While it where the Tonneau and Santos (Dumont) that grabbed the headlines during SIHH 2019, another new, significant introduction went almost unnoticed; the fourth generation of Cartier’s famous folding clasp. In 1909 the very first version of this folding clasp was designed by Louis Cartier and Edmond Jaeger (of Jaeger-LeCoultre) who also created the movements that powered La Maison’s creations. While this first version laid the foundations of the concept of the folding clasp as we know it today, it was not adjustable. This meant that the leather strap had to be crafted on the precise length of the client’s wrist. At the time this was not so much an issue because, although world famous, Cartier was still a small family firm.
This changed in the 1970s when the Cartier-family passed on the ownership of the firm, and a global expansion was initiated. As a result, the folding clasp was reworked in 1989 and could now be adjusted on one side. This was a very practical and elegant solution, which retained the slim profile of the clasp, while it could now also be adjusted by the owner, say for example to accommodate the difference in wrist size that some people have between summer and winter.
In this configuration, the clasp would be available for nearly two decades, until Cartier again updated its design in 2008. This third generation was commercially clever, yet in practice not the best-looking solution. By making it adjustable on both sides, the design was even more suitable to accommodate the ready-made straps available through the boutiques, yet it would also result into the leather being folded on the inside of the strap on both sides. This kind of took away from the elegance that every Cartier has.
The new, fourth generation of the strap sets the record straight and goes back to being adjustable on only one side. However, the major difference is now that it doesn’t open by pulling the clasp, but by simply pressing two buttons on the side. This easy to use and very convenient solution has one significant advantage: while it can be used with Cartier’s more elegant and slim creations, it also has a robustness that can keep larger, and more massive watches in place. An additional advantage, although probably only to die-hard Cartier fans, is that the shape of the buckle also once more closer to that of the original design from 1909.
We got to play extensively with the new buckle at SIHH and were impressed by the way its constructed, the ease with it opens when you want it to, and its tight fit for when you don’t. While it is usually the watches that are the centre of attention at the fair, and Cartier had plenty of new offerings to warrant that, this new folding clasp is just as important of an introduction. We for sure cannot wait to test it for a more extended period of time!