Cartier - The Hong Kong Watch Auction: TWO Hong Kong Monday, May 30, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Cartier
    Year: Circa 1950
    Case No: Cartier hand stamped numbers 01'004 and 01'973
    Material: Gilt and rock crystal
    Calibre: Mechanical
    Dimensions: 84 mm. width, 84 mm. length and 9 mm. depth
    Signed: Dial signed, case with hand stamped Cartier numbers
    Accessories: With Cartier original fitted presentation box.
    Literature: For another example of a rock crystal strut clock, please see The Art of Cartier, page 258.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Cartier has been manufacturing some of the finest, and most elaborately decorated clocks for over one hundred years. Their clients have included Queen Mary of England, Maharajah Bhupindra Singh of Patiala, John Pierport Morgan, Jr and even socialite Barbara Hutton.

    Cartier first started selling watches in 1853. At the time, the movements were supplied by Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin. Cartier would further decorate the watch with gemstones and precious metals, retailing the watches in their Paris boutique. It was not until Louis Cartier started at the firm that Cartier began to realize their potential in designing and manufacturing some of the finest clocks and watches of the 20th Century. Louis Cartier believed that a clock should be a precious decorative object.

    Maurice Couët exclusively supplied Cartier with miniature clocks starting from 1911. The first mystery clocks, such as Model A, date as early as 1912. At the time, Cartier revolutionized the clock business by incorporating every facet of their sophisticated technology to clocks. These workshops drew inspiration from many different parts of society and can be seen in the following 4 examples. Two clocks are made very much for the Russian market and the rock crystal and shutter clock appear to be inspired by magic or magicians who had a new place in society at the time that they were made. The pair of early clocks, the minute repeating desk clock and rectangular nephrite clock were made for the Russian market to compete with Fabergé, as Cartier was desperate for the Russian Imperial Court and Tzar Nicholas II's business. The guilloché enamel and the use of nephrite hardstone can be seen in Cartier's and Faberge's creations during this period. The rock crystal desk timepiece takes inspiration from magic as the dial would appear floating from the air, which by itself creates an optical illusion and the shutter clock creates the concept of the illusion, keeping the time behind a pair of trapped doors.

    The name Cartier evokes a sense of glamour and style. Indeed, many of the jeweler's creations remain incredibly original today.

    When Cartier began to manufacture and create their fabulous clocks, their competitor, Fabergé, was considered the world's leading authority in the art of guilloché (Russian ray pattern), the use of vibrant colors such as violet and green and the use of gemstones. Louis Cartier was desperate to be the official supplier to the Russian imperial court and Tzar Nicholas II. To achieve this, Cartier took heavy inspiration from Fabergé. When one looks at clocks from this period, one can see the results from this influence.

    The following four clocks give the slightest glimpse into the history of the Cartier clock. Each different in their design, they all evoke a sense of originality and glamour that the Cartier clock symbolizes today.

    Cartier is well known for its incredibly decorative and complex clocks. This rock crystal and gilt clock, manufactured in the mid-20th century, is retained in extremely well preserved condition and still retains its original Cartier fitted presentation box.

  • Artist Biography



    With the Constitution of 1848 came a new standard for luxury in France. Founded one year prior by Louis-Francois Cartier, the house of Cartier was one of the first to use platinum in jewelry making. This incredibly expensive material became the stepping-stone for Cartier to experiment in form, mechanisms and attitude. It helped men move from pocket watches to wristwatches, effectively making the watch much more functional and prominent in a man's overall wardrobe.

    Cartier did not only touch on functionality. Inspired by a commissioned painting by George Barbier featuring a black panther at the feet of an elegantly bejeweled woman, Cartier began incorporating wild animals in his designs—most notably, Cartier Panthère rings, bangle bracelets and watches. Yet it wasn't until the late 1960s that the house of Cartier debuted their iconic yellow and rose gold LOVE collection, which includes the famous bracelet that only a special screwdriver can open. 

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A fine, rare and unusual gilt and rock crystal desk clock with strut and original fitted presentation box

Circa 1950
84 mm. width, 84 mm. length and 9 mm. depth
Dial signed, case with hand stamped Cartier numbers

HK$64,000 - 96,000 

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi
Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2001

Ziyong Ho
+852 9386 2032

Jill Chen
+852 2318 2033

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: TWO

Hong Kong Auction 31 May 2016