During the last 15 years Cartier’s collection of timepieces has changed completely, but more important, so has the brands production process and way of working.
In a nutshell;
Cartier’s former top watch line ‘Collection Privée, Cartier Paris’, launched in 1997, was for 10 years the best the brand had to offer.
The collection was build around the well known vintage case designs like some Tanks, Santos Dumont, Tortue, Tonneau, and extended with more the more contemporary Pasha.
The whole collection, that had a vintage appeal, was supplied with excellent mechanical movements, mostly hand wound; the perpetual Tortue and the Pasha watches had automatic mechanical movements. Most calibers were re-worked movements, supplied by Frederique Piguet, Piaget, JLC, THA ebauche, Gerald Genta and others.
At the time of CPCP, Cartiers production of this kind of ‘high end’ watches was much lower than today and La Maison was not producing all parts, herself and was depending often to third party suppliers. The whole watch market was smaller, ten years ago and demand was pretty different. Some models were limited editions to 100 pieces only, while the production of unlimited models, quite often remained between 200-500 pieces.
It will be no surprise that these watches were pretty rare, even at Cartier’s own boutiques and selected AD’s. Since various companies were involved in the production of the CPCP models, the production and assembling took place at different ateliers at various locations, which made the whole process pretty complex.
While Carole Forestier-Kasapi and her team were already working in the background,
on the successor for CPCP, ‘Collection Privée, Cartier Paris’ came slowly to an end in 2008, when the first piece of the ‘Fine Watchmaking Collection‘ was presented with a ‘bang’ at the SIHH. A 47mm Ballon Bleu Tourbillon watch, with it’s ‘In House’ 9452MC hand wound movement, with the Geneva Seal, was shown to the International Press, followed later on by a series of bold, masculine and complex tourbillon watches.
All with ‘In house’ movements, by Carole Forestier-Kasapi and her team of watchmakers and completely build in Cartier’s own manufacture, located in La Chaux-de-Fonds, at the heart of an area steeped in watchmaking tradition. No more waiting for suppliers, no more various locations, everything under one roof. The Cartier Manufacture is now one of the largest fully integrated production facilities in Switzerland. Dominated by the peaks of the Jura Mountains, this precious glass edifice is a transparent masterpiece that
extends over an area of 30,000 m2.
All areas of watchmaking expertise are represented here, with 175 specialties divided into three major groups: development, production, and customer services. By uniting these activities under one roof, Cartier guarantees control of every stage of production, thus ensuring the everlasting quality of its watches.
Especially for owners and future owners of a watch from, f.i. the ‘Fine Watch making’ line it must be a comfortable feeling that all aspects of the production (and servicing) of a time piece, is all done ‘in house’ now, at the same location.
But that’s not all. Much more than a watch…a heritage.
Cartier timepieces are made to last forever and can be repaired at any time!
As is demonstrated by the earliest Cartier creations, which are already more than 100 years old.
Anticipating the challenges of tomorrow, ensuring the durability of it’s watches and perpetuating its expertise: these are the avowed objectives of the Cartier Manufacture.
To support this utmost commitment, the ‘Tradition Workshop’ calls on time-honoured watchmaking skills and tools to guarantee the repair of any Cartier timepiece, whatever its age or condition!
This is something, not any brand can say and it means that Cartier not only gives the highest priority to further developments in watchmaking, but also that they still fully support their creations from early 1900!
Buying that Cartier vintage Tank from the twenties, or may be an early CPCP watch at an auction, is not something to worry about anymore.