Cartier’s association with the panther has spanned over a century and inspired numerous creations, including an entire timepiece collection: Panthère de Cartier.
A year after relaunching the Panthère de Cartier, Cartier has bolstered the collection with additional references that further cement the watch’s status as both watch and jewellery, while remaining contemporary as ever despite its 1980s roots.
Cartier and the Panther
Wild and animalistic yet sinuous and playful, the panther has inspired mankind for thousands of years. In it, men see a powerful, stealthy predator that stalked its prey from the shadows. Women, on the other hand, are drawn to its regal nature and otherworldly grace – traits that Cartier has translated into jewellery – of this exotic and mysterious creature.
Cartier’s association with the panther dates back over a century. The first creation by the Maison in 1914 was a bracelet watch sporting diamonds flecked with onyx, reminiscent of a panther’s spots.
The watch’s designer has been lost to time, but history suggests him to be Charles Jacqueau (1885-1968), a designer at Cartier who did not just create significant jewellery masterpieces, but also pioneered the Art Deco movement.
Numerous creations from the Maison followed in succession, and the panther motif became quintessentially Cartier.
The diamond-and-onyx rendering made its way to vanity cases, bracelets, and other accessories. While the panther evolved from static, set pieces to include articulated executions.
Jeanne Toussaint, in particular, was responsible for shaping the panther’s development as a motif while heading Cartier’s fine jewellery department as Creative Director in the 1930s.
Nicknamed La Pantheré for her fierce, forceful spirit, her influence was already felt well before she started work there – Cartier’s first ever depiction of a complete panther was on a vanity case that Louis Cartier had created and gifted her.
Toussaint’s work included multiple panther-themed high jewellery pieces created for the Duchess of Winsor and other members of high society. These acclaimed pieces included articulated ones that saw the panther seemingly come to life, as well as three-dimensional depictions of the panther, with a previously unseen depth.
The Panthère de Cartier
Cartier’s explorations of the panther as a subject also extended to a watch collection, the Panthère de Cartier, albeit with a more abstract interpretation.
The watch was first launched in 1983 with many stylistic references to the Santos de Cartier timepiece. Both models have rounded off square cases bearing bezels secured using exposed screws; and share similar square dials featuring Roman numeral indexes and railway track chapter rings.
Why the association with the panther then?
According to Cartier, the Panthère de Cartier was so named because its five-link bracelet was so superbly articulated that it recalled the rippling movement of the panther.
The buy-in to the nomenclature helped to establish the collection as a separate one unto itself, and not a sub-family of the already famous Santos de Cartier. In spite of its popularity, the collection was discontinued completely back in 2004.
In 2017, Cartier finally reintroduced the Panthère de Cartier. The collection’s return mirrored its debut – a no-frills hybrid of both watch and jewellery with a strong design, positioned once again as a classic for broad-based appeal.
To reinforce this, the new Panthère de Cartier remains practically unchanged from the original, almost as a declaration that there is nothing else to improve. What’s more, the Maison pulled no punches by re-releasing a fully-fledged collection immediately, which was then extended earlier this year with additional references.
The current Panthère de Cartier line-up now includes references with two- or three-loop bracelets that promise a strong presence on the wrist.
The current line-up spans models in various materials across three case sizes, all powered by quartz movements.
Pink, yellow, and white gold are all par for the course here given the Panthère de Cartier’s dual-identity as both timepiece and jewellery, but more accessible references in steel and bimetal executions are also available.
Gem-setting, too, is on display within the collection, from just paved bezels to variants with full pave cases, dials, and bracelets.
For more oomph, two variants of the Panthère de Cartier are available.
The first is a series with extended bracelets that loop around their wearers’ wrists two or three times, for a weightier visual (and tactile) presence.
The second marks a return of the panther’s spots.
In lieu of onyx, black lacquer is interspersed with diamonds to recreate the animal’s coat in one high jewellery reference, while a separate limited edition model pairs black onyx with pink gold for a stylised depiction of the same subject.
The latest development for the Panthère de Cartier has been the appointment of Annabelle Wallis as the face of the collection.
The British actress has played a wide range of roles in both film and television, and embodies the spirit of the collection not just with her graceful, gentle manner, but also her strength of character and fierce determination. #boldandfearless.
Wallis has also been appointed as the face for the Panthère de Cartier jewellery collection, and will represent both these collections in a digital campaign and video scenes shot by American director Cass Bird.
All images courtesy of Cartier