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IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XX

Earlier this year, IWC quietly dropped the new IWC Mark XX. No press release, fanfare, or announcement. Honestly, it was kind of refreshing – in a world where brands often seem to shout from the mountaintop about every little tweak made, it felt almost anachronistic for a brand to just throw a new watch on its website, waiting for us to pick up on it.

Well, pick up on it we did, and pretty quickly. For such a simple watch, the IWC Mark Series has always invited as many opinions as there are people, and that’s fair enough for what’s one of the most classic, accessible model lines around. After World War II, IWC (and for a short time, Jaeger-LeCoultre) started producing the Mark XI as a simple, no-nonsense pilot’s watch for the British Ministry of Defense powered by IWC’s vaunted caliber 89. Towards the end of the Mark XI’s run, IWC also produced some for commercial sale. Soon after the discontinuation of the Mark XI, IWC continued the model line with the Mark XII, then the Mark XV, and so on (they skipped 13 and 14 since they’re considered unlucky in parts of the world, so we’ll go easy on them for skipping 19 this time around).
Since we introduced the IWC Mark XX back in July, the brand has filled out the collection to include a total of six variants: three dial colors – matte black, sunburst blue, and sunburst green – with or without a bracelet. I went hands-on with the black and green on a bracelet, alongside the Mark XVIII (and my own Mark XII), and we were able to capture photos of the blue dial on a strap (the photos you see in this article).

Let’s start with the aesthetics of the new IWC Mark XX. Like the Mark XVIII, the Mark XX has a 40mm diameter, but it has a lug-to-lug of 49mm, about 2mm shorter than the XVIII, making for a better-proportioned watch. While the Mark XVIII was on the brink of being too big as an everyday watch (for me), this tweak pushes the Mark XX firmly into “yep, I could wear this every day without really thinking about it” territory.
As with the case, there are some changes to the dial that make it more balanced. Let’s start where I know the opinions will: The date window. I haven’t set a date window since…well, I guess I can’t tell if I haven’t set the date now, can I? But while I might prefer a watch without a date window – I’ve read enough early Hodinkee articles to have been properly brainwashed – it’s never stopped me from buying a great watch that happens to have a date window (more on my love of the properly date-windowed Mark XII below). Since it’s all relative: The Mark XX has a better-executed date window than the Mark XVII. Basically accepting that the Mark Series has to have a date window nowadays for some combination of mostly commercial reasons, the Mark XX’s is pretty good.
IWC, known for its immediately identifiable Pilot’s Watch line, has very subtly released a brand new addition to its Mark collection – which takes inspiration from the original Mark XI. This is the Mark XX, the apparent successor to the IWC Mark XVIII (though we never did get that Mark XIX). This new watch is an improvement in several ways over the XVIII. At a quick glance, you might think you’re seeing the same watch. Look again. IWC has addressed the design and legibility of the dial (including the date window), as well as the capability of both the case and movement.

It measures the same 40mm in diameter as the former model (which is still available from IWC) and has the same identifiable matte black dial and stark white legible numerals. The first change is located right at three o’clock. That’s where the date window has been redesigned from almost hidden black-on-black, to a now white background. This keeps the overall symmetry consistent with the white numerals.

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IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Black Aces

IWC launched a new Spitfire squadron in its collection of pilots’ watches at that debuted in 2019. A self-winding movement from the new 32000 family of manufacture calibers debuts inside the case of the IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Black Aces. We tested one in this feature from the WatchTime archives, with original photos by Olaf Köster.

“Haven’t I seen this watch somewhere before?” You might be thinking this when you first set eyes on the classic IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Black Aces. And you wouldn’t be mistaken because its design is inspired by the legendary Mark 11 from 1948.

In the late 1940s, IWC responded to an invitation from the British government by developing a special wristwatch for Royal Air Force pilots. Production began in 1948 and the first timepieces were developed in November 1949. The model remained in airborne service until 1981. It encased IWC’s equally popular hand-wound Caliber 89, which has a soft iron inner case to protect it against the adverse influences of magnetic fields. The boldly designed dial is clearly legible by day and by night. The Mark XII with automatic movement and date followed, but connoisseurs had to wait until 1994 before it finally debuted.

The name “Spitfire” first appeared at the turn of the millennium with a limited series of 1,000 watches. IWC began manufacturing a series of pilots’ watches named after the legendary aircraft in 2003. With its pale dial, it was regarded as “the more elegant Mark,” but it was somewhat overshadowed by the 14th incarnation of the classic pilots’ watch, which was named Mark XV. Ten years later, the old Spitfire – now a large pilots’ watch with perpetual calendar and a dark dial – approached the classic Mark line, but inconspicuously disappeared under its wearer’s shirt cuff as an elegant three-handed watch with a pale dial. After the Mark XVIII of 2016 and the Big Pilot’s Watch Spitfire of the same year, which were virtually indistinguishable, a symbiosis of the two seems almost logical, while the Mark leaves quietly. The IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Black Aces Mark XVIII can still be found in IWC’s digital catalogs, but only as the edition “Le Petit Prince.”

