At the upcoming SIHH 2011 industry event French jeweler Cartier 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 new Calibre de Cartier Astrotourbillon Calibre 9451 MC limited edition (ref. W7100028) hand-wound watch 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 timekeeper that was presented in the beginning of the year at 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 of the watch.
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 quite massive, so, in order 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 very substantial, but, thanks to the use of featherweight metal and two pairs of curving horns that embrace the wrist, the new Calibre de Cartier Astrotourbillon Calibre 9451 MC watch must be quite 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 quite 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
See also: Zenith El Primero Tourbillon Chronograph
Calibre de Cartier Astrotourbillon Calibre 9451 MC (ref. W7100028) manual-wind watch 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
Winding: Manual (hand-wound)
Cadence of balance: 21,600 vph
Functions: Hour, minutes, tourbillon
Power reserve: 48 hours
Case material: Titanium
Bezel material: Titanium
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 47.00 mm
Case height: No data
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
Case back: Sapphire