Cartier Tonneau Platinum 1924



To say the story of Cartier's venture into wristwatches is well-documented would be an understatement. After a request from Brazilian-born and aviation-obsessed Albert Santos Dumont, the first pilot and men's wristwatch was born - the Santos Dumont. But what came next? Many might assume it was a new iteration of the Santos or perhaps the Tank, but it was the Tonneau, and it arrived only two years later.

Introduced in 1906, the styling of the Tonneau was very attuned to the times, with a barrel-shaped case (tonneau translates to 'barrel' in French), a stretched dial with matching Roman numerals, and hidden lugs. Other versions of the Tonneau were known as the 'Tonneau à Pattes,' which include ornate lugs that possess an almost pocket watch level of lavishness, reflective of the Art Nouveau style of the era. Other firms subsequently created their own take on the barrel-shaped timepiece, further cementing Cartier's innovative standing. Nevertheless, the Tonneau avoided mainstream attention the way the precursing Santos, the subsequent Tortue (1912), and eventual Tank (1917) did – and for many, that's a facet of its charm. The Tonneau is desirable within collector circles and influential in a broader sense, with models such as the Tortue and Cintree unquestionably taking cues from its elongated, stretched, and curved proportions. The brand's genesis of unique lug designs can also be traced back to the Tonneau.

While the model has been modernised throughout the late 20th century and into the 21st century, as with many Cartier wristwatches, the real allure surrounds the earliest pre-1960s examples. Naturally, the early watches weren't produced in high quantities, and examples have been discovered in platinum, white gold, and yellow gold.  

The Watch

Following the Santos Dumont as Cartier's second venture into wristwatches was never going to be an easy feat, but the Tonneau, which arrived two years later, demonstrates the class and grace of the Maison. Numerous design cues debuted with the Tonneau as it shaped many significant collection tenets whose influence remains.

Cased in platinum and dating from 1924, this early example remains in remarkable condition, maintaining matching numbers and original parts, despite now being 100 years old. Slim, curved, and narrow in wrist presence, the Pt-formed rendering for its endlessly elegant barrel-shaped case is defined by its unique set of lugs. Shooting straight out the top of the case are welded lugs with a bar and vis armurier (or "gunsmith"-style) tube screws holding the strap to the watch. The first universal characteristic of a Cartier can also be found externally via its beaded and cabochon-tipped crown. The caseback of the watch is in yellow gold with a brushed finish.

Pieces like this convey the inception of Cartier's celebrated design language, with the bulk of elements being housed within the dial. Made possible due to the expansive size of the case are the Tonneau's black Roman numerals that are radially arranged around the periphery with a simple minutes track (note its sans railroad execution) at the centre. Blued pomme hour and minute hands sit above the silver rosette motif guilloché dial, complete with a simple 'Cartier Paris' signature at twelve.

The Movement

Powering this 1924 Tonneau is a European Watch and Clock Company calibre original to the case. The movement features 19 jewels and has lovely anglage throughout its bridges. Many consider EWC calibres the most desirable movements used by Cartier for their build, accuracy, and finishing. The movement number of 18XXX can be found on the movement and the case, confirming the originality.

Why This Tonneau Matters

​​Pre 21st century, all Cartier Tonneau cases were produced exclusively in France, undeniably adding to the rarity and allure of this incredible surviving example. To further emphasise the scarcity, we must consider that between 1919 and 1965, only 2,200 Cartier watches were ever produced. According to records, just 67 Tanks were produced for the entirety of 1924. While it's unknown how many were Tonneau's, when dealing with this level of minuscule numbers, it's likely single digits, let alone examples rendered in platinum. Nevertheless, what's significant here is how this example survived and remains in working order today. One hundred years later, the watch is still in its original condition and is coupled with its original numbers matching movement with legitimate confirmed provenance. Knowing how many of those original 67 Tanks still exist today that are working, let alone this original, would be pure speculation. Still, one can contemplate that number to be extremely low.

This timepiece is exceptionally rare, with only a few originally crafted and even fewer enduring to the present day. Adding to its significance, it boasts a platinum construction, the pinnacle of metals, making any platinum Cartier watch from the 1920s highly coveted.   

With the Tonneau not being as widespread a model and with connoisseurs of early Cartier often being lifelong collectors, it is exceptionally uncommon for an example as complete as this to come to the open market rather than directly to auction. Considering the immense esteem of Cartier today, coupled with the growing interest in brand scholarship, the availability of this Tonneau on Mr Watchley cannot be overstated. 

Confirmation Of Provenance

Below is a breakdown of the hallmarks and numbers found throughout the Tonneau that have been cross-referenced and provide legitimacy to its age and provenance.

      The serial number 14XXX is on the inner and outer sides of the caseback and the inner side of the case, which, according to Cartier archives for serial numbers and date ranges, indicates the watch was produced in 1924.

       The side of Tonneau's case carries a dog-head hallmark. This known French hallmark is for platinum.

      A second hallmark, an eagle, is present on the outer side of the gold caseback. This is another known hallmark that confirms the caseback is yellow gold.

      The number 18XXX can be found on the exterior of the caseback and on the movement, making this the movement number. These matching numbers confirm the case is original to the movement.

      The watch includes a white metal buckle from the same era as the watch. The buckle carries two hallmarks: '750' to indicate that it is white gold and a Cartier maker's hallmark.

Detailed pictures showing the movement, case, serials, and all hallmarks are made available upon request.

How It Wears

One of the many alluring aspects of the Tonneau is how its barrel case gently curves. This creates an angle and case shape designed to follow the curvature of the wrist, resulting in a timepiece that's striking in presence while also extremely wearable. This rare platinum Tonneau is a special thing on the wrist. Familiarity meets scarcity, and while its proportions are more reserved, the heft of the case material is profound.


The Cartier Tonneau is presented in very good condition and still maintains its original dial, hands, movement, and crown. In 2021, the watch visited Cartier for a service of the movement where zero components were changed. Cartier fitted the watch with a new crystal and cleaned the dial. However, it's important to note that it was a light clean, and the dial did not undergo any painting. All of the Cartier paperwork from this visit is included with the sale. The watch is fitted with a custom Mr Watchley grey Alcantara strap.

If you desire to take a closer look at this precious timepiece, don't hesitate to contact us and make an appointment. 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 Cartier Tonneau Platinum 1924
Movement Manual
Caliber Original European Watch & Clock movement
Dial Original Cartier Paris Rossette dial
Size (Case) 34 mm (41mm with lugs)  x 24 mm 
Material (Case) Platinum
Bracelet Custom made 
Buckle Original Cartier white gold folding buckle
Hallmarks & numbers Deep & easy to read
Year 1924
Papers  - 
Box  - 
Warranty 2 years


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