Caliber 79320 (based on ETA Valjoux 7750) is now ticking inside Le Petit Prince, which sells for $5,250. The new Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire is equipped with new manufacture Caliber 32110. IWC presents two versions: our tested watch with stainless-steel case, black dial and green textile strap for $4,350; and a version with a bronze case, green dial and dark brown calfskin strap for $4,900. These are not only the base models in the Spitfire collection, but they also embody the entry-level timepieces leading into the world of the IWC manufacture. The matte stainless-steel case with its narrow, steep bezel and massive screw-in back has a moderate diameter of 39 mm and is therefore one mm smaller than the case of the Mark XVIII. The height is 10.86 mm, which gives it a sporty look and is also an appropriate thickness for a classic pilots’ watch. Manufacture Caliber 32110 contributes to the case’s height: the movement is 4.2 mm thick. Its diameter is 28.2 mm. Furthermore, Caliber 32110 is equipped with increased protection against magnetic fields thanks to a soft iron inner case and an additional inner back, a detail that was already included in the Mark 11.

My first thought upon receiving this watch for review and double checking its price was that the IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire is a very nice value, almost to the point that I considered shifting gears and writing this post as a Value Proposition, because I think it could certainly be covered from that angle. It makes me very happy to write that, because it takes me back to a time early in my watch journalism career, in the mid-2000s, when one of the qualities I most often associated with IWC was value for money. After all, IWC is the brand that gave the watch world its first affordable splits-second chronograph and an affordable-ish grand complication. The no-nonsense IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Black Aces tool-watch style that was there from the early days feels especially present in this product. As configured here, the Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire costs just $4,450, and for that you get a whole heck of a lot.

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Piaget Altiplano Tourbillon High Jewelry watch

Jacob & Co., Harry Winston, Van Cleef and Arpels… There are plenty of brands that were crafting exquisite jewelry well before delving into serious watchmaking. Two more stand out beyond the others, though: Bulgari and Piaget Altiplano Tourbillon High Jewelry watch. The two brands have been dueling to make the thinnest mechanical watch for over a decade, trading the title back and forth several times. And while Bulgari seems to be getting a lot of the spotlight these days (likely given its sportier designs and where the market is right now, Piaget’s timepieces continue to amaze. Its Altiplano collection, which includes its efforts at making the world’s thinnest watch, is an ever-expanding catalog of elegance. Building off the two existing moonphase models, the new Piaget Altiplano Moonphase watches once again combine the brand’s haute joaillerie craft with its horological prowess for four stunning new models. The new Altiplano Moonphases are housed in a svelte 36mm case that’s just 9.78mm-thick. The case comes in 18k rose gold or rhodium-plated 18k white gold and is set with 48 baguette-cut diamonds around the bezel and 12 brilliant-cut diamonds split amongst the straight lugs. The pull-out crown at 3 o’clock is set with a sapphire glass endcap engraved with a P (for Piaget!); not surprisingly, this jewelry watch has just 30m of water resistance. Depending on the model, the watch is paired with a quick-release alligator leather strap with a pin buckle closure in matching metal adorned with a further 14 brilliant-cut diamonds. The form of the case is nothing remarkable (save, perhaps, for the blocky drop at the lugs’ termina that feature on all Altiplano models), and that’s exactly what you want when you’ve got such showstopper dials.

Four dials are available between the rose gold and white gold cases; providing pleasant contrast, the rose gold cases have white gold dials, while the white gold cases offer rose gold dials. The dials are split into two sections. The upper portion of the dial depicts the night sky, with a rainbow of gemstones set against a speckled blue enamel background. Hiding in the sky of each dial is the outline of what Piaget calls “Guardians,” one of four animals representing a cardinal direction and associated with one of the four seasons of the year: the Azure Dragon of the East and Spring, the Vermilion Bird of the South and Summer, the White Tiger of the West and Autumn, and the Black Tortoise of the North and Winter. Adding a bit of intrigue, the Chinese constellations, or Guardians, are all rendered in luminous paint, coming to life in the dark. The bottoms are engraved with what Piaget calls “Palace” decoration—that random-looking striation that resembles wood grain. Add to that patterning scattered diamonds and streaks of contrasting gems, and the overall effect is one of a dazzling meteor shower falling out of the sky above. The dial is completed by the namesake moonphase display: a large aperture at 6 o’clock is partially ringed by diamonds (more diamonds!) and shows the moonphase disc, which is made of a lumed white material and aventurine glass. Two final diamonds are waiting for the owner, covering the fasteners of the Piaget nameplate below the moonphase. One could reasonably argue that with such a dial, a display caseback would be a bit extra. But Piaget has done just that, with a sapphire crystal showing the in-house Piaget 580P Altiplano caliber. The movement features a 360-degree rotor with a deep-blue enamel crescent moon with the Piaget coat of arms (though my first thought was of the Star Wars Rebel Alliance insignia). The 580P has a power reserve of 42 hours at 21,600 vph, with 25 jewels and a hacking feature. The movement is decorated rather underwhelmingly: Côtes de Genève, circular-grained mainplate, beveled bridges, and blued screws—sure. But if you have a dial like these watches and choose to show off the movement as well, shouldn’t the movement be spectacular, too? Instead, we have a “fun” rotor on a movement that looks like an off-the-shelf Sellita. Imagine how elegant it would have been to inlay the enamel crescent into a solid rose gold or white gold caseback!

