For the second watch in the trio, also a Rotonde, Cartier hollow out fake watches have dispensing with the tourbillon and the minute repeater, but retained skeleton work and a mystery movement. This combination appears for the first time in a Cartier, and either of these defining features of this watch make it noteworthy, especially as Cartier’s Rotonde aesthetic enhances both. In part, it’s thanks to the generous 42mm palladium case, but that’s not what makes the piece such a standout.
Inside is the manually-wound manufacture Calibre 9983 MC, which peers through the skeletal elements that cleverly form the hour markers. This is a Cartier trademark that helped to elevate last year’s re-imagined Cartier Crash to the top of many “wants lists”, wherein the numbers are elongated, curved and part of the physical structure.
As with the earlier Cartier mystery replica watches UK in this series, the dial is asymmetrical, with the hours-and-minutes display in a subdial at 9 o’clock, surrounded by the stylised numerals. The hands appear to float in this subdial, begging the wearer to remove it and hold it up to the light, or place it against a coloured backdrop.
By now, every watch enthusiast has solved the mystery, which for Cartier goes back to their first mystery clocks of over a century ago. The mechanism consists of two sapphire discs to which the hands are fitted, the discs having teeth around their circumference. When activated by the movement, one disc turns for the minute hand and the other for the hour hand. Simple, but hugely effective.
Thanks to the size of the watch and the scale of the skeletonising, the watch’s train is visible through the numbers. Cartier, though is crafty: despite the naked state of the movement, the technology behind the mystery element remains a secret.