Nature has played constant muse to horology and its decorative arts, with inspirations taking form in an exhaustive range of subjects that span from highly stylised depictions to realistic portrayals on a surface barely 40mm wide. That in itself is a feat of precision and a reflection of the artisanal effort that goes into each timepiece.
Returning to a subject that has kept audiences rapt since 1914, Cartier flexed its muscles on two new creations in the Ronde Louis Cartier collection that showcase the Maison’s emblematic cat. The Straw and Gold Marquetry watch pairs humble straw (more specifically, 75 different-sized blades of straw in 11 colours) with precious gold (comprising 65 satin-brushed elements in white gold, pink gold and yellow gold) for an intricate bas-relief-like dial that requires 97 hours of work to complete. The panther’s spots and lifelike four-toned eyes are then enamelled to culminate a labour-intensive process, explaining why the 42mm timepiece has been released in a limited edition of just 30 pieces.
The 36mm Enamel Filigree watch continues in that vein with a new spin on an old technique in true Cartier spirit. The three-dimensional dial shows a bejewelled panther prowling amidst bamboo, achieved through the heating of enamel powder before the glass is stretched into shape and fixed to the dial by tiny strands of gold. Putting the finishing touches to the depth perception effect are miniature painting for the sky and domed champlevé enamel for the background.
This article was originally published in Harper’s Bazaar Singapore.