SIHH 2015: Q&A with Cartier's Pierre Rainero

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During the recent Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, Blouin Lifestyle met with Cartier's Director of Image, Style, and Heritage Pierre Rainero: What are the key highlights among Cartier’s offerings this year?

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We have more than 100 new models this year, but importantly, we are presenting a new aesthetic with Clé de Cartier, which is a study on curves. We’ve eliminated sharp edges, the bezel is also rounded and when you look at it from the side, you’ll notice actually two curves. We also have a true innovation with the crown – we’ve changed its shape as part of the overall new design aesthetic, but we also wanted to create a new gesture to rewind the timepiece so instead of being round, the crown has the shape of a sapphire ingot. The idea came from the key of a clock, and you now have a different gesture to rewind the timepiece – you pull it out and turn it, before it comes down gently automatically. Creating new shapes is really part of our DNA. We’re also presenting the use of a new métier d’art on a dial with the filigree technique. Filigree is a technique dating back to ancient Mesopotamia that has been used on silver work, in particular with jewelry, but it’s never been used on a watch’s dial, here in gold. Although we have no tradition of using this technique in jewelry, for us it’s really about bringing this technique into the 21st century and finding a creative echo for today.

What other métiers d’art are you offering?

We have timepieces using micro-mosaic technique (a panther), mixing mother-of-pearl carving with gold granulation and damascening – a technique that inlays different metals into one another that is usually used to decorate weapons. That technique is also new for us on a dial. We get a lot of pleasure working with all these techniques, and of course it’s always a bit of a challenge, which we like. This year, we’ve also developed a new setting we call Vibrant that allows each previous stone – in this case diamonds – to vibrate independently. I defy anybody to create the same setting. Just the beating of your heart will make them vibrate.

What are the key considerations when you work with a métier d’art?

It’s not about using the métier d’art for the sake of using it. It must be part of the overall design and the aesthetic you want to create. I also think it’s important not to do a one-off. There is a gesture to learn, to perfect, and you must give the craftsman the opportunity to develop and continue to work on these pieces. That’s why we’re now regularly producing pieces using micro-mosaic, or we are using again this year the gold granulation which we had first used two years ago.

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Do you see any trends in terms of design?

We’re seeing more ultra-thin complications; I’m not sure if it’s because we’re seeking more elegance here, or more technical innovation with the thinning of the movement. The second trend is the research of originality and creativity with the métiers d’art fitting this search for uniqueness perfectly.

If there was one Cartier watch you would buy this year, which one would it be?

The new Crash Skeleton, although some would say it is a bit feminine. But I love the shape that we’ve produced sparsely; and here the movement has been adapted to be showcased with the skeleton.

As first published in Blouin Lifestyle Magazine