There’s another angle here that isn’t explicitly mentioned by Piaget: These models seem geared toward the burgeoning Chinese market, where individuals with vast sums of money are buying luxury goods left and right while living in a country and culture steeped in tradition and symbolism. (To be sure, TAG Heuer, IWC, and Cartier have all tipped their hats to the Chinese market this year.) Piaget’s stunning use of Chinese guardians plays to that market, while the resplendently elegant watch allows for a conspicuous display of wealth and success. By making the guardian depictions almost hidden, though, Piaget has crafted four new models that can be appreciated fully by just about anyone.

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Cartier Santos-Dumont watch

Following the recent revamp of the Santos family, Cartier used SIHH 2019 to announce a new but related line, the Cartier Santos Dumont . Classically sized, thin, and available only on a leather strap, the Santos-Dumont is a beautiful expression of the Cartier design language and, thanks to its use of a quartz movement, is offered at a price point not common to the Santos, all while maintaining that very appealing wrist presence.

With few exceptions, my personal preference in watches tends towards the more affordable and accessible side of the market. I like a wild complication and precious metals just fine, but my own collecting and buying habits inform a closer eye on watches on the entry-level side of luxury. As such watches are in limited supply at SIHH, it’s exciting when a comparatively accessible new watch is announced, even more so when it’s from a brand like Cartier.
While I recognize that many reading this may disregard the Santos-Dumont because of Cartier’s choice to use a quartz movement, I think there is a lot here to like (including the movement). The Santos-Dumont comes in two sizes, a smaller option at 27.5mm wide (38.5mm lug to lug), and a larger version that is 31.4mm wide (43.5mm lug to lug). Just 7mm thick and mounted on an alligator strap, both sizes wear well, but the slightly larger model looked more contemporary on my seven-inch wrist (you can see both sizes on-wrist below). Given the classic Cartier styling, I think either size could work for most wrists and for both men or women. Additionally, given the square case, both models felt a bit bigger on wrist than those dimensions would suggest.

With options in steel, two-tone, and full 18k rose gold, the look is dressy and elegant, but not at all fussy. Like many of the more simple designs from Cartier, the Cartier Santos Dumont has a versatility and style that is at home with a suit but not out of place with a more casual outfit. Given the (comparatively) smaller sizing of both models and the thin case execution, the Santos-Dumont wears really well and the 18k rose gold model is sure to elicit a smile as you put it on your wrist. Where these new Cartiers become more noteworthy is in their use of a quartz movement and the resulting entry-level price point. Displaying just the hours and minutes, Cartier Santos Dumont has fitted a custom “high-autonomy” quartz movement that offers six years of battery life. Quartz will be a no-go for some (and the brand makes all sorts of mechanical models), but as a relatively commercial offering that is meant to be simple and easy to wear, quartz makes sense. Similar to the value statement of the quartz-powered Tank Solo, think of the Santos-Dumont as a grab-and-go workday watch or maybe even a reliable and fuss-free dress watch option for those who might rarely dress up. As the entry point for the Santos line, the Santos-Dumont will also function as many buyers’ initial introduction to Cartier watches.
In 2019, Cartier released the Santos Dumont line of watches with quartz movements – then followed that up one year later with a string of mechanical, limited variations. This year, the brand has added more limited goodness to the line (but don’t worry, there’s one non-limited model, too).

The 2022 Cartier Santos Dumont collection comprises three watches meant to invoke the spirit and style of the watch once worn by the eponymous Alberto Santos-Dumont. But ol’ Alberto never had options like these. Each of the limited watches brings together a mixture of color and metal. The variations are burgundy and platinum, beige and gold, or black and steel. All of them are coated with a thin layer of lacquer, then smoothed, and finally polished by hand.

The platinum model comes fitted to a burgundy strap, the gold has a green strap, and the steel gets a black strap.

Each watch is presented in the large, 43.5mm sizing with the Cartier manufacture manual winding 430 MC movement. The platinum watch is limited to 150 pieces while the gold is limited to 250 pieces. The steel and black variant will be a regular production model. All of the pieces will be available in November of this year.

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Piaget Polo Perpetual Calendar Obsidian

The Piaget Polo watch of 1979 was Piaget’s highly successful sporty-chic watch accounting for nearly one-third of the company’s sales in the 1980s. Following a radical makeover in 2016, the cushion-shaped Polo has appeared with mechanical complications, high and low, and even skeletonised high jewellery models. As a master of ultra-thin movements since the mid-1950s, last month Piaget added an ultra-thin perpetual calendar complication to the Polo mix inside a 42mm stainless steel case. Piaget is also synonymous with colourful semi-precious stone dials and, as the owner of the largest jewellery workshop in Geneva, gemstone setting is also an integral part of the brand’s DNA. Two models, one in pink gold with a green dial and an exceptional white gold model with a blue obsidian dial and blue sapphires, enrich the Polo collection.

