In conversation with Cartier’s Image, Strategy and Heritage Director, Pierre Rainero.
The formidable luxury Maison has been keeping good time and design, in sync with current times. What with the many product ranges and styles that Cartier is known for, and presenting to the world year on year, we caught up with Pierre Rainero who has been with the Maison since 1984.
Prior to his 2003 appointment as Cartier’s Image, Strategy and Heritage Director, he had headed up Research and Strategy, Communications, to include Artistic Direction of Cartier products, and all image related matters at Cartier International.
Curatedition: How does Cartier keep up – with the process of renewing and creating novelties – in the current market place with the shortening product cycle. To continue to engage with the existing Cartier clients, and to attract the new clients?
Rainero: Creation of beauty is key to us.
Two examples. First, the new Panthère de Cartier from last year.
The brief was simple: We wanted a new watch for women. We opened all doors, explored all possibilities. Did we want to create a watch from scratch, create a new shape or consider existing shapes? Cartier has many shapes, and is known for it. We decided to rework the shape. And then we asked ourselves again:
Is it relevant today? Is it good for the universe as we see it in terms of design? … and on the topic of beauty, is it suitable for contemporary way of life.
Curatedition: In context of lