This is definitely the year of comebacks in the watch industry with many luxury manufactures updating past favorites or creating homages to iconic pieces. In the case of the reimagined Panthère De Cartier, the company’s Director of Image, Style, and Heritage Pierre Raniero explains that it was a genuine “deep feeling that this was the watch for the moment” and not because of the turmoil of past years.
This collection, first launched in 1983 complemented the otherwise richly bejeweled feline theme at Cartier’s suite at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève (SIHH) earlier this year. To be revealed to local audiences at their Sandton boutique in June, the Panthère has been updated in various metals and diamond pavé options. I spoke to Raniero about his many caps and the decision to bring back the Panthère with its sensuous bracelet.
Although Raniero has a very broad title, his key responsibility is to oversee all aspects of ‘style’ at Cartier. What this means is that he has to see and sign off every single new product no matter what category of objet, from high jewellery to novelties and watches. He also has to keep watch over the image of the company, which means the communication, the architecture of the store design and even the letter paper “because they all convey the values and vision behind the Cartier style.”
Of course when we talk about ‘style’ at Cartier it is intrinsically linked to heritage. “It is important to understand how the style was born and what it is about. What was the vision of the founder,” says Raniero.
He holds the only key to the precious archives and it’s here where Raniero and his team find constant inspiration, transforming ideas into design for new pieces and were the original story and production notes for the timeless classic Panthère are stored.
“We wanted a new feminine watch. An object that could be more than a watch but also jewellery. We looked at the Panthère and felt that this was the the kind of watch we had in mind. We considered a new watch or restyling it but realised that it was totally perfect as it is. It’s just a deep feeling we had that this was ‘the’ watch for the moment.”
Cartier’s founder, his sons and the influential creative director Jeanne ‘La panthère’ Toussaint have all been particularly good at capturing the spirit of ‘the moment’ and the Panthere channels the mystical cat that has been part of the maison’s rich history for over a 100 years. Stylistically it references a Santos but its name was inspired by the sensuality and elegance of its integrated bracelet and “the way it was articulated, like a walking panther”.
Although there has been some turmoil in the industry, it was business as usual when it came to deciding two years ago what the right watch would be to launch in 2017. “I’m happy that people feel we have acted appropriately for our time but the decision was made before. How we adapted for this period is what we should do anyway all the time. Concentrate on what we do well: propose distinctive strong design in a very authentic way. Something unique.”
Originally only available in yellow gold, this year updates include pink gold and two spectacular editions: one in black lacquer and pink gold, the other white gold, diamonds and panther spots.
Driven by a quartz movement, the idea is that this is a jewellery first, timepiece second watch so there is not much to reveal on the inside. Although great for a new generation of young clients, an option with a mechanical movement like a Calibre 101 from Jaeger LeCoultre might have required a thicker case and added a larger price tag but would have created more interest from women looking for more complex pieces. A growing trend in the industry.