Over the years, Cartier’s singular perception of elegance and its mastery of shapes have remained the driving force behind the brand’s design. The historic Parisian jeweller and watchmaker enjoys an unrivalled legacy in creating fascinating shaped watches. Classic round watches are extremely rare in the brand’s collections, and round Cartier watches almost inevitably come with a twist, like the unapologetically elegant Cartier Pebble “Baseball” that has been recreated in a limited edition of 150 pieces to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Vintage Cartier models are all the rage these days. The latest Cartier on everyone’s lips is the Pebble – also known as the Baseball. And while everyone now seems to be familiar with the model, it is actually a rare, rather obscure model designed by Cartier London in 1972. Still, the model has been reaching impressive prices at auction. One of the very rare known examples was hammered for CHF 403,000 by Phillips in 2021 in Geneva.
There was a time when Cartier Paris, Cartier London and Cartier New York were separate entities, until they were finally reunited in the late 1970s. During the “Swinging Sixties”, London underwent a metamorphosis from a conservative capital into an exciting, trend-setting metropolis. The creative output from the New Bond Street branch of Cartier was remarkable, as evidenced by the surreal 1967 Crash, the 1969 Maxi Oval and the 1970 Double Strap.
Another Londonian creation, the Cartier Pebble combines two of the simplest and most traditional shapes in watchmaking: a circle and a square. However, the magic of the design is how these two shapes have been morphed into a single, highly unusual volume. The rotated square dial opening morphs into a fluid, rounded case that is as soft and smooth as a pebble – hence the nickname. The short lugs are hidden underneath the case (although some versions had visible lugs).
The original Cartier Pebble was 35.5mm in diameter and was powered by a hand-wound JLC movement. The 2022 recreation in yellow gold is a faithful take on the model, yet with slight changes in dimensions (36mm) and proportions. The small fluted crown is set with a blue sapphire.
The eggshell colour of the dial is decorated in the purest Cartier style with Roman numerals and a classic railway track paired with sword-shaped blued hands. Other changes include the font of the logo that has been modernised and the incorporation of the brand’s secret signature (in the VII marker) along with the “Swiss Made” caption.
The watch is powered by the hand-wound 430MC showing the hours and minutes. This small, ultra-thin calibre is derived from the 430P, and it has been used in a variety of Cartier watches, in particular for Collection Privée Cartier Paris models. The movement has a 20mm diameter and an ultra-thin height of just 2.1mm. Running at 21,600 vibrations/hour or 3Hz, its power reserve is 40 hours when fully wound.
The Cartier Pebble is presented on a light brown calfskin strap with tone-on-tone stitching and is closed with a gold pin buckle. An elegant, slightly casual choice that fits the spirit of the watch.
The quirky Cartier Pebble Watch Re-Edition is elegant and aristocratic. It is certainly not a watch for everyone. Like some of the most original Cartier designs (think Crash, Cloche or Tonneau Cintrée), not everyone will feel confident and comfortable wearing such a timepiece. After all, dandyism is a matter of elegance combined with a touch of eccentricity.
The price is set at EUR 40,000, which is certainly on the expensive side (twice the price of Santos-Dumont in gold with the same movement), but these 150 limited-edition Pebble Watches are expected to sell out fast. For more information, please visit www.cartier.com.