Nowadays people perceive watchmaking in many different ways. Some look at the purely technical side, some value long-lasting history and tradition, some consider only the money. Either way, there are some brands that miss all the credit they deserve just because when you think of them, first things that comes to mind is not watchmaking. It is the case with Montblanc that to some will always be a pen-maker, or with Ralph Lauren, that is probably the best fashion oriented company making watches (quality watches) today. Cartier suffers from being labeled as a jewelry house – and this is highly inadequate. Not only has Cartier quite an impressive history of making timepieces (Tank watch, just to name one), it is also an incredibly impressive manufacture with skills and craftsmanship. Carole Forestier-Kasapi, one of very few women leading a watchmaking house, took care of Cartier’s highly impressive development and significant number of in-house made, complicated pieces. Through the years we witnessed some highly complicated calibers emerging from La Chaux-de-Fonds, but perhaps the one that should impress the most came in a form of Calibre de Cartier – brand’s first in-house made, basic automatic caliber, and a watch.
Debuted in 2009, CdC (Calibre de Cartier) introduced new base for Cartier’s further mechanical developments – caliber 1904. It is significantly more difficult to create a reliable, robust and efficient mechanical movement that could be mass produced in the future, than to make an Haute Horlogerie masterpiece – and this is where the 1904 shines. While many other companies still stick to off-the-shelf movements, Cartier ventured into real “in-house” territory, and did it with style. 1904 is quite thin, automatically wound caliber with 50h of power reserve, 4Hz balance wheel, date and a stop-second. Set of basic but good looking decorations includes Geneva stripes on the bridges and winding mass as well as some perlage. As usual, time will determine if it actually is a reliable and long-lasting engine, I however had no problems with it. It works and sets easily, keeps good time and presents itself nice through the sapphire back.
The best conclusion I can think of for this review is that if not already, you should pay more attention to Cartier’s watchmaking side. If a brand can offer products ranging from the basic mechanical piece (the Calibre) all the way up to High Complications and concept pieces (like the ID Two, using Calibre case made of sapphire) it deserves respect. Especially, if that products represent true value and quality. Calibre de Cartier from this text (steel, leather) costs around 7.500USD and you have to add another 650USD for the bracelet.