Watches: Cartier Rotonde Earth and Moon

By Thierry Ané on December 17, 2013

Every year I look forward to discovering Cartier’s new haute horology timepieces. This manufacture is truly lucky to have someone as talented and creative as Carole Forestier-Kasapi at the head of technical development! Year in, year out, she manages to bring her team to new heights and amazes us with astounding creations. This year’s SIHH previews indicate that 2014 will definitely be another grand cru for Cartier Fine Watchmaking!

Christened the Rotonde de Cartier Earth and Moon, the timepiece I would like to discuss looks as poetic as its name sounds. The first element catching your attention is the deep blue stone dial crafted in Lapis Lazuli. The intense blue of this semi-precious stone combined with the little sparkling incrustations make for a beautiful sky behind the Earth surrounded by Cartier’s characteristic Roman numerals. This stunning white gold grid brings a 3-dimensional effect to this dial.

As always with Mrs Forestier-Kasapi’s creations, this Earth and Moon is not simply aesthetically beautiful, it is also technically complex and exciting. It even hides a world-first: an “on-demand” moon phase indication. You may have noticed the presence of two pushers on the 47 mm platinum case, falsely leading you to believe that you are looking at a chronograph. By pressing one of them, a moving lapis lazuli disc descends over the tourbillon aperture at 6 o’clock. It thus partially obscures the tourbillon carriage to produce the proper crescent of the moon in the sky at that moment: the lapis lazuli disc forms the dark shadow and the remaining visible part of the tourbillon aperture represents the moon. When you release the pusher, the lapis lazuli disc goes back to its hiding place and the watch obviously keeps a mechanical memory of the correct phase of the moon.

In addition to this surprising function, the hand-wound 9440 MC calibre, developed in collaboration with Renaud & Papi, displays the time of the day in an off-centred dial at 12 o’clock as well as a second time zone through the 24-hour disc surrounding the Earth. It can be set by the second mysterious pusher of this watch. Regulated by a flying tourbillon, this impressive movement offers a 3-day power reserve and its stunning monochromatic rhodium-coated finish, visible through the sapphire case back, can make both Carole Forestier-Kasapi and Renaud & Papi proud of their achievement.

Something so complex and beautiful is necessarily rare and expensive. This watch is limited to 50 pieces and retails at €230,000. It is a remarkable timepiece that confirms, if need be, that Cartier is truly at the top of the watchmaking game.

For a technical description of the timepiece and additional pictures: