First Impressions: Cartier Privé Cloche de Cartier

Quirky and charming.

Unveiled alongside the fancy Cloche Skeleton, the Privé Cloche de Cartier is the latest vintage design to be revived by the Parisian jeweller. Less famous than the Tank or Santos, the Cloche is nevertheless an original design that quirkier than the typical Cartier case.

Designed in the 1920s and shaped like a bell – cloche is French for “bell” – the Cloche has been a fixture in Cartier’s catalogue for decades, but only ever produced in small numbers, explaining its relatively obscurity. The last major edition of the model was the Collection Privee Cartier Paris (CPCP) limited edition of 2007 – 100 in yellow gold with a silver dial – though smaller runs and custom models were made in the interim.

The new Privé Cloche is offered in three metals – either pink or yellow gold as well as platinum – each limited to 100 pieces.

The Cloche variants. Image – Cartier

Initial thoughts

The Cloche is a quirky but appealing shape that brings to mind “driver’s” watches, but is an original design in itself. The newest iteration of the century-old design is the largest to date, making it a good size for a formal-dress watch even by modern standards.

The case is fairly wide, and also thick enough it doesn’t feel delicate. The only aspect of the design I question is the strap, which feels too narrow, especially on a bare wrist that isn’t under a shirt cuff.

Although the design is classic Cartier, the colours and details give the Cloche a more modern feel. The dials have a matte finish that’s matched with a railroad minute track, which along with the sword-shaped hands give them a clean, vaguely functional aesthetic. That said, the matte dial finish of the platinum model is a bit more restrained than on the gold versions.

While most Privé models tend to have one variant that stands out in terms of appeal, all three versions of the Cloche are equally appealing. I’d be hard pressed to choose between them, although the gold versions have an edge just because they cost a bit less but are equally good looking.

From left: platinum, yellow gold, and pink gold. Image – Cartier

A 1922 Cloche from Cartier’s archive

One element of the case I wish were different is the strap attachment. Although the case appears to have screws on the lugs, they are purely decorative and the strap is held in place by a conventional spring bar. Real screwed bars feel more authentic; failing that, going without the decorative screw heads on the case would do no harm.

The Cloche is pried at US$27,500 in gold and US$31,000 in platinum. While not excessive, it is far from a value proposition, which is unsurprising given the recent faddish popularity of Cartier’s classic designs. In any case, being a good design that’s been executed well, the Cloche will no doubt sell quickly.

Bell shaped

The Cloche case has a relatively small footprint of 37.15 mm by 28.75 mm, but the width gives it a good presence on the wrist. It also helps that the 6.7 mm case thickness is substantial relative to its diameter.

The case is entirely polished, save for the straight flank on the right (where six o’clock is) – a feature catered to the fact that the Cloche can double as a desk clock.

All three versions share the same dial design, although the platinum model has a slightly different finish.

The two gold models have a metallic finish with a radially brushed finish. Between the two, the pink gold version is slightly more striking, because the Roman numerals are printed in a granular, metallic lacquer, while those on the yellow gold version are a flat black.

The platinum Cloche, on the other hand, has a grained, ivory finish that similar to that found on the Tank Cintree 100th Anniversary limited edition, which gives it a slightly vintage appearance.

The platinum Cloche

Like many of Cartier’s recent form watches, including the Tank LC just launched at Watches & Wonders 2021, the Cloche is powered by the in-house 1917 MC. It’s a smallish, hand-wind movement chosen for its size.

But the size that makes it suited to unusually shaped cases also means it has a small mainspring, and so a short power reserve of only 38 hours – which is admittedly enough for what will probably be an occasion or formal-dress watch.

Key facts and price

Cartier Privé Cloche de Cartier
Ref. CRWGCC0002 (yellow gold)
Ref. CRWGCC0003 (pink gold)
Ref. CRWGCC0004 (platinum)

Diameter: 37.15 mm by 28.75 mm
Height: 6.7 mm
Material: 18k gold or platinum
Water resistance: 30 m
Crystal: Sapphire

Movement: 1917 MC
Functions: Hours and minutes
Winding: Hand-wound
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 38 hours

Strap: Alligator with pin buckle

Limited edition: 100 pieces in each metal
From September at Cartier boutiques and retailers
Yellow or pink gold – US$27,500; or 39,400 Singapore dollars
Platinum – US$31,000; or 44,600 Singapore dollars

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