Cartier Tortue Monopoussoir - 13 Rue de la Paix - One of only 13 - Full set
13, rue de la Paix
The Parisian address that is to Cartier what this limited-edition Tortue Monopoussoir would be to any collector, connoisseur or simply starstruck lover of Cartier horlogerie: the ultimate match.
A timepiece as elusive as it is desirable takes its pride of place in the market spotlight after numerous years of absence. An ultra-rare, seismic appearance which leads us over that figurative edge and into the freefalling cascades of full-on horological beauty, excellence and remarkable exclusivity.
Limited to just 13 examples, these exquisitely special Tortue Monopoussoirs were released in 1999 to celebrate a significant milestone for Cartier: the 100-year anniversary of its immeasurably treasured boutique in Paris, 13 rue de la Paix. The most precious address, which holds a simply priceless position within the Cartier story.
Louis Cartier (1875-1942), one of the main catalysts for Cartier’s success, would convince his father to move their shop to the luxurious Rue de la Paix in 1899. It was here, in the refined elegance of central Paris, where those scintillating sparks of Cartier magic would really start to dazzle the eyes of Parisian high society. 13, rue de la Paix would bear witness to all the significant comings and goings of the brand as it grew: the very first wristwatches were made here, Louis Cartier and Jeanne Toussaint would establish their offices here and numerous celebrities, politicians and royalty - such as the eternally elegant Grace Kelly - would make a point of visiting 13, rue de la Paix. It became the place to connect with the mesmerising world of Cartier.
In early 2021, Cartier's oldest and most prestigious boutique was closed for renovation. Yet from the way in which it was closed, it is possible to understand just how treasured 13, rue de la Paix is. Not satisfied with just a simple cover to conceal the building works, Cartier commissioned an almost exact replica of the actual façade of the building in order to shield the renovation. The replica took over a year to create and involved an array of professions and trades including architects, artisans, artists, engineers, sculptors and painters - as well as remarkable attention to detail.
With this acute care and curation for a temporary façade, the actual renovation was bound to be stratospheric.
Three teams of architects were tasked with rethinking, redesigning and refurbishing the six floors of sacred space at '13 Paix'. Drawing inspiration from the Cartier archives and collaborating with French artisans of excellence, the extensive work took nearly two years to complete. Under an azure evening sky in late October 2022, almost precisely 123 years since the boutique's very first opening in November 1899, the exuberant and glittering inauguration of Cartier's new-look "mythic temple" illuminated the historic Rue de la Paix.
With a blitz of media frenzy, with the warmth of gold and adoration galore, 13 Paix's priceless position within the Cartier story - past, present and future - was fabulously re-confirmed.
A masterclass from the Parisian jewellers on how to celebrate in style.
The centenary of 13, rue de la Paix in 1999 called for something special. To mark the event in a suitable fashion, Cartier launched not just one but four limited-edition anniversary watches. Two Must de Cartier Tanks, one large and one small - both limited to 100 pieces. In an even more exclusive tribute to the boutique, 13 examples of a Cartier Driver were created, together with the 13 pieces of the all-round, exceptional Tortue Monopoussoir presented here.
A watch that right through from its rasion d'être to its origins, striking aesthetic and mechanical prowess has simply kaleidoscopic historical value.
The Tortue design originated in 1912 and was just the third wristwatch to be designed by Louis Cartier. While the Tortue never garnered the same hype as the Tank would in later years, it did - and still does - strike a chord with Cartier enthusiasts. Its unique form made it the ideal model to become one of the very first Cartier timepieces to incorporate a complication and in the late 1920s, Cartier released its first Tortue Monopoussoir. A chronograph operated by a single push-button, contained within the crown: one push to start, a second push to stop and a third to reset. A neat, chic complication that is seldom seen - even today. When it came around to the creation of the now highly-regarded Collection Privée Cartier Paris in the late 1990s, one of Cartier's first timepieces with a complication was a must to revisit. Two versions of the CPCP Tortue Monopoussoir were released in 1998. One in yellow gold limited to around 400/500 pieces and one in white gold, limited to around 200/300 pieces. Both, understandably, are highly coveted timepieces.
Then came the celebration of the 13 Paix century. Cartier took this already historically charged timepiece, gave it a whole new dimension of incredible heritage and infused it with any collector's dream aesthetic - a stunning salmon dial encased in 18k white gold.
An absolute rarity for Cartier, salmon dials are seen on Cartier pieces only for special occasions and are always attributed to very low, limited production pieces. Not only has the dial been afforded this striking colour but every millimetre of the dial is covered in engine-turned guilloché decoration evoking that sense of limitless, euphoric celebration. Rosette guilloché extends from the centre to the edge of every part of the dial, contrasted only by the circular guilloché finish of the two, fractionally sunken subdials. When the light strikes, the dial softly glistens with varying golden hues - those scintillating sparks of Cartier magic at their very finest.
Its dramatically contrasting, entirely polished white gold case measures a distinctly comfortable 43mm x 34mm and sits at 10mm in height. The dial markings are printed in black and almost identical to the original 1928 dial design. The chronograph second markers and the time minute track form the very outer ring of the dial configuration, Cartier's traditional Roman numerals occupy the next ring and are slightly raised as well as faceted and lacquered, adding further substance and texture to the dial. At the 3, we see the subdial which displays the 30-minute counter of the chronograph function and at the 9, the subdial which keeps track of the running seconds.
