specs and pricing.

Cartier unveiled the first ever skeleton Crash wristwatch in 2015, and the 67-piece limited edition was a runaway success. At SIHH 2016 the Crash Skeleton will return in pink gold, also in a tiny run of just 67 pieces. And that will be it, the end of the skeletonised Crash wristwatch. Born in Swinging Sixties London The origin of the Cartier Crash is anecdotal and slightly macabre, but remains an integral part of the company’s lore. Legend has it that an executive at Cartier London (the London, Paris and New York offices of Cartier were separate entities at the time) was involved in a car crash, producing a completely mangled watch. Originally an elongated oval-shaped Maxi Ovale wristwatch, the destroyed wristwatch was the inspiration for the Crash, first introduced in 1967.

A Cartier London Crash, c. 1972 Credit Phillips

Regardless of the the veracity of the tale, the resulting wristwatch has become one of the iconic Cartier designs. In fact, an original Crash made by Cartier London (shown above) recently sold for over US$140,000 at Phillips’ Hong Kong sale. The final run of the Crash Skeleton The sensuous, asymmetric form of the Crash looks richer in pink gold, with the blued steel hands providing a striking contrast with the warm tone of the case. Not only is the case Dali-esque in form, the contours of the bezel are sculpted, with its profile varying round the watch. While the original Crash was entirely about its aesthetics, the Crash Skeleton is made doubly interesting with its novel form movement.

With the exception of the material, the case dimensions are identical to the platinum model, meaning it is about 10% larger than the original Crash wristwatch. It measures 28.15 mm wide and 45.32 mm long, compared with the 23 mm by 38 mm of the regular Crash. The larger size means it could pass for a men’s watch, though its narrow strap gives it a feminine bent.

Notice the C-shaped regulator index at six o’clock

Mechanically the Crash Skeleton in pink gold is identical to its platinum counterpart, equipped with the 9618 MC movement. Though simple, equipped with only two hands for the hours and minutes, the 9618 MC is one of the more unusual movements of recent years. 

The two barrels are visible at 12 o’clock 

It’s a form movement that’s shaped exactly like the case, with a shape that approximates a kidney. That required some technical contortions, to fit the mechanics into the peculiar shape. Two barrels sit beneath the skeletonised bridges, giving this a respectable three day power reserve. The bridges and base plate are made of German silver, like the movement in the platinum model, but here they are plated in pink gold to match the colour of the case.

The base plate of the movement, which has been skeletonised to form Roman numerals, is actually curved, echoing the curvature of the case. Likewise the mineral crystal in front is curved on two planes, vertically and laterally, requiring heating and pressing by hand to form the unusual shape. Pricing The pink gold Crash Skeleton is a limited edition of 67 pieces. The price will be approximately €55,000, with the exact retail price divulged at SIHH 2016 in January 2016.

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