Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Astrocalendaire Watch Hands-On 1
3 November, 2014 at 8:16 am in Construction
Cartier unveiled a few highly complicated novelties at the 2014 SIHH. Of them we have already discussed the Rotonde de http://www.buyijoy.com/ Earth and Moon Tourbillon and now Ariel has gone hands-on with another tourbillon known as the Rotonde de Cartier Astrocalendaire. The two pieces share several key features: both display the hours and minutes on an off-centered sub dial, both are housed in the same Rotonde de Replica Cartier Montre platinum case - save for two millimeters of difference in diameter - and both are equipped with one-minute tourbillons.
Similarities end right there, however, as both novelties offer a very different approach to catching the hearts - and wallets - of the fans of unique complications. The Astrocalendaire's main feature has to be the multi-tier, concentrically laid out perpetual calendar. As fancy as that sounds, the result is stunningly straight-forward: situated just off the very centre of the watch, three rings are surrounding the flying tourbillon, with each one of them dedicated to the indication of the day of the week, the month and the date, respectively. Owing to this configuration - reminiscent of ancient Roman amphitheaters - Replica Cartier Pasha perpetual calendar offers legibility that few other watch do.
On all three tiers the exact date is marked by blued brackets that seem to float over the rings' markings. Reading information from the three tiers and their rectangular frames does suffer in some poor lighting conditions, but the way the rings are stacked so close together makes for a quicker and easier reading compared to most other calendar watches. Having said that, one indication is missing - although it may not be instantly obvious even for those with a weak spot for this complication -, which is the display of leap years. Visible through the transparent case back, the leap and non-leap years are indicated by a hand set on one of the movement's bridges.
Unusually suppressed by other elements - but positioned in the center of attention nonetheless - is the flying tourbillon, sporting the well-known capital "C" on its bridge. The in-house designed and manufactured movement, titled 9459 MC, is actually assembled in Cartier's haute horlogerie workshop in Geneva and so it is qualified for the Geneva Seal. Since 2011, the Seal not only serves as a testament to the movement's origin and the quality of its finishing, but also includes a test of timekeeping performance. To pass the test, which is a simulation of a full week's wearing of the watch, the movement is allowed to reach a maximum final deviation of 60 seconds by the end of the 7th day. That, though less stringent than the COSC requirements (which allow -4 to +6 seconds per day), still is fairly demanding to highly complicated watches - which the Astrocalendaire undoubtedly is.
Behind its favorable legibility and apparent simplicity, the Astrocalendaire is equipped with a complex system that serves both the protection and the ease of use of the calendar mechanism. What Cartier refers to as a "partially patented gear train mechanism", essentially is a replacement to most levers and springs that are used in the majority of perpetual calendar's mechanisms. The importance of this new system is to be found in the fragility of the more traditional solutions, where one risked severely damaging the calendar by over-winding the movement or trying to change the date "at inadvisable times" - usually a few hours before and after midnight when the mechanism is at work.
As in the case of just about all highly and uniquely complicated Cartier movements, the Astrocalendaire had also been developed by Carole Forestier-Kasapi, the Head of Fine Watchmaking at the brand. Beyond creating the multi-tier display and the protective gear train mechanism for this caliber, she and her team also designed a new setting-mechanism that should make adjusting the calendar's displays easier compared to most perpetual calendar watches. The majority of such watches have a number of tiny pushers set into the side of the case, with which the day, month and other indications can be set.
In the case of the Astrocalendaire, the wearer can set the time, the date and the month through the crown, and do so in both "directions", forwards and backwards. While not completely unique to this watch - or manufacture -, it is a difficult task to achieve such ease of use with a mechanism as complex and fragile as the perpetual calendar. The difficulties involved are further proven by the fact that even in the case of this in-house developed caliber, all but one of the calendar's functions are set using the crown. The day is still adjusted by a small pusher set in the side of the case.
Finally, creating a more balanced look for the dial, the hours and minutes sub dial and the "amphitheater of dates" blend nicely into a discreet 8-symbol, further strengthening the wimpled trend of the use of "8" - a number and figure with special importance to loyal (and important) customers from the Far East. This subtle twist in the dial's layout although certainly brings some balance to it, should make reading the time more difficult between four and eight o'clock. But you can always spend that time just gazing at the flying tourbillon. Housed in a 47 mm wide platinum case the Astrocalendaire is a limited edition of only 100 pieces and is priced at €150,000 or around $205,000.