Unveiled at the Salon In ernational de la Haute Horlogerie, this awe-inspiring piece is Cartier’s first attempt at granulation with a timepiece.
BY MONICA BULLOCK
Summoning ancient goldsmith’s magic, Cartier overwhelmed an exclusive gathering at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in January 2013 with the unveiling of a new masterpiece. Glistening under the display lights, the Rotonde de Cartier 42 mm Panther with Granulation majestically shone, demonstrating Cartier’s delicate mastery of the Etruscan skill of granulation. Shining back at the array of invited guests was a three-dimensional relief of the brand’s panther icon captured in precisely arranged gold granules on the face of a premium watch. Surely, for those gathered, it was a moment to remember.
The Etruscan process
The art of granulation reached its cultural peak over 3,000 years ago during the rise of the Etruscans. Inspired by Greek artists, the artisans in Etruria searched for new ways to create magnificent details for decorative jewelry and weaponry. Manufacturing perfectly-shaped gold spheres, the Etruscan goldsmiths developed a complicated process that allowed them to carefully arrange the spheres and bond them to gold sheeting. Some of these granulation showpieces appear today in museums around the world. Cartier successfully mimics this process by flame-baking the spheres to the watch dial.
Cartier breathes new life into old techniques
The Rotende de Cartier Panther begins life as a 22-carat yellow gold dial. Not a flat piece, the gold piece has ridges and depth, which give it a suitable base for a three-dimensional finish. Each granule is carefully positioned and expertly placed on the panther’s face so precisely that each sphere catches light that reflects off the gold’s brightness.
The completed face rests inside an 18-carat yellow gold watchcase, which is set with 306 brilliant-cut diamonds. The total carat weight is 3.63. Precisely ticking inside Cartier’s breathtaking icon, is the Calibre ‘9601 MC.’ The adjustable, black alligator skin watch strap accentuates the elegance and beauty of this timepiece. The watch is water resistant up to 30 meters and must be manually wound. This is the design house’s first attempt at granulation with a timepiece.
Kathryn Kinev, graduate gemologist and member of the Gemological Institute of America, has a distinct appreciation for granulation and often uses this precise method when designing the details of her new pieces. Kinev says, “Each individual granule is most likely handmade and sorted for size and placed in an exact location to produce the image. The entire piece is heated to almost melting temperature, until the granules join the bottom piece with a very small filet of gold. If you use too much heat, the entire piece melts. If you use too little, the granules of gold will not from the small joint. ”
When asked specifically about Cartier’s Rotonde de Cartier Panther, “The craftsmanship is magnificent and it takes a very good artist to do that level of granulation.”
The Rotonde de Cartier with Granulation makes a sensational addition to the Cartier d’Art line.
Cartier will only produce 20 of these watches.