Sharing identical specifications to the steel model launched in March 2023, the Piaget Polo Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin comes in the typical cushion-shaped stainless steel case with a flat round bezel. It has a 42mm diameter, a height of 8.65mm and 30m water-resistance. The 18k pink gold model shares the same emerald green dial as the steel model with its signature horizontal gadroons. The perpetual calendar layout, with the month and leap year indicator at noon, the date at 3 o’clock, the day of the week at 9 o’clock and the moon phase at 6 o’clock is also identical to the steel model.
Employing Piaget’s long-standing experience in stone dials, the blue model features a mysterious silvery blue obsidian dial framed by different-sized blue sapphires in dark claws set in the bezel. Produced when lava from a volcano cools rapidly, obsidian is a form of volcanic glass. The natural iridescence found in the obsidian dial of this watch is formed when drops of mineral-rich sulphide liquid are trapped in the rock as it solidifies, a phenomenon that ensures that no two stones are alike. The movement powering the perpetual calendar functions is Piaget’s in-house calibre 1255, based on Piaget’s famous, ultra-thin (2.35mm) 1200P automatic calibre with a perpetual calendar module. Thanks to the incorporation of a micro-rotor, this automatic movement has a thickness of just 4mm. With a frequency of 21,600vph and a power reserve of 42 hours, the perpetual calendar function won’t need adjusting until 2100. The pink gold model is presented on a textured green rubber strap, while the white gold comes on a blue alligator strap with an additional rubber strap. The Piaget Perpetual Ultra-Thin models have the brand’s SingleTouch interchangeable strap/bracelet system.

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Panerai Luminor Submersible 47 S Brabus Experience Edition

As the luxury watch industry continues to intersect with the automotive world, renowned Swiss watchmakers are releasing exclusive examples with inspiration from the most popular supercars on the market. Responsible for modifying Mercedes-AMG, Porsche, and Rolls-Royce models with performance upgrades, the team at BRABUS pride itself on continuing its ongoing horological partnership with Panerai. After two successful releases, the dynamic duo is proud to reveal the new Panerai Submersible S BRABUS Experience Edition as the third to its trio of automotive-inspired dive watches. The Carbotech case of the Submersible S measures a robust 47mm, with a signature red bezel and an inner ring that pays homage to the German tuning company.
The Panerai Submersible S BRABUS Experience Edition features a skeleton dial that showcases a stripe pattern, representing the typical BRABUS design pattern found on the grill of its supercars. Panerai powers the watch with its new in-house P.4001/S movement, utilizing GMT functions to accurately indicate a second timezone. Commemorating the stunning interior designs of BRABUS vehicles, the Submersible S BRABUS Experience Edition comes fit on a black perforated leather strap with vibrant red contrast stitching. The all-new Panerai Submersible S BRABUS Experience Edition is limited to only 22 pieces and is currently available through an authorized dealer with the price upon request.
Cooperation between Panerai and German after-market specialist atelier Brabus, famous for its bold and high-tech approach to re-design and tuning powerful machines, seems a natural fit. Brabus editions of cars and boats are not meant for the faint-hearted. And the Panerai Submersible collection with combat-ready-looking watches offered in case sizes measuring 42mm, 44mm and 47mm is not created for a milquetoast. And at 47mm, the new Panerai Submersible S Brabus Verde Militare PAM01283 is certainly part of this breed.

This new addition to the Submersible S series launched in collaboration with the Brabus Marine is already the fourth in line. The exceptional Experience, Black Ops and Blue Shadow models were released in the previous two years. The Panerai Submersible S Brabus Verde Militare is similar to the 2021 Black Ops edition, with a skeletonised movement and well-designed open dial. It is sporting new colour accents to match the paint scheme of the boat that inspired this creation – the Brabus Shadow 900 Stealth Green, built by Axopar Boats based in Finland.
The large 47mm case of the Verde Militare Panerai Submersible S BRABUS Experience Edition PAM01283, the unidirectional, anti-clockwise rotating bezel and the trademark Panerai crown protection and locking mechanism are made of Carbotech. This material is lighter than titanium and highly resistant to corrosion. The dark carbon composite surfaces show rather subtle wave-like patterns; together with the military green-coloured hands, indices and crown, they convey a camouflaged appearance, which never goes out of style. The watch has 300m of water-resistance and offers a GMT function and an “optical polar date”, a date window display at 3 o’clock with no visible date disk underneath. This effect is possible because the date wheel and the date window are angled 90 degrees and act as polarisers, and there is a reflector – a piece of polished metal to assist. It is quite an innovative solution, and Panerai engineers and designers proudly mention its name in white print on the dial’s outer green flange. The GMT hand indicates a second time zone, the day-night indicator you see at 9 o’clock, and the steering wheel-shaped bridge with the Brabus logo not to miss at 7 o’clock. You will also find the Brabus text logo on the crown locking lever and the titanium DLC-coated caseback. The caseback features a see-through sapphire and offers a view of the P.4001/s automatic skeleton GMT movement, not so much revealed dial-side. The tungsten rotor catches the eye, with other elements, like the net of bridges, the mainspring barrels, the red triangle of the 3-day power reserve indicator and the Glucydur balance creating a pleasing but still stealth-inspired image.

