Watches And Wonders 2024: Cartier Tortue Regains Spotlight in Exquisite Privé Collection

THM Desk
9 Apr 2024 |
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Among Cartier's iconoclastic early designs, the Tortue watch unveiled in 1912 stood out for its audacious tortoise-inspired shape. While the Santos-Dumont and Tonneau models preceded it, the Tortue's curvaceous case marked a bold departure from the era's round watches. Often overlooked next to Cartier's legendary Tank, the Tortue remains one of the Maison's most brilliant and enduring creations. With the 2024 Cartier Privé release featuring the Tortue, this unhurried horological hero reaffirms its lasting appeal at Watches & Wonders 2024.

Cartier Prive Tortue

The Revamped Tortue:

For the 8th edition of the prestigious Cartier Privé collection, the brand unveils contemporary interpretations of the Tortue across simple time-only and premium chronograph versions. While retaining the archetypal tortoise silhouette, the new models feature refined proportions. Elongated lugs seamlessly flow into the straps, while slimmer cases lend an elegant lightness.

Cartier Prive Tortue Blue Strap

The hours/minutes versions demonstrate incredible attention to detail. On the yellow gold pieces, the finely-grained golden dials are quintessential Cartier, complemented by sapphire cabochon crowns and iconic blue alligator straps. The platinum models are exercises in chromatic harmony - opaline silvered dials, ruby cabochon crowns, and diamond-pavé buckles create a regal aesthetic. All models, including a 50-piece diamond-set platinum limited edition, are powered by Cartier's ultra-thin manual-wind Calibre 430 MC, optimized for the iconic curved case.


The Monopoussoir Chronograph 

However, the pièce de résistance is undoubtedly the Tortue Monopoussoir Chronograph driven by the Manufacture Calibre 1928 MC. Remarkably, the original 1928 Tortue Monopoussoir was Cartier's very first chronograph. This diminutive 25mm by 35mm watch pioneered the innovative single-pusher concept – with the start, stop, and reset functions all controlled by one pusher integrated into the crown.

Cartier Prive Tortue Silver

It housed a traditional column-wheel chronograph movement with a horizontal clutch, yet stood out with distinctive 1920s design elements. These included a slim hand-carved bezel, matte dial with blocky Roman numerals, chemin de fer minute track and exquisite flame-blued Breguet hands. Produced in extremely limited numbers, an original 1928 Tortue Monopoussoir is an exceedingly rare sight at modern auctions.


The 2024 revival captures the essence of this groundbreaking chronograph in a superbly refined modern form. The legible dial layout prioritizes the monopusher concept, with the rail-track chapter ring on the periphery leaving ample room for the two snailed chronograph counters. Signature flourishes like blued-steel hands, hollowed central chronograph hand, and triangular quarter markers enrich the already scintillating visuals. Yet the real magic reveals itself through the open caseback - the superbly decorated column-wheel choreographing the high-precision levers and springs in a mechanical dance.

Cartier Prive Tortue Maroon Strap

At just 4.3mm, the 1928 MC is Cartier's thinnest chronograph calibre ever, a remarkable feat condensed into a curved asymmetric case only 10.2mm thick. The finissage combines age-old decorations like Geneva striping with immaculate hand-bevelling, brushing and circular graining. The monochrome platinum model juxtaposes rhodium-plating against blued counters, while the yellow gold variant radiates warmth through its honeyed dials and counters.


Final Thoughts!

Limited to 200 pieces each in platinum and yellow gold, the Tortue Monopusher is, in my opinion, one of the haute horlogerie world's most underrated gems. By combining centuries of high-watchmaking craft with a unique curved signature design tracing back to 1928, it achieves a level of aesthetic and mechanical coherence few can match. While the exorbitant pricing limits access, these are ultimately peerless examples of the sheer innovation and avant-garde spirit that defines Cartier at its best.

Cartier Prive Tortue Watches

With this sublime new Privé collection, the iconic Tortue regains its rightful place alongside the Maison's most legendary designs. For the true connoisseur, these creations represent slow, steady genius finally recognized as the timeless classics they are. The race for horological perfection has a new front-runner - unhurried, uncompromising, and entirely unforgettable.