Vintage art

History of Cartier's women's watches on display in Bangkok

Diamond-set cocktail watch 1919.

The history of Cartier's women's watches have been traced in an exhibition held at Lotus Arts de Vivre Boutique, Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel.

The "Women Are Forever–A Vintage Cartier Collection" exhibition is a partnership between the family-run Lotus Arts de Vivre and Obsidian Objets d'Art, a London-based private gallery founded by the Hon Harry Fane.

Over 34 rare timepieces have been curated by Fane for the exhibition, which runs until Dec 10.

"Pursuing and curating vintage Cartier watches, especially from the early 20th century, was a very difficult and diligent task. Because every single piece has its own beauty, meticulously handcrafted and produced in small quantities,'' said Fane.

From 1919, a very rare oval watch features an offset dial surrounded by rose-cut diamonds, and a woven, grey, natural pearl bracelet. In those days, it was considered impolite for women to glance at their wristwatches, and the position of the offset dial enabled them to read the time from the quickest glimpse.

Also set with rose-cut diamonds, an elegant 1920 model is housed in a square case with rounded corners. The very thin movement allows for a slim case that sits comfortably on the wrist. Likewise, a minute movement powers a 1929 cocktail watch adorned with carré (square) cut diamonds.

Diamond and natural pearl lady's wristwatch 1919.

Cartier's play on shapes includes Tank created in the 1910s by Louis Cartier, who was inspired by a top view of a combat vehicle. In 1967, the design of the iconic Crash originated when Jean Jacques Cartier saw a crash between a London double-decker bus and a black taxi. He asked his workshop what a Cartier Tank would look like had it been in a car crash.

The exhibited Cartier Diamond Crash is a made-in-France model from 1991.

"For me, a vintage Cartier watch is definitely an art piece. Anyone can own and pass them through generations. Still, its value will always surprise you even in the future," said Fane.

Diamond-set wristwatch 1920.

Diamond-set cocktail watch 1919. Photos: Lotus Art de Vivre

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