Last January when Cartier presented it’s new collection of watches to the Trade & Press in Geneva,
there was, for the first time, also a small exhibition of Cartier’s private vintage collection.
It was there where I heard the plan that this little expo could be the base of a touring exhibition on larger scale, that could start somewhere in the world.
Exactly seven months later, the promise became a fact;
“CARTIER TIME ART / MECHANICS OF PASSION” opened it’s doors in Museum Bellerive, in Zürich.
A not too large museum, (part of the Museum für Gestaltung), beautifully located in a park, close to the lake.
Cartier invited a group of International journalists to the museum earlier this week where Pascale Lepeu, de ‘Cartier Tradition’ opened the show and gave us a guided tour along the vitrines with vintage pieces and clocks followed by Carole Kasapi Forestier, ‘Head of High Watchmaking Movements at Cartier’,
Over the years Cartier has done quite some exhibitions, but as far as I know, never just on time pieces. The last exhibitions in Tokyo, Beijing and Prague were all about the entire collection of jewelry,
objects and some time pieces. For the “TIME ART” exposition, Cartier worked again with famous designer Tokujin Yoshioka, who was also responsive for the “The Story Of…” exposition in Tokyo’s National Museum.
which became immediately clear when we entered the rooms where the exposition was held.
Very clear, no nonsense designs and excellent show cases to house the watches and clocks.
Light and glass are always always difficult to handle, but I really loved the way how Yoshioka integrated the lights in the showcases, although the contrast was very, very high to photograph.
On show are 156 historical timepieces selected from the treasures of the Cartier Collection,
that now exists of of total of more than 1400 pieces.
A unique array of vintage Cartier objects, that date from its origins through to the present day.
From a couple of examples of Cartier’s most famous watch, the Santos Dumont,
we saw the 1914, 1915, 1916 and 2004 version,
(Collection Haute Horlogerie) All the high tech pieces from the Rotonde Astro regulator to the
Calibre Astro tourbillon, are here on display.
But also the breakthrough in watchmaking, the titanium Ballon bleu ID-ONE
the first watch that never needs any kind of service, is on display here at the museum.
It’s a concept piece, so the only one available, is now here. The ID-ONE had an entire exposition room for it’s own!
Of course not ever piece can be on display at an exhibition like this;
the watch that I missed was the platinum Santos Dumont from 1994, with salmon dial and Breguet hands, created for the 90th. anniversary of the model.
I tried to make some photographs to give an idea of this unique opportunity to see
Cartier’s Time pieces exposition, but as a reader of this forum, you really should see the exposition in person. Some pictures of clocks will follow later.
Tortue single-button chronograph wristwatch, Cartier New York 1929, gold, leather strap,
LeCoultre cailber 133 movement, (Sold to Edsel Ford sohn of Henry Ford) The Tortue Mono Poussoir was the first watch in Cartier’s CPCP series.
Crash wristwatch, Cartier London, 1967, yellow gold, pink gold, sapphire, leather strap, LeCoultre caliber 840. Quite unique version with London on the dial, from the first year the watch was created by Cartier London. The size difference between the London Crash and the Paris Crash kept many collectors busy but according to Pascale Lepeu there is no size difference between the original ‘London’ version and the later released ‘Paris’ versions.
“CARTIER TIME ART” is a Must See exhibition for every watch collector, certainly not only for Cartier fanatics, but actually for everybody who is interested in the history of watches in general.
It’s Louis Cartier after all who was one of the first to launch the wristwatch and designed famous watch shapes like the Tortue, Tonneau or the Tank, that became a source of inspiration for many other brands. The exhibition is also a unique and only opportunity to see the current complete collection
of Fine Watch Making, since the Boutiques usually have one or two pieces on display, if any at all.
A weekend trip is a good possibility since the museum is open on Saturday and Sunday.