Cover Photo: Cartier

This year's big focus for Cartier is its new Pasha collection, but the Métiers d'Art pieces are what stole the show

Any watch collector worth his or her salt is able to shoot off a series of reasons why haute horology matters.

When it comes to assembling and finishing mechanical movements, numerous brands have mastered the necessary ins and outs, but every so often a watchmaker offers something unique: a rare, one-of-a-kind dial that is handcrafted by the industry's most highly-skilled artisans. 

In 2014, Cartier transformed an old barn in Switzerland's La Chaux-de-Fonds into its Maison de Métiers d’Arts—a state-of-the-art watchmaking facility and showroom, which is where the watchmaker creates its most exceptional timepieces using centuries-old techniques such as enamel work and gem-setting.

See also: Watches & Wonders 2020: The Very Best From IWC, Cartier, Montblanc, and More

Unveiled at this year's Watches & Wonders, the Ronde Louis Cartier Straw and Gold Marquetry timepiece is one such masterpiece. Not only does this wristwatch go far beyond the standard expectations of a modern time-telling device, it blends Cartier's decadent history with its manufacture's innovative watchmaking techniques.

The Ronde Louis Cartier Straw and Gold Marquetry watch is one of two Métiers d’Arts creations unveiled by the brand at this year's Watches & Wonders, and both depict the iconic panther motif, which was first introduced to a Cartier watch collection in 1914.

Using an unusual combination of straw and gold marquetry, both of which involve applying strips to form decorative patterns or pictures, as well as enamel filigree, a type of decoration which twists enamel into shapes, 75 carefully chosen blades of straw of various sizes and shades were used to handcraft each watch's dial.

To depict the lifelike panther, 65 teeny-tiny blocks of white, yellow and pink gold were individually hand-shaped and polished. Craftsmen then worked to blend the gold and straw together to add depth and dimension–four shades of enamel were used for the panther's eyes alone.

More than 100 hours went into each 42mm watch (limited to just 30 pieces worldwide), which are set in white gold and come with a grey alligator strap. An in-house mechanical movement with 38 hours power reserve breathes life into this timepiece, which is undoubtedly a true work of wearable art.

See also: Watches & Wonders 2020: The Best New Watches From Piaget To Vacheron Constantin

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