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Cartier La Panthère de Cartier

LUCCA, Italy — Entering the Villa Reale di Marlia here, one could easily have believed you had just stepped foot into the world of “Bridgerton.” The 17th century estate, complete with a lush park punctuated by sculptures, lemon gardens, a small lake and the sound of a quartet of violins filling the air, is a lesser-known Italian beauty that has eluded the attention of even many locals.

The picture-perfect spot and idyllic mood came second only to Cartier La Panthère de Cartier new high jewelry collection that was revealed in the villa’s frescoed halls on Wednesday.

After taking press and top clients to Lake Como two years ago, the company returned to Italy, opting for the Tuscan town of Lucca, a 90-minute drive from Florence, to showcase more than 80 never-before-seen pieces.

Talking with WWD, Arnaud Carrez, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Cartier International, offered several reasons that prompted the decision. He pointed to the long-lasting relationship Cartier has with the country and the pivotal role of the Italian market, both in terms of business and image building. As reported, the company’s ties here have been recently strengthened with a new plant in Turin, which added to frequent product launches as well as to Cartier’s involvement in the artistic and cultural tissue of the country via the sponsorship of the Venice Film Festival and the partnership between Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain and Triennale Milano.

More specifically, the history of Villa Reale di Marlia itself intertwines with the brand’s. After being purchased by Napoleon’s sister Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi in 1806 and being greatly renovated, the property passed to the Pecci-Blunt family in 1923. Through her social events, countess Mimì Pecci-Blunt started attracting artists, aristocracy and jet-set personalities to the location, ranging from Salvador Dalì and Jean Cocteau to Jacqueline Kennedy, to name a few.

“Many of our clients have spent a lot of time in this villa, especially in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The Pecci-Blunts used to be between Paris and Villa Reale and they hosted many parties with many of our clients attending it, so that’s a nice story for us,” said Carrez, crediting as further evidence a recently purchased book belonging to the family with pictures of such gatherings.

Dubbed “Le Voyage Recommencé,” Cartier La Panthère de Cartier high jewelry collection was meant to evoke this continuity as well, reinterpreting the brand’s own history through a contemporary filter for today’s customers.

Rather than choosing an overarching specific inspiration, Cartier’s director of high jewelry creation Jacqueline Karachi and the company’s craftsmen delved into the heritage and reinvented the core aesthetic codes of the house through unique pieces that hinged on interplays of geometries, volumes and new chromatic juxtapositions.

“It’s very consistent in terms of philosophy with what we’ve done in these decades in high jewelry and at the same time it has a new approach on the key themes,” said Carrez, mentioning architecture, nature and dialogue between different cultures as recurring references. “I think this collection pays tribute to this permanent quest for beauty and is again a true testimony of our ability to reinvent ourselves and being very true to our founding identity at the same time.”

Emblematic pieces in the Cartier La Panthère de Cartier collection were the Claustra platinum necklace covered in diamonds, including a remarkable 4.02-carat specimen standing at the center of its geometric and pointy structure. Onyx alternated diamonds and openwork further enhanced the game of perspective and volumes and nodded to Cartier’s signature black-and-white combinations that were first introduced at the beginning of the 20th century. Adding to the technical challenge, the piece was also transformable as the necklace could be split into two separate ones.

A similar transformable feat also defined the Girih necklace, whose central pendant showcasing an oval-shaped emerald could be detached and worn as a brooch. Nodding to Arab mosaics and palette through its geometries and charming color mix of green and turquoise, the piece was intended to celebrate one of the pillars of Cartier’s style — the Islamic art and architecture that Louis Cartier first discovered in 1903 through an exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

Ditto for the Panjara necklace in diamonds — including a rare brown type as centerpiece — and onyx, which was inspired by the light filtering through mashrabiya, a traditional Arab architectural element. Other Middle Eastern nods defined the Sama creation, evoking the dresses of whirling dervishes with its swirling structure in white gold and diamonds that converge around a 19.27-carat Ceylon sapphire.

Elsewhere, the Vespro necklace further built on the game of contrast between static structures and movement with its beaded tips, while the Panthère Givrée necklace celebrated the spirit animal of the jewelry house, introduced in 1914 by Louis Cartier. The realistic shape of the feline covered in diamonds with onyx spots and emerald eyes was flanked by a set of three aquamarines totaling 20.33 carats as well as lapis lazuli for a touch of color.

As usual, the design of each piece was determined by the features of the key precious stones. For example, a rare 0.92-carat gray-violet diamond stood out for sitting on the statement Ondule ring and inspired its bold appearance. Resembling the effect of throwing a stone in the water, concentric lines developed around the centerpiece, with the effect enhanced via diamonds cut in a half-moon shape.

