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The Cat’s Meow: Panthère de Cartier

Jul 24, 2017

When it comes to designing wristwatches, Cartier has a long history, perhaps even the longest. It was in 1904, when watches resided in pockets, that Cartier created one for the wrist at the request of Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. That original design can still be seen in the Santos watch Cartier sells today. Others, like […]

Ben Bridge Jeweler

When it comes to designing wristwatches, Cartier has a long history, perhaps even the longest. It was in 1904, when watches resided in pockets, that Cartier created one for the wrist at the request of Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. That original design can still be seen in the Santos watch Cartier sells today. Others, like the Cartier Tank, the Ballon Bleu de Cartier, and, more recently, the Calibre de Cartier and the Drive de Cartier, have been milestones in watch design throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. And at this year’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva, Cartier went to its extensive archives and unveiled the relaunch of one of its most iconic designs — the Panthère.

Cartier PanthereThe new Panthère de Cartier can trace its origins to 1914, the year when the company namesake, Louis Cartier, commissioned a watercolor painting of the predatory jungle cat that would become an icon for his brand. Later that year, Cartier himself designed a small round-case watch with a simple Roman numeral dial and breguet hands. He called it “Panthère” — the panther. In subsequent years, Cartier friend and muse Jeanne Toussaint became the house’s first “panther woman,” and that name was also given to several other Cartier creations, from brooches and pendants to jewel-encrusted rings. But as a timepiece, the Panthère would live on to become one of Cartier’s most famous and popular watches.

Cartier has a knack for creating versatile watches that can be both sporty and casual but elegant and refined at the same time, many of whose DNA can be traced back to that first Panthère of 1914. The new Panthère de Cartier, with its century-old shape, holds a tension between the square of the dial and the sumptuous curves at the case shoulders and around the crown. The interplay of shapes is somehow fresh while still instantly familiar, a testament to Cartier’s aesthetic intuition. The clean silvered dial, blue hands, and Roman numerals have a timeless quality — minimalist yet functional, capped with Cartier’s trademark blue sapphire-tipped crown on gold models.

The Panthère de Cartier is designed exclusively for a lady’s wrist, in either 22 mm or 27 mm diameters and a range of metal choices: steel, 18K yellow gold, 18K rose gold, a two-tone steel and 18K yellow gold, and even an 18K white gold version encrusted with diamonds. Playing on the motif of its name, a particularly playful version combines 18K rose gold with black lacquer in alternating links and a patterned dial.

The new Panthère de Cartier is yet another chapter in the long history of Cartier — a history, it could be argued, of the wristwatch itself. It is a worthy heir to the original Panthère, but one that can stand on its own, a timepiece for a new century of adventurous, strong, elegant women.

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