Cartier Cristallor "Jumbo" - Yellow gold



By the early 20th century, Paris, London, and New York were established as the three distinct houses of Cartier. Headed up by the founder's (Louis-François Cartier) three grandsons, this international spread of business contributed massively to the worldwide success of the Parisian jeweller and watchmaker.

Jacques Cartier went to London, Pierre to New York, and Louis Cartier remained at the Paris boutique. Over the decades of their blossoming, each location became known for its varying styles and slightly nuanced implementations of its creations, and in our world of watches, nuance is everything. While watches rarely came out of New York, London and Paris became some of the most desirable, with the London location taking the spot for being the most creative (Think the Crash). This left Paris to fulfil the most timeless and classic of styles. Nevertheless, rules are meant to be broken, and in the 1970s, the Parisian arm of the empire created a striking and somewhat undiscovered take on the brand's design vocabulary, the Cristallor.

Rumoured to have been produced in the early to mid-1970s (some speculate 1973), the Cristallor is a bold wristwatch from Cartier, and it's not a Tank. With a triple-stepped bezel, octagonal case form, hidden lugs, and large proportions, the Cartier Cristallor is undeniably a product of the 1970s. It's also of notable rarity, with serial numbers being within a range of three digits of each other. As such, estimates state fewer than 1000 units were produced until the model left the collection in 1986. Examples can be found in white gold and yellow gold and different sizes over the two reference numbers: 78096 for the smaller size and 78095 for the larger. 

The Watch

You'd be forgiven for thinking that this is just another Cartier Tank. After all, it's a vertical precious metal watch from Cartier with all its recognisable features. If it walks like a Tank and talks like a Tank, it's a Tank, right?

Well, in this case, not entirely. Although it may appear to be a stepped take on the rectangular dress watch, the Cristallor is an altogether separate model, with this example of the larger reference dating from the 1970s. As a reference 78096, this 'jumbo' take on the Cristallor is rendered in 18k yellow gold and measures 28mm by 35mm. While watches produced under the Paris roof are typically a touch more classic than those from Cartier London, this Cristallor very much breaks that mould. Its octagonal case is pure elegance, and its most striking feature – the triple-stepped bezel – is also its most unusual. This design stretches to every corner, and with hidden vendome-type lugs, the sheer presence of its multi-layering is profound and audaciously glamorous. Carrying no signs of polishing, this shapely expression of Cartier's singularity is bold, but its dial is tastefully uncomplicated.

Four. Just four elements form the dial of this Cristallor, and they're the most symbolic of the Maison's design cues. A white dial is the canvas, black Roman numerals and a railroad track are the designations, and the heat-blued Epee hands read the passing hours and minutes. An honourable and meaningful mention goes to the Paris signature below the six numeral, signifying the birthplace of this rare Cartier.

Architectural form and striking lines speak to the renewed interest in Art Deco design that the Cristallor was born into. It's also harmoniously correlated with opulence and early widespread luxury advancements. From the decade that popularised the Love bracelet, gave us the Bamboo Coussin, the updated Santos, and many rare references such as the Losange or the wooden Pallisandre De Rio, this 78096 Cristallor is a seldom-seen slice of vintage Cartier and a hot commodity that continues to heat up daily.

The Movement

Powering this Cristallor is the manually wound 78-1 calibre. Found in many Cartier references of the time, this movement is based upon the ETA Cal. 2512-1, has 44 hours of autonomy, and is complete with 17 jewels.

How It Wears

At 28mm wide by 35mm tall, the Cristallor wears exceptionally well on modern wrists. For context, the 'Large' modern Tank Must is 25.5mm by 33.7mm. This makes the Cristallor a piece with remarkable presence. Furthermore, due to its gradually triple-stepped bezel and sans lugs visual design, the watch's visible elements further lean into its larger footprint. But more than that, the Cristallor represents an uncommon slice of timekeeping Cartier. One that's special and uniquely distant from the Tank.


This 1970s Cartier Cristallor 78096 is presented in unpolished condition with some minor hairline scratches. It is presented as a watch only, and is complete with a custom Mr Watchley leather strap.

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 is kept on site.

* Every watch is delivered in a Mr WATCHLEY Membrane Protection Box for a safe transportation in addition to its original set *

Reference 78096
Movement Manual
Caliber Cartier  78-1
Dial White "Paris" lacquered dial 
Size (Case) 28 mm x 35 mm 
Material (Case) Yellow gold
Bracelet Custom Mr Watchley strap
Buckle Cartier yellow gold pin buckle
Condition Very good, unpolished
Year 1970's
Papers  -
Box  - 
Warranty 2 years


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