With the appetite for Cartier La Panthère de Cartier high jewelry booming and Cartier’s commitment to improving ethical, environmental and social practices throughout the industry — as embodied by the partnership with Kering on the Watch & Jewelry Initiative 2030 — Carrez identified sourcing as the main challenge for the sector.

“It’s a constant challenge because we are obsessed about finding the nicest stones. We have some very strict guidelines criteria and we are committed to finding the most beautiful natural stones and at the same time to comply with principles not only in terms of quality, but also in terms of provenance,” said Carrez, mentioning decisions not to source from some countries, such as Afghanistan in the case of lapis lazuli. “Plus, with the market being vibrant there is a competition for sourcing precious stones, so the expertise of our buyers is so important… We have people from the stone purchasing department who have been with us for decades, so they have an extensive knowledge… and we’ve built some very strong and solid relationship with our partners. And the fact we have also this unique image in high jewelry, it helps.”

Without disclosing figures, Carrez underscored the dynamism and vitality of the high jewelry category impacts both Cartier’s key current markets — such as the U.S., China and Middle East — and new ones, mainly in Southeast Asia.

“We see new regions growing fast…A few months ago we organized an event in Bangkok and had clients coming from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and also Australia,” said the executive. South Korea and Japan, where the company has been focusing with dedicated events for the past decade, are also becoming increasingly relevant for the brand’s high jewelry business.

Carrez also noted that especially in these countries the average age of customers is lower compared to the established ones. In general, he said that already half of the brand’s overall customers are Millennials and Gen Z-ers.

“The share is already high and it’s even higher in some regions. Especially in Asia, we are already perceived as an aspirational brand… for watches, jewelry and sometimes for fine jewelry and accessories. When we look at Cartier’s iconic collections, they are by essence transgenerational, so they do cater to multiple generations. We are not obsessed about [young generations]. We cater to multiple clienteles, including young clienteles, but we don’t have specific collections for them and this is not our intention,” said Carrez.

Cultural and social factors are affecting the geographies of the brand’s high jewelry customers, instead. The executive noted that these kinds of pieces are more challenging to wear in Europe due to a reduced number of special occasions as well as the overall social and economic context, “inducing some of our clients to be cautious and have a more subdued approach,” he noted. Conversely, social events in the U.S., Asia and Middle East spark the demand for such creations.

“That’s why events like this one [in Lucca] are very important for clients. It’s not only for commercial reasons but they are also an opportunity to wear their pieces, which is very important for them,” noted Carrez.

To further celebrate the high jewelry collection, the brand will host a special gala dinner at the Giardino Corsini location in Florence with some of its international ambassadors in attendance.

After hosting top clients in Lucca and Florence, the Italian experience of the brand will continue in Milan with events dedicated to its VICs. Other activities in the country will see Cartier returning for the third year as sponsor of the Venice Film Festival, running Aug. 30 to Sept. 9, and next year taking part in the Homo Faber cultural event celebrating craftsmanship.

Also next year, a new production site in Valenza will be ready. It will be just shy of 55,000 square feet, for up to 180 employees, up from around 40 in the existing one in Valenza.

The Compagnie Financière Richemont-controlled brand has been directly manufacturing in Italy since 2013, when it purchased one of its partners, which itself had absorbed Turin-based jewelry atelier Marchisio, open since 1860.

Cartier currently counts nine manufacturing sites, including Turin, Valenza, its Paris high jewelry ateliers, as well as its Swiss watchmaking plants in La-Chaux-de-Fond and a historical 40-year-old facility in Fribourg.

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Cartier Baignoire

Geneva—For those who prioritize style over a watch’s mechanics, the revamped Cartier Baignoire is calling.

Created in the early 1900s, “baignoire” is French for “bathtub,” an allusion to the watch’s oval dial and sumptuous rounded oval bezel.

The 2023 quartz-powered version sees the bezel even larger, which is in line with the chunky gold metal trend seen in fine jewelry from the likes of Brent Neale or Jessica McCormack.

To make it even more jewelry-like, it’s attached to a bangle rather than a traditional watch bracelet, though there’s a black leather strap version, too.

It’s available in rose gold and yellow gold for $11,800 or white gold with full diamond pavé (seen below) for $48,800. With fashion and watch enthusiasts alike buzzing over the new Baignoire debuted at Watches & Wonders Geneva, expect it to join the ranks of Cartier’s most popular timepiece styles in the future.

Speaking of which, Cartier also showcased updates to its classic “Tank” timepiece.
It’s quite remarkable how a completely ordinary object can sometimes become the inspiration for a truly extraordinary creation. Cartier’s iconic Baignoire watch is one such classic example. It was in the early 1900s that Louis Cartier created the first model of this series by modifying the traditional round shape of the dial into an elongated oval form. His inspiration? The common bathtub, or ‘baignoire’ in French. While the initial shape of the early Cartier Baignoire watches was quite simplistic — two parallel lines joined by curves at the top and bottom — the appearance kept evolving with time. And it was in the 1950s that the more familiar oval form, currently popular across the world, came into being. It brought along with it a smooth, sophisticated gold border that wrapped seamlessly around a dial featuring Roman and Arabic numerals. This new Baignoire watch, with its classic elegance and feminine allure, was an instant, phenomenal success.