Just as they did on the 1928 original, Breguet hands mark the hours and minutes. All five hands on the watch are fashioned from eye-catching, luminous blued steel. In contrast to the 1928 dial there is a 'Swiss made' printed below the 6, a Cartier secret signature at the 7 and 'Cartier Paris' sits just below the 13.
Yes, a 13 which beautifully eclipses the 12 and whose form elegantly mirrors the gold 13 adorning the black marble entrance of Cartier's 13, rue de la Paix. For the spectacular reopening of the Rue de la Paix boutique in 2022, Cartier launched a new commemorative set of limited-edition watches which also incorporated this novel replacement of the 12 with a 13. A platinum Tonneau, Tank Asymétrique and Cloche - all with silver dials and all limited to 13 pieces. However, the centenary anniversary watches - to which this Tortue Monopoussoir belongs - were the very first set of anniversary watches ever made for the treasured boutique, and therefore the very first to incorporate this novel, subtle yet extremely stylish replacement of the 12 with a 13.
The faceted crown is classic Cartier with its sapphire blue cabochon and on the signed caseback of the watch, amongst the expected hallmarks and references, the engraving of the timepiece's limited-edition number is to be found. Printed on the sapphire glass of the caseback, a commemorative caption reads "1899-1999, 13 rue de la Paix" - a golden reminder of just how precious a piece of Cartier heritage this is.
François-Paul Journe, Denis Flageollet (co-founder of De Bethune) and Vianney Halter. Three of the greatest, current independent watchmakers. Three names that provide yet another enthralling dimension of horological heritage to this eminent timepiece.
Before each of these gifted creators embarked on their distinctly individual path, an exciting - yet relatively fleeting - collision of their talents would leave its definitive mark on the history of modern watchmaking. In 1989, with the freedom, fearlessness and boldness of youth, Journe and Flageollet founded Techniques Horlogères Appliquées or "THA" and were joined soon after by Halter. THA ideated, created and produced movements for a number of the major brands, including Cartier and Breguet. With these three innovative and outstandingly bright minds driving THA, absolute exceptionality in the company's production was the order of the day. Absolute exceptionality which is clearly evident in one of the most notable and important THA creations - the creation found inside this Tortue Monopoussoir - Calibre 045MC.
A 157 component, manually-wound movement, which is constructed in such a way as to allow an entirely unrestricted view of every aspect of its ultra-smooth workings. The movement incorporates a clutch system and double swivel pin that eliminate the frequently seen 'jolt' of a chronograph's seconds hand. Each click of the crown displays an absolutely faultless reaction. Precision, sensitivity and clarity are all defining characteristics of Calibre 045MC. The movement contains 22 jewels, has a frequency of 21,600 vph and a power reserve of 40 hours. Flawless mechanics are matched with a flawless hand finish: straight and radial graining can be seen on the wheels and levers, while the base plate is brushed and decorated with circular graining/perlage. The art of anglage defines the bridges, which are also engraved with the Cartier double-C cipher. This calibre is 25.6mm x 3.8mm worth of staggering watchmaking.
A highly exclusive movement, Calibre 045MC was developed specifically by THA for the relaunch of the Cartier Tortue Monopoussoir. The only other known occasions of its use are in the Cartier Tank Monopoussoir, as well as the De Bethune Monopoussoir models DB1 and DB8.
How it wears
If there were ever to be a Cartier timepiece that could be said to really evoke that sense of 'King' (King of Jewellers), then this Tortue Monopoussoir would be a decidedly strong candidate. So rich and resplendent in heritage both from a Cartier perspective and from that of modern watchmaking, so utterly beautiful in its aesthetic composition and form - this timepiece, beyond any shadow of a doubt, is one of the most impressive crown jewels of haute horlogerie. Yet, in spite of the vast historical weight it carries, it is a timepiece that wears with such effortless and charming ease. Its dimensions, far from being over-bearing, are perfectly contained. The solid yet flowing and seamless structure of the watch, together with the slight curve of the caseback, allow for the piece to simply envelop the wrist. This Tortue is the embodiment of elegant masculinity, with an irresistible golden flair of the extraordinary.
The set & condition
Renowned for the continuous endeavour to artistically and articulately curate Cartier's finest and rarest timepieces, it is with particular pride - and rapturous delight - that Mr Watchley presents this absolutely first-class piece of horological Cartier heritage.
This timepiece, which could easily be described as the summum of Cartier collecting, has just been serviced by Cartier and is therefore in perfect condition. It comes with its full set, which includes its original green (rather than traditional red) box, white gold folding buckle, an unworn Cartier crocodile strap and Cartier's certificate of authenticity.
With the infrequency with which any one of these stunning 13 timepieces appear on the market, this really is a unique, once-in-a-blue diamond-moon opportunity. An opportunity to come into the possession of a Cartier timepiece that in every possible way, reigns supreme.
* Every watch is delivered in a Mr WATCHLEY Membrane Protection Box for a safe transportation in addition to its original set *
If you desire to take a closer look at this precious timepiece, don't hesitate to contact us and make an appointment. We are based in Ghent, Belgium
No stock kept on site
|13 Rue de la Paix
43mm x 34mm
|Mr Watchley Grained midnight blue
|Cartier white gold folding buckle
|Excellent - Like new
|Yes + 2023 Cartier service papers