I have a liking for ‘mystery dials’, and 2017 has brought with it a rather impressive new one from Cartier, who have combined a minute repeater and double tourbillon into such a watch. Not only this but rather intriguingly, it is in a Grade 5 Titanium case, as opposed to the more popular precious metal for Cartier dress watches with this level of complications.
This is the first time that Cartier has combined a ‘mystery’ complication with a minute repeater. However, rather than the classic floating hands that are the ‘mystery’, on the Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon it is the double tourbillon mechanism that is mysteriously suspended within a round sapphire window at 10 o’clock.
The new Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon comes in a 45mm case that is a svelte 11.15mm in thickness, making it Cartier’s slimmest double complication to date.
The ‘mystery’ part of the watch, in order to achieve that 11.5mm watch thickness, consists of two sapphire discs that are a mere 0.5mm and 1mm thick. In case you are concerned about this, Cartier say that they can withstand shocks of 3,000Gs.
The elimination of the dial and use of a fully carved and open-worked case on the inside was to optimise the sound quality of the minute repeater. Both hammers are visible at six o’clock, and the gong circles the face.
The movement and gongs secured to the case by six screws. Unlike traditional minute repeaters that utillise cylindrical gongs, this new watch features square steel gong. The idea is that this provides a larger contact point for the hammers and to increase the vibration velocity. For those who are interested in these sorts of details, the gongs are tuned to ‘B 5th Octave’ for striking the hours and ‘D 6th Octave’ for the minutes.
Inside is the new 448 part in-house manual-wind Calibre 9407MC which has a power reserve of approximately 85 hours. It is the drive behind the double axis tourbillon – the cage rotates every 60 seconds and the sapphire disc in which the flying tourbillon cage resides, rotates every five minutes.
Most of the bridges and base plate are plated in black rhodium, for a dark grey finish that contrasts with the steel and silvery rhodium-coated parts.
One interesting thing to note is that the activation of the repeater is not via a traditional slide but via a pusher at 4 o’clock.
A quintessentially Cartier way of realising this double complication, the new Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon is a fine looking watch indeed, and slots neatly into their complications, which are my favourite of their collections. It is available in a limited edition of fifty pieces, although there will also be baguette-cut diamond-set iteration in a limited edition of twenty pieces and one that with just baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel will also be available in a limited edition of thirty pieces.