Over the years, while the design of the Cartier Baignoire watches has remained more or less true to this earlier version, the timepiece has, nevertheless, continued to evolve, not only in terms of new technology, but also aesthetically. The newer models in the Baignoire series, for instance, became increasingly glamorous, sensual and luxurious. Conveying a sense of effortless grace and French chic, the watches became a statement piece for women with a deep understanding of fashion. The rocking years of the 1960s brought in yet another creative innovation — the Baignoire Allongée. Born in the workshops of Cartier London, to the tunes of ‘Swinging London’, this new timepiece enthralled with its sleeker, longer shape that extended almost possessively across women’s wrist. Seductively refined, this alluring piece proclaimed its bold character with extravagant panache, by presenting a gold border liberally studded with exquisite diamonds.The original 1950s model and its variants, as well as the later Allongée models are all part of the current range of stunning Baignoire watches by Cartier Baignoire. The former comprises two versions — a small, yellow gold-rimmed model with a taupe alligator leather strap, and a 228-diamonds-encrusted model, set in a white gold case with a dark blue alligator leather strap.The glittering Allongée series comprises of several models, lavishly decorated with brilliant-cut diamonds, set in a white or rose gold case. The shimmering glory of these breathtaking timepieces is beautifully complemented by the quiet elegance of grey, taupe or dark-blue leather straps. Except in the case of one ravishing, white gold model that enhances the desirability quotient by offering a diamond-studded bracelet, as well — with 894 sparkling diamonds, this one is a true masterpiece among equals.

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Cartier Tank Normale

Each year Cartier fans watch in anticipation for the unveiling of the maison’s newest watch in the Privé collection, a selection of limited-edition numbered watches for what the brand calls “the collectors’ collection” of its most historic and “mythical models.” And nothing is more mythical than the Tank that started it all, the watch now joining Privé, the Tank Normale.
The original Cartier Tank Normale was designed by Louis Cartier in 1917 and released in 1919, taking cues from an overhead view the Renault tanks turning the tides of World War I trench warfare at the time. It’s a brutal (literally) inspiration for what would become one of the most iconic designs in watchmaking history, not to mention a jumping-off point for Cartier with its many variations of Tanks that would follow.

It seems fitting that after a long wait, the Normale joins those other variations (and other iconic watches) to bridge the gap between Cartier’s past and present, alongside the Crash, Tank Cintrée, Tonneau, Tank Asymétrique, Cloche, and Tank Chinoise.

This reissue of the Cartier Tank Normale has many of the iconic features of the original from 1917, with the same proportions and beveled sapphire crystal, a beautiful Roman numeral dial with inner railroad track and the 1917 date hidden in the VII numeral, and satin-brushed case and “brancards” that contrast against the polished chamfers.

The proportions are upsized from the original 27mm x 19mm to a more modern 35.2 mm x 27.8 mm. The yellow gold Normale comes with a blue sapphire cabochon and a brown alligator strap, while the platinum has a ruby cabochon winding crown with a black alligator strap. Each is limited to 200 pieces. But there’s more.
To bring this watch into the modern era, Cartier is making 50 more Normales in yellow gold and platinum with their signature skeletonized movements, both of which feature color-matched accenting on the bridges of the 24-hour movement. That’s right, while the minute hand goes around once every hour as normal, the hour hand goes around the dial once every 24 hours.

To make matters more confusing, the 12:00 position is still at the top (unlike most 24-hour dials that start at midnight). Daylight hours are at the top half of the dial marked by sun-shaped bridges, night at the bottom with crescent moon accent.

And if that’s not enough, there are also 20 pieces announced of a diamond-set platinum skeletonized Normale as well. How wild. In a first for the Privé collection, the yellow gold and platinum Normale will both be available on matching metal bracelets – only 100 pieces each. For collectors or admirers of vintage Cartier, this is often seen as the pinnacle of historical collecting. The brushed satin case continues down to the brushed satin bracelets, nearly seamless without being completely integrated.
Pack it in, folks, with these releases I might as well be done with Watches & Wonders for the year. I’m kidding, but only slightly – this release was one thing I hoped to see from Cartier, and boy did the brand deliver and then some.
The Cartier Tank Normale has been a sleeper for some time, produced only for two years on its original release. And while the more masculine size of the Cintrée and bold design of the Crash made them collecting darlings, the Normale deserves credit for starting it all. I know a lot of collectors have been waiting for Cartier to kick-start the Normale again to round out the Tank collection, and I can’t imagine they’ll be disappointed.

Cartier is all about the details, and the choices like the satin-brushed brancards and beveled crystal immediately got love from collectors I spoke to since the announcement. The skeletonized option itself wasn’t out of left field, per se, but the 24-hour complication (inverted top to bottom, as well) was certainly a surprise.

I do wish the brand had used “Breguet” hands to harken to the original instead of the “epée” hands from the 1940s Normales. But that’s far less important than the design feature that really makes the piece: the bracelet. I am a Cartier Tank Normale bracelet nut. I’ve spent days of my life researching, studying, trying to understand the development of Cartier’s bracelets since the 1920s. A platinum Tank with this style of bracelet is – and I know this term gets thrown around too much but excuse me while I use it – my grail.

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Cartier Tank Américaine

Cartier introduced the Cartier Tank Américaine back in 1987 as a more modern, aggressive take on its signature model that dates back to 1917. For 2023, Cartier has updated the Tank Américaine to make it a little thinner, slimmer, and curvier. As with many Cartier design updates, these small changes make for slight, noticeable improvements to a classic design. It’s what makes the Tank the Tank, and why it’s looked more or less the same for more than a century.

The new Tank Américaine comes in three sizes: mini, small, and large, and two metals, pink gold and steel. If you want, you can add diamonds or a bracelet to the mini and small pink gold Américaines. There’s also a mini white gold with a bracelet and a lot of diamonds that Malaika’s already covered.
I spent most of my time with the large Tank Américaine in steel and pink gold, which measure 44.4 x 24.4mm (the small measures 35 x 19mm, the mini 28 x 15.2mm). While the smaller sizes are quartz, Cartier’s put an automatic movement in the large models. The most noticeable difference compared to the previous Américaine is the thickness: the new large model measures 8.6mm thick, down 1mm from the previous generation. When the Américaine was introduced in the ’80s, it was a reference to the Tank Cintrée, and making the new Américaine thinner brings it closer to this historical reference (even if the 100th anniversary Cintrée was a mere 6.4mm thick).

While it’s nice Cartier keeps an automatic movement in the large Cartier Tank Américaine (and I understand the target consumer probably values the practicality of an automatic), I’m prone to romanticizing a manual-wind Tank, and it would’ve been awesome to see Cartier say “to hell with practicality, let’s put a manual movement in the large and small Américaine.” This could’ve made the case even thinner, too, but now I might just be asking for a Cintrée in an Américaine’s clothing.

Other changes to the case and brancards (sides) make everything about the new Tank Américaine slightly slimmer, thinner, and sleeker. This all brings the Américaine just a little bit closer to the Cintrée, while still maintaining its own identity. While the previous large model was a bit big for my wrist, these changes to the case made it much more wearable. The small also worked on my wrist too, but I couldn’t help but think that the large wore like an Américaine is supposed to wear – larger, a bit cuff-like, but all the while draping to my wrist.
The other noticeable change on the new large Tank Américaine is the vertically brushed dial. The smaller versions still have sunray finishes, but Cartier’s opted for a different dial treatment for the large versions. It’s something Cartier also added to the updated Tank Française this year, and I think it works better on the large, long surface of the Américaine. It accentuates the shape of the watch and reminds me of some pretty sweet limited editions Cartier’s produced in the past few years (like the collection for Singapore Watch Club).
Oddly, Cartier did away with the medium Cartier Tank Américaine , a watch we took for A Week on the Wrist back when it was released in 2017. It leaves a bit of a hole in what I think might be the Goldilocks zone for a lot of people: The medium measured 41.6mm long, and now there’s a gap from 35mm (small) to 44mm (large). At least, it left me feeling a bit stuck in between. The small was comfier for me, but the large fit what the Américaine is supposed to look like, even if a touch too big for my wrist. That said, the slimmed-down case makes the large Américaine much more wearable than the previous version. Still, it left me wanting something in-between. But for many, the large size will work great.

And that’s also not to say there’s no historical justification for the sizing: The large Tank Américaine is about the size of a large vintage Tank Cintrée, and the small version is about the same size as the mid-sized vintage model. If the Américaine is supposed to reference the vintage Cintrée, it seems Cartier’s getting literal with its sizing too, and I can’t knock it too much for that. Cartier introduced the Tank Cintrée (literally “curved” in French) in 1921, the first curved case for the Tank. It was a very 1920s watch, and while the style fell out of favor soon after, it was eventually brought back and has remained a mainstay of Cartier’s catalog ever since. Nowadays, it feels like something of a crown jewel of the Tank collection: introduced in anniversary or limited editions that are as beautiful as they are hard to get. Because of its size, it’s also the Tank best suited to modern tastes.
But because the Cintrée is mostly reserved for the types of collections we collectively drool over on Instagram, the Tank Américaine is the curved Tank for the rest of us. It was introduced only in yellow gold in 1988, but when Cartier introduced it in steel in 2017, it became one of the best “entry-level” Tanks out there. The large steel Américaine will set you back €5,600 (about $6,100). It’s basically the same price as a Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36, and it seems like that’s a natural watch people would cross-shop this with, for the set who just want a nice, stylish watch with an immediately recognizable design that they can wear pretty much any day (the Cartier Tank Américaine has 30m of water resistance). As you might expect from Cartier, the Américaine comes on an alligator strap, but I can’t help but think it’d feel at home on something more casual.

This year’s updates to the Cartier Tank Américaine make everything about it a bit more Cartier. It’s just a little more slim, elegant, and wearable, but to many, the changes will hardly be noticeable. And that’s kind of the point.