When it comes to assembling and finishing mechanical movements, numerous brands have mastered the necessary ins and outs, but every so often a watchmaker offers something unique: a rare, one-of-a-kind dial that is handcrafted by the industry’s most highly-skilled artisans.
In 2015, Cartier transformed an old barn in Switzerland’s La Chaux-de-Fonds into its Maison de Métiers d’Arts—a state-of-the-art watchmaking facility and showroom, which is where the watchmaker creates its most exceptional timepieces using centuries-old techniques such as enamel work and gem-setting.
The Ronde Louis Cartier Straw and Gold Marquetry watch is one of two Métiers d’Arts creations unveiled by the brand at this year’s Watches & Wonders, and both depict the iconic panther motif, which was first introduced to a Cartier watch collection in 1914.
To depict the lifelike panther, 65 teeny-tiny blocks of white, yellow and pink gold were individually hand-shaped and polished. Craftsmen then worked to blend the gold and straw together to add depth and dimension–four shades of enamel were used for the panther’s eyes alone.
More than 100 hours went into each 42mm watch (limited to just 30 pieces worldwide), which are set in white gold and come with a grey alligator strap. An in-house mechanical movement with 38 hours power reserve breathes life into this timepiece, which is undoubtedly a true work of wearable art.