French luxury / Cartier d’Art Koala Rotonde

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Since its inception more than 160 years ago, the great house of Cartier has been creating exquisite objects of wearable art. Continuing this grand tradition are the superlative timepieces from the Cartier d’Art Collection—a series of unique watches that revive and reinterpret some of the finest artistic techniques of all time.

For the Cartier d’Art tenth anniversary last year the French luxury brand has released 6 exclusive models: Turtle (Rotonde de Cartier 42mm, pink gold), White Bear (Rotonde de Cartier 42mm, white gold, enamel), Brown Bear (Rotonde de Cartier 42mm, white gold, wood marquetry), Jaguar  (XL watch, gold), Monkey (Ballon Bleu de Cartier, large model, white gold) and the masterpiece hummingbird (Santos de Cartier, white gold, pearl marquetry).

This year in 2012, the Koala is under the spotlights. With the shine of a brand new material revealed: shimmering straw. Truly innovative, straw sweeps into the world of watchmaking as a precious material, finding a place on the craftsman’s bench alongside gold and diamonds. For a limited-edition series of 20 Koala timepieces.

 

The result is truly amazing and the amount of workcraft behind the watch is just unbelivable…

High-calibre straw is selected for its sturdiness and sheen. The straw is split blade by blade and hammered flat with a burnishing bone, then cut with a fret saw and assembled into a meticulous design.

These are the first steps in the painstaking creative task that will yield the Rotonde de Cartier watch with koala motif and straw marquetry. Blades of straw in different sizes and shades are juxtaposed as tightly together as possible to produce effects of volume and depth. It takes almost 40 hours to complete one dial.

From blonde to brown, the seven different tones of the straw offer a natural golden lustre to demarcate and illuminate the koala motif. This glossy sheen is an inherent quality of the straw: once dyed and assembled on the dial, it is left in its natural state, without varnish or protection of any kind.

A glorious masterpiece to behold, the watch is no easy task to create. It takes a single marquetry master hundreds of hours of meticulous assembling to finish one dial. And with just a few masters of this time-honored craft available for hire, each of these exquisite watches is a true collector’s item.

 

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