Iconic FormsEmblems of Cartier’s Heritage
Precise forms and precious metals converge. Gold lines contrast with the flow of a leather strap, the fold of soft cotton velvet brushed against cold steel. A smooth ovoid echoes the curling tip of a waxy leaf. A watch wraps around the cool touch of a pebble, round as the moon.
These forms, lines and materials comprise some of the most iconic pieces from Cartier’s oeuvre. This collection features four watches and three jewellery designs from its 174-year history, from the minds of Louis Cartier at the turn of the 20th century, and New York jewellery designer Aldo Cipullo – the only designer to date to be allowed to sign their name alongside the Cartier logo.
Taking the form of a curving nail is Cipullo’s Juste un Clou bracelet design from the 1970s, which translates as ‘just a nail’. Here, the prosaic, utilitarian form is elevated to an elegant earring in gold. The burnished, papery texture of a dried gingko leaf reflects the warm hue of the metal, its surface polished to a fine sheen.
The Love bracelet, one of Cipullo’s most iconic designs, balances on the tip of a sharp point, its luminous surface glinting in a triangular shadow. Its two gold oval bands are fastened with a series of visible screws, tightened with a small gold screwdriver. Cipullo conceived the design in 1969 in response to a personal romantic breakup, devising a piece that could not easily be removed, as a permanent expression of love.
A structural feature made visible also appears in Louis Cartier’s Santos de Cartier watch design from 1904, where small rivets around the square steel casing and strap panels become a unifying aesthetic detail. Another of his designs is the Tank watch, created in 1917. The unerring gold lines of the case were inspired by a bird’s eye view of a Renault tank, which were deployed during the First World War. The vertical brancards that hold the strap become the tread of the tank – the face, the tank’s turret.
The watches, though they mark the passing of time, do not date: their square forms, tall Roman numerals, blue hands and sapphire winding mechanisms are features consistent throughout Cartier’s watchmaking history. Their exact proportions, pure lines, and radiant materials are equally matched in the flowing forms of the Love, Juste un Clou, and Trinity bracelets and rings. Together, these historic pieces are emblems of Cartier’s timeless approach to design.
- Words: Ollie Horne
- Photos: Rich Stapleton
- Styling: Hana Snow
- Fabrics: Rose Uniake