With all the uncertainties due to the ongoing pandemic and how it is affecting the traditional schedule for the fairs, brands have taken a variety of different approaches with launching their new collections, some choosing to hold off on announcements, while others have launched all novelties in line with the dates for the now postponed Watches & Wonders. Cartier has taken a balanced approach, releasing some pieces earlier in the year, and a wider selection last month, perhaps the highlight of which is a brand new collection: Maillon de Cartier.
The Maillon Panthère collection has been in the maison’s catalogue for a while -‘maillon’ means link in French -but only as jewellery pieces that are constructed from chains with flexible links, creating an aesthetic impact with its variety of visual lines.
The grand history of watchmaking at Cartier, and of course the legendary design catalogue, mean that the brand has been the definition of style for many. Maillon de Cartier has a vintage structural form that harks back to the Art Deco era, while the hexagonal case and architectural twisted bracelet elaborate the spirit of rhythmic geometry that feels both contemporary and familiar for the grande maison.
Holding Maillon de Cartier in your hands, the bracelet moves smoothly, not only downward to fit the wrist, but also upward, creating a suppleness that makes the model supremely comfortable. The way the bracelet articulates reminds me of the grand and glamorously constructed jewellery pieces from the 50s to 70s, with the influence of Indian style that was so prevalent at the time. The idea of constructing bracelets in a flexible and lively way is not new, but not many have implemented the idea so wholeheartedly in a modern watch bracelet, so it is refreshing to see Cartier do so.
Looking into the bracelet construction, it is amazing to see the clever design. The bracelet looks perfectly smooth, so it takes a while to figure out how the links are connected without distortion. All the links are manufactured in the same three dimensional “H” shape, interlocking with each other, and individual links are detachable with a screw that’s well-hidden to make the bracelet look as one harmonious piece. The “H” shaped links are polished with faceted surfaces that, when combined together, create an amazing impression of depth.
All the Maillon de Cartier watches are equipped with quartz movements; if they had opted for manual-wind calibres, the piece would have been the perfect as a homage to early 20th century Cartier, but in this day and age, it is easy to understand why the decision was made for quartz.
There are five models and two limited editions in the collection, with starting with a model in yellow gold, then white gold and rose gold with a diamond-set bezel complemented by an opaline dial. Finally, there are the diamond-paved bracelets in pink gold or white gold, with diamond-paved dials.
For the special editions, both share exotic looks in different ways: the yellow gold diamond-set version with a black lacquer dial is my favourite and reminds me of the look of a panther, while the white gold diamond, blue lacquer and tsavorite set version brings the feeling of the jungle. They are limited to 50 and 20 pieces respectively.