Zodiac signs, handwriting, snack-food preferences - there are numerous ways to gauge a man's personality. So what does a watch say about the man wearing it? Depending on the particular form, and the intended function, a man's choice of horologe can be an open door to his psyche. Does he sport a 1,000-meter water-resistant Panerai or one of the creations of boutique manufacturer Michel Parmigiani? Does he feel more comfortable with the classic grace and simplicity of a Cartier or does he have a more pioneering spirit, exemplified by his Art Deco Jaeger-LeCoultre? Or is he ruled by the heavens and the more celestial Ulysse Nardin watches. Each watch, like its eventual owner, has its own history and distinct personality. While some are collectible, some purposeful and some engineering wonders, they are all the product of painstaking craftsmanship and superior artistry.
The prestigious, 154-year-old house of Cartier has created many classic timepieces, such as the Tank, Santos, Tortue and Tonneau, and now some models of these famous watches have been incorporated in limited editions known as the Collection PrivËe Cartier Paris.
Inspired by a 1912 Louis Cartier creation, the yellow-gold Tortue has black Roman numerals, a guilloched silvered 18-karat- gold dial, blued steel "apple" hands, and a barrel-shaped case. The sapphire crystal back is transparent, revealing a handcrafted mechanical movement that is numbered and decorated with an interlaced double C Cartier logo. Like all of the other Privée offerings, this $9,500 flagship model boasts an alligator strap and a gold deployment buckle.
The Tortue Monopoussoir, with a single push-piece integrated into the winding crown, is unique. By connecting the chronograph control lever directly to the winding stem and column wheel, Cartier is activating the start, stop and reset mechanisms with one push of the crown.
Another Cartier piece is the 18-karat yellow-gold Tank Basculante watch with a transparent sapphire crystal back. This $11,000 rectangular-shaped watch measures the time with large Roman numerals and blued-steel hands against a guilloched and silvered dial. The case, which pivots on a gold frame by manipulating the sapphire cabochon at the 12 o'clock position, can also be turned over, showing the transparent sapphire crystal back, which displays a gold balancing wheel and other engraved mechanical movement components.
Yet, it's Cartier's Pasha Tourbillon Double C and the Tortue Minute Repeater that are arguably its hot properties. The minute repeaters, with their complicated mechanisms that sound audible reminders of the passing hours, have long epitomized watchmaking artistry. But the $138,650 18-karat white-gold limited-edition Tortue Minute Repeaters (16 pieces) combine a silvered guilloche gold dial with a sapphire- winding crown and a 31-jewel Frederic Piguet movement that produces distinctive high- and low-pitched chimes on the hour, on the quarter-hour, and each minute after the quarter hour is sounded.
The $130,500 Pasha Tourbillon with the Double C bridge and guilloched and blue-enameled detailing in white-gold, is uniquely styled. The visible, 18-karat solid-gold bridge holds all the different components of the movement, including the rotating tourbillon cage (a mechanism that compensates for alterations in the working of the watch caused by gravity).
In late January, Cartier will launch its latest creation, the Cartier Roadster. At $3,750, this sporty, stainless steel watch has two interchangeable straps and features Arabic numerals and the day of the week on the dial. "It's sporty, elegant and masculine," says Alain Viot, Cartier's president. "You'll be comfortable wearing it all day and all weekend." Cartier will follow the stainless-steel version with a $9,900 yellow-gold version.