Cartier Introduces Slightly Ironic Cartier Libre Jewelled Watches

Baignoire and Tortue.

Cartier Libre reimagines signature Cartier case shapes as high jewellery timepieces. Iconic designs like the Crash, Baignoire, Tank Chinoise, and Diagonale have all been given the Libre treatment since the line’s launch in 2017. At Watches & Wonders 2021, Cartier debuts the latest Cartier Libre duo – the Baignoire Turtle and Tortue Snake – both jewelled, enamelled, and slightly ironic: a turtle dressed like a snake, and a turtle named after a bathtub.

Initial Thoughts

Extravagantly styled and impeccably decorated, the new pair of watches are whimsical, as the Libre line has always been, but for the first time draw on the natural world for inspiration. Despite being seriously lavish jewellery watches, the two have a sense of humour. Each case shape is inspired by an object – tortue translates as turtle, and bagnoire, bathtub – but each watch is decorated with a motif from something else entirely, bringing to mind surrealist art.

The turtle

Definitely the more glamorous of the two watches, the Bagnoire Turtle is also the more legible of the two, thanks to the use of blued-steel hands that contrast against the diamond-set dial. And it is more convenient, being powered by a quartz movement, though that makes it less appealing to a watch enthusiast.

The Baignoire Turtle is decorated like, well, a turtle. Both the bezel and dial have been divided into pentagonal and hexagonal panels, outlined in blue enamel. The panels themselves are decorated with brilliant-cut diamonds and flat-cut sapphires.

The panels on the dial and bezel resemble a turtle’s shell

The outer edge of the case is rimmed by a black enamel border and paved with with buff-top tsavorites to complete the turtle’s shell look. And the “bathtub” case is rhodium-plated white gold, measuring just over 32 mm in length by 25 mm at its widest point.

The snake

A fascinating creation both conceptually and stylistically, the Tortue Snake has its dial and bezel segmented into hexagonal cells in a graceful, undulating pattern that evokes the scales of a snake.

The cells are inlaid with black and coral enamel, mother-of-pearl, or brilliant-cut diamonds. And in a subtle detail that speaks to the thought put into its design, the hexagonal cells between one and two o’clock as well as seven and eight o’clock form the edge of the case, creating a jagged and asymmetrical case outline that is simultaneously quirky and appealing.

The case is subtly asymmetrical

Notably, instead of the quartz movement found in most high-jewellery watches, the Tortue Snake is powered by the hand-wound caliber 430 MC. Also found in this year’s Santos-Dumont XL limited editions, the movement is actually a Piaget cal. 430P, a compact caliber measuring 20.5 mm in diameter and a mere 2.15 mm in thickness.

My only reservation is legibility – it might be difficult to discern the thin, rhodium-plated sword hands against the backdrop of diamonds and mother-of-pearl. I realise, however, that time telling is secondary function here.

Key Facts and Price

Cartier Libre Baignoire Turtle
Ref. CRWJLI0021

Diameter: 25.47 mm
Height: 7.57 mm
Material: 18k white gold
Gem-setting: Case, dial, and buckle set with 171 brilliant-cut diamonds (0.74 ct), 18 sapphires, and 24 tsavorites
Crystal: Sapphire

Movement: Quartz

Strap: Alligator with folding clasp

Limited edition: 30 pieces
: Starting June 2021 at boutiques and retailers
Price: Approximately US$85,000

Cartier Libre Tortue Snake
Ref. CRWJLI0023

Diameter: 31 mm
Height: 6.73 mm
Material: Rhodium-plated white gold
Gem-setting: Case, dial and buckle set with 130 brilliant-cut diamonds (0.72 ct)
Crystal: Sapphire

Movement: 430 MC
Functions: Hours, and minutes
Winding: Manual
Frequency: 21,600 vibrations per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 38 hours

Strap: Alligator with folding clasp

Limited edition: 30 pieces
: Starting June 2021 at boutiques and retailers
Price: Approximately US$80,000

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