Ronde Louis Cartier Straw and Gold Marquetry.
Ronde Louis Cartier Straw and Gold Marquetry.
Image: Supplied

Bob Dylan’s 1964 anthem The Times They Are a-Changin’ not only resonates with current sentiments on the status quo but also highlights the role of arts and culture as a powerful mirror and voice for social and political change. Before the world became hyperconnected, artists such as Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela united people through song in a rallying cry for justice and freedom. Fast evolving into spaces more for social cohesion than self-centredness, we’ve finally found better uses of our digital tools as new media for change. Our September issue usually coincides with Joburg’s annual art week, but the fairs have gone online to keep us engaged. At the very least they’ll provide some much-needed escapism, as will Cartier’s new novelties presented under the theme “Unexpected Encounters”, which seems somewhat prescient given the challenges of 2020.

In recent years, the luxury brand has been associated with FNB Art Joburg, however its association with contemporary art began in 1984 with the establishment of Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain. Since moving to Paris in 1994, the home of the foundation is the light-filled glass-and-steel building, designed by the architect Jean Nouvel, where you can discover work by artists from all creative fields and genres of contemporary art. The Nomadic Nights programme is “a rendezvous” focused on the performing arts, “where artists explore links between the visual arts and other forms of contemporary artistic expression”, and is one of the foundation’s many successful springboards for young artists. On the current programme, The Yanomami Struggle showcases the work of artist/activist Claudia Andujar, who has devoted over five decades to photographing and protecting the Yanomami, one of Brazil’s largest indigenous groups.

Cartier is one of the most distinguished jewellers in the world, with every haute-joaillerie piece a meticulous work of art that captures the spirit of each era. Cartier’s founder, his sons, and their influential creative director Jeanne “La Panthère” Toussaint have all been particularly good at capturing the spirit of “the moment”, which regularly finds expression through the iconic panther that has been part of the maison’s rich history for over 100 years. Cartier is also lauded for its distinctive playfulness with shape and style, as can be seen in the covetable updates to its iconic Santos this year and the quirky new Tank Asymétrique or Maillon de Cartier.

For this arts issue, we turn our gaze to its Maison des Métiers d’Art in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, where fine watchmaking finds expression through the innovative use of materials on decorative dials. The 42mm Ronde Louis Cartier Straw and Gold Marquetry timepiece celebrates the remarkable skill of the artisans who, in working with volumes, have created a meticulous bas-relief rendering of nanoscopic detail. The head of the panther is comprised of more than 65 elements in white, yellow, and pink gold, as well as 75 blades of natural straw of different shades that are embedded with yellow-gold wires. Spots on the coat and the eyes are created through traditional enameling.

Ronde Louis Cartier Straw and Gold Marquetry detail.
Ronde Louis Cartier Straw and Gold Marquetry detail.
Image: Supplied
Spots on the eyes are created through traditional enameling.
Spots on the eyes are created through traditional enameling.
Image: Supplied

The artisans push the limits of enameling with the 36mm Enamel Filigree edition. The glass enamel powder is heated and stretched, and the strands are then set and fixed to the dial with tiny threads of yellow gold to create the bamboo effect. The prowling panther, bezel, crown, and buckle are set with brilliant-cut diamonds (2.07ct). Although telling the time may not appear to be the main focus here, beyond the brilliance of the dials is the exquisite ultra-thin, hand-wound Calibre 430 MC movement, which is also to be found in the Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat. Both are limited to an edition of 30 pieces each.

Price on request, 011-666-2800, cartier.com and fondationcartier.com/en.

 From the September issue of Wanted 2020.

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