At the upcoming SIHH 2011 industry event, the French jeweler is going to present a whole bunch of interesting timepieces. Sporting an impressively proportioned case, which is crafted from lightweight titanium alloy and decorated with a nut-style winding crown, the hand-wound Calibre de Cartier Astrotourbillon Calibre 9451 MC limited edition (ref. W7100028) is one of them.
Well, to be more precise this one is not a completely new watch. Rather, it is the same Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon that was presented at the beginning of the year at the SIHH 2010 show.
However this time its Calibre 9451 MC manual-winding movement is installed into a 47 mm Calibre de Cartier case made of titanium. The 9451 MC movement was made solely in-house and represents five years of research and development work for the company that makes decisive steps towards becoming a true Manufacture.
It sports a rather unusual tourbillon complication with its carriage positioned above the movement and between two plains of the three-dimensional dial, while most traditional tourbillon movements usually keep the component firmly integrated into their structure.
Allowing the carriage to “hover” above the dial is a risky business since it becomes more susceptible to vibrations and shocks and requires a sophisticated shock-resistance system to ensure adequate accuracy.
However, this design allows the tourbillon carriage to smoothly rotate around the entire dial in precisely 60 seconds acting as a central second hand with its arrow-shaped off-centered balance bridge indicating the seconds. Sounds rather banal but the complication produces a mesmerizing effect when seen in person. The whole assembly is massive, so, to reduce vibrations, the titanium tourbillon carriage is balanced with a platinum counterweight, which is hidden under the dial.
Speaking of the dial, it is practically the same as the one in the aforementioned Rotonde de Cartier model but features an oversized “XII” Roman numeral that visually dominates the dial. Too bad they didn’t go further and refrained from using a raised numeral like it is done in some Rotonde de Cartier models. Well, probably an element of the dial raised above the plain would have interfered with the flowing motion of the carriage.
The 47 mm titanium case looks *ahem* substantial, but, thanks to the use of featherweight metal and two pairs of curving horns that embrace the wrist, the Calibre de Cartier Astrotourbillon Calibre 9451 MC must be comfortable to wear, especially if you were a captain of a college football team.
As usual with their “high horology” wristwatches, this ref. W7100028 is expensive: even if you will manage to find one after serious collectors lay their hands on the initial batch, you may be stunned by a price stick of approximately €130,000 (will depend on markets and local taxes.)
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 1/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Calibre de Cartier Astrotourbillon Calibre 9451 MC (ref. W7100028) specification
Price: €130,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Cartier Caliber 9451 MC, 40.10 mm in diameter, 9.01 mm in height, 192 parts, in-house, Swiss Made
Cadence of balance: 21,600 vph
Functions: Hour, minutes, tourbillon
Power reserve: 48 hours
Size: 47.00 mm
Numerals: Roman, black
Hands: Blue, sword-shaped
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black alligator leather strap, 18-carat white gold double folding adjustable clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective