A brand ripe with innovation, creativity, and technical prowess since its inception in 1847, Cartier has built its reputation as both a true manufacturer of haute horlogerie timepieces and as a master of the arts—with a wealth of “firsts” when it comes to designing watch dials. In 2012, Cartier brought us marquetry wood, straw, and stone mosaic dials that captured hearts with stunning renditions of nature’s finest, with animals realized using hundreds of pieces of these materials interlaid. Now, the brand continues with those beautiful artistic dials, along with new renditions.
Besides adding granulation as a dial technique this year, Cartier has unveiled a natural agate cameo dial with a crocodile motif. The limited-edition Rotonde de Cartier Crocodile watch houses Cartier’s proprietary flying tourbillon escapement, produced in-house with the seconds display demonstrated via the C-shaped tourbillon carriage. The visible tourbillon escapement sits on the dial above 6:00 and is surrounded by a crocodile motif in smoky blue and white.
Above the tourbillon is the deftly etched image of the crocodile (a symbol Cartier has long been using). The process for making this dial is similar to creating cameos on shells. In this instance, the artist starts with a thin sheet of blue agate and etches the design into the stone. As layers are peeled away to create the form, different colors of the stone emerge—offering the smoky white hue and darker blue depths. It takes approximately 80 hours to make a single dial, requiring strict attention, painstaking tiny relief etching strokes, and an incredible amount of patience. As such, only 20 pieces will be made. The Rotonde de Cartier Crocodile watch retails for $161,000.