With the hand-wound Pasha de Cartier Skeleton Flying Tourbillon (ref. W3030021) that is offered in a precious 18-karat white gold case, Cartier keeps exploring the exciting world of skeletonized timepieces.
It was during the SIHH 2009 that the French jeweler has introduced its first timepiece without a normal dial. Instead, the movement bridges were extensively skeletonized to form stylized Roman numerals and hour markers. Although bulky and not very legible, they nevertheless offered its owners an interesting display that certainly drew a lot of envious glances.
A year later, at SIHH 2010, the company has introduced its wonderful Rotonde de Cartier Flying Tourbillon Skeleton. This January Cartier has introduced two more watches that were created using the same technique.
The first of them is the stately Cartier Santos Dumont Carbon Skeleton Titanium (Ref. W2020052) that we have briefly reviewed earlier, and the second is the new Pasha de Cartier Skeleton Flying Tourbillon.
The watch is powered by the new Caliber 9457 MC hand-wound movement that looks like a close relative of the engine employed in the last year’s Rotonde de Cartier mentioned above. The movement’s bridges are skeletonized in such a way as to represent three huge Arabic numerals that were further engraved and blackened out for better contrast. The square chapter “ring” is also an integral part of the movement, as is the carriage of the flying tourbillon escapement that, traditionally, features a stylized letter “C.”
Although skeletonized dials tend to look like a complete mess, this one looks like a study in legibility. Or, at least, like a study in the legibility of open-worked, see-through dials with a tiny mechanism placed in their center. Mainly, thanks to the pair of diamond-shaped hour and minute hands done in blued steel, but also in the way the thick “beams” of the contraption are decorated with heavy machine-brushing and with the minute track not simply painted, but actually engraved and blacked-out in order to achieve the most contrasting appearance.
Frankly, I don’t care much how my skin is visible through all those openings in the dial (it seems to be machined out of a solid pluck of white gold) and the way the W3030021’s back looks almost like an afterthought, but that’s my personal opinion, so you can either deal with it or (preferably) disregard it as an inevitable rant.
Although I usually do not like watches with cabochons in their crowns, the sapphire in this particular timekeeper does its job with proud, visually supporting the deep-blue hands.
The Pasha de Cartier Skeleton Flying Tourbillon is going to be sold as a special edition model limited to just a hundred numbered copies. Price is not unveiled yet, but I expect the watch to be very expensive*.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4/5
Nighttime Legibility: 1/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
* UPDATE ON PRICE: In the United States, the Skeleton Flying Tourbillon will retail for $150,000. Impressive, but also predictable since the French jeweler’s “high horology” watches have never been known for their -ahem- affordability.
Pasha de Cartier Skeleton Flying Tourbillon (ref. W3030021) specification
Price: $150,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Caliber Cartier 9457 MC, 175 parts, in-house, Swiss Made
Cadence of balance: 21,600 vph
Movement decoration: Bridges in the shape of Arabic numerals; beveled bridges, satin-brushed sides, and circular-grained wheels
Functions: Hours, minutes, flying tourbillon
Power reserve: 50 hours
Case: 18-karat White gold
Size: 42.00 mm
Case height: 10.10 mm
Hands: Diamond-shaped, blued steel
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black alligator-skin strap fitted with a double adjustable folding clasp in white gold
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective