Earlier this week, CEO of Lotus Arts de Vivre Nicki von Bueren together with Hon. Harry Fane, founder of Obsidian Objets d’Art, hosted the launch of the ‘WOMEN are FOREVER – A Vintage Cartier Collection’ exhibition. Here’s a closer look at the story behind the collection, as well as a few of the very special highlight pieces.
For the first time in Thailand, ‘WOMEN are FOREVER’ explores the women’s universe at Cartier, offering an exclusive close-up look into over 34 rare vintage Cartier women timepieces, curated and sought after from all around the world.
Francesca Cartier Brickell and The History of the Woman’s Wristwatch
In attendance at the launch of the exhibition was Francesca Cartier Brickell, a direct descendant of the Cartier family, and author of The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewelry Empire. To an audience of starry-eyed admirers, she held an exclusive talk about the Cartier family story, vintage Cartier pieces, and how Cartier has changed and evolved through and with the times.
After all, women’s fashion has gone though a staggering amount of change since the 1900s. Considering that over the last one hundred years, electricity, telephones, and cars only just came into being, imagine the plethora of changes that came about in the world of fashion as a consequence. From long, restrictive dresses to miniskirts and leggings, women’s fashion changed drastically in comparison to its male counterparts. Nevertheless, what is perhaps most interesting in light of this exhibition, is throughout these changes, women have always worn wristwatches.
It is this aspect that the ‘WOMEN are FOREVER’ Vintage Cartier Collection aims to highlight. It showcases a “microscopic view of change” in the 20th century through vintage ladies’ wristwatches, in and through the eyes of Cartier, the most famous jeweller of the 20th century. In total, 14 extraordinary timepieces are on view, celebrating the “Golden Day” of jewellery-wearing between the 1920s and 1930s with diamond-studded pieces, over to more delicate wristwatches, and everything in between. Notably, the most iconic wristwatch of the 20th century can also be viewed, the famous Cartier Crash. Read on for a closer look at this remarkable timepiece, and a few of the other highlights you must not miss.
Cartier Diamond Crash, 1991
One of the most striking designs in the history of horology, the Cartier Diamond Crash came into conception after Jean Jacques Cartier witnessed a crash between a London double decker bus and a black London taxi. Following this, he set his designers about the task to imagine what the Cartier Tank would look like had it been in a car crash. The result became one of Cartier’s most famous and enduring designs, and became a true icon of London in the Swinging Sixties.
On display at the WOMEN are FOREVER exhibition, this diamond model (including the ‘crashed’ D Buckle) is dated back to circa 1991.
Cartier Diamond and Natural Pearl Lady’s Wristwatch, 1919
Anyone who is a watch collector will know that it is exceptionally rare today to find watches with off-set dials combined with an original natural pearl bracelet. This beautiful and rare timepiece features an oval open dial surrounded by rose-cut diamonds, and a dial with the traditional Cartier configuration, mounted on a woven, grey, natural pearl strap with a fine rose-cut diamond clasp fitting. Why the off-set dial? As tradition back in 1919 dictated, it was considered impolite for women to glance at their wristwatches. Thereby, an off-set dial enabled women to tell the time with a very quick and swift glimpse.
Antique Diamond Set Cocktail Watch, 1929
When it came to designing lady’s diamond wristwatches, Cartier saw no limit to size. From tiny and delicate to large and bold, there was a diamond wristwatch for every taste.
Nevertheless, often times the tinier the wristwatch, the greater the fascination, as the size of the mechanism within the timepiece became nothing short of a marvel. This Antique Diamond Set Cocktail Watch is particularly interesting because the case is set with square-cut diamonds (or carré diamonds) rather than round-cut diamonds. This adds a special brilliance to the timepiece, making it not only elegant, but very unique, too.
Cartier Diamond and Black Onyx Set Wristwatch, 1921
This Cartier Diamond and Black Onyx Set Wristwatch is a fine example of Cartier’s most beloved 1920s diamond set wristwatches. What stands out about this model, however, is how the setting is enhanced through black onyx corner sections. The open square dial is surrounded by rose-cut diamonds and diamond set lugs in Art Deco style, and features a silvered dial with Roman numerals and blued Breguet hands. There is also an inner minute track, or chermin de fer.
Cartier Diamond and Emerald Wristwatch, 1925
A true testament to Cartier’s drive to turn timepieces into jewels and jewels into timepieces, this Cartier Diamond and Emerald Wristwatch is a wonderful example of the watchmaker’s creativity. The lady’s evening watch features a rectangular diamond, black onyx, and Indian-esque pavé-set diamond shoulders. An absolutely stunning timepiece that serves as a fine example of Cartier’s creativity at its height of power in the 20th century.
‘Lotus Arts de Vivre x Obsidian Objets d’Art: WOMEN are FOREVER – A Vintage Cartier Collection’ is available to view daily from November 25 to December 10 2021 from 10.30am to 7pm. The exhibition can be viewed at the Lotus Arts de Vivre Boutique at the Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel.