While Cartier is certainly plenty capable as a watchmaker, the brand has always turned heads more with its timeless style than with its innovation. But that changed in a big way at this year’s Watches and Wonders event in Geneva, as the French luxury brand unveiled one of the strangest and most exciting mechanical watch movements you’re likely to ever see in its Masse Mystérieuse.
While a traditional “mystery dial” watch features hands printed on transparent discs, giving the illusion that they’re floating above the dial, the Masse Mystérieuse takes things considerably further. The watch features a fully transparent sapphire dial and caseback, exposing the movement within. But instead of a traditional movement, here the entire caliber has been contained within the watch’s rotor. This means that, at any given time, half of the watch is entirely see-through. It looks like straight-up magic, amplified by the fact that the connection between the watch’s crown and the hands is not visible, with some sort of sorcery going on with a hidden gear train beneath the piece’s minute track.
Unsurprisingly, the Masse Mystérieuse will be extremely limited and very, very expensive, but Cartier has debuted a number of more practical watches to go along with it. Most exciting to us are the latest additions to its historic Tank line, designed by Louis Cartier himself over 100 years ago. A trio of Tanks are getting all-black lacquered dials, upping the cool quotient of the iconic design even more. The minimalist, quartz-powered Tank Must in stainless steel is getting the treatment in both large and small sizes, as is the large-sized, manual-winding, yellow gold-cased Tank Louis Cartier if you’re in the market for something a bit more premium.
Like many of Cartier’s historical mystery watches, the aesthetics and mechanics go hand and hand with the design of its Masse Mystérieuse, which proves that even in today’s technological age, there’s nothing comparable to a good ol’ magic trick. The Masse Mystérieuse is limited to just 30 pieces and should retail around €250,000 (~$276,089), whereas the price and release dates for the black Tank watches are not yet specified, but should be in line with the current prices of ~$2,700 for the Must and ~$13,500 for the Louis.