Make Your Next Destination London For The ‘Cartier In Motion’ Exhibition
Cartier’s jewelry and watch expositions are always a treat, making for a good reason to go abroad for a weekend break.
It is now eight years since I booked a plane to China to visit “Cartier Treasures,” which was held in the beautiful Palace Museum in Beijing (2009) and seven years since I attended the “Power of Style” exposition in Prague (2010). “Time Art” Zurich (2011) opened its doors six years ago.
And just when I thought that Cartier’s marvelous watch expositions had perhaps become something of the past, a new Cartier watch exhibition in London opened this week.
To sum up Cartier’s last few years, in the period between “Cartier Treasures” and “Time Art,” the brand’s focus on watchmaking changed quite a bit.
While we saw stunning vintage pieces in Beijing, the exposition in Zurich was a mix of vintage and contemporary watches, the latter containing high-tech elements and complications such as flying tourbillons and perpetual calendars, all produced in house.
It is clear that the Maison has been focusing more on technology than design over the last years.
In their dedicated workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Cartier’s watchmakers showed time and time again that Cartier can still produce magnificent and mysterious movements and minute repeaters as they had in the past.
So now let’s see what “Cartier in Motion” is all about.
The opening ceremony took place on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, hosted by Cyrille Vigneron, Cartier’s new CEO and started with a cocktail party in the lobby of the Design Museum, where the exhibition takes place.
“Cartier in Motion” unravels the unique story of the brand’s approach to watchmaking and how the invention of the modern wristwatch came about. It was curated by British architect Lord Norman Foster, well known for his design of the Millennium Bridge and London City Hall. It was co-curated by Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum.
You shouldn’t get the idea that “Cartier in Motion” is just another exposition of vintage goodies in glass vitrines; it is more a journey through time. No visitor will miss the message the exposition puts across regarding Cartier’s history in watchmaking and the invention of the modern wristwatch.
This is very well illustrated with a number of timepieces from Cartier’s own private collection and many exhibits from the archives, such as, for instance, a letter from Alberto Santos-Dumont to Louis Cartier – the duo responsible for the early wristwatch Santos-Dumont wore in a hot-air balloon he piloted over Paris.
The exposition guides the visitor through six themes:
- The evolution of Paris and its influence on Cartier’s shapes
- Louis Cartier’s connections with Alberto Santos-Dumont and other pioneers of the age
- The birth of the modern wristwatch
- The sophisticated accessories designed to cater to a glamorous lifestyle between the world wars
- The evolution of Cartier watch designs
- Cartier craftsmanship, with a focus on mystery clocks and skeleton movements
On display are various early Santos models, quite a collection of Tank watches – among them the Tank Normale, a model that Elizabeth Taylor wore for many years – the original Tortue Monopoussoir, and a collection of tonneau-shaped models, including the one Fred Astaire owned. Both the vintage Crash and the latest skeleton version of the Crash are on display.
In another section you’ll find mystery and prisma clocks from the 1930s as well as modern versions with newly developed calibers produced by Cartier today.
“Cartier in Motion” remains on display at the Design Museum until July 28, 2017.
I recommend it as a must-see show, not just for Cartier fans, but for all watch enthusiasts since the exhibit very informatively and entertainingly displays the strength of the brand since its early years, highlighting that so many of Cartier’s creations have been a source of inspiration for the watch industry as a whole.
The “Cartier in Motion” exhibition also offers an excellent catalogue boasting more than 350 pages. You can order it from the museum or from your local bookstore (ISBN 978-84-945096-4-3).
For more information, please visit designmuseum.org/exhibitions/cartier-in-motion.
Quick Facts “Cartier in Motion”
Where: Design Museum, London
When: May 25 through July 28, 2017
Times: open daily 10:00 through 18:00 (last entry 17:00)
Cost: admission is free
Also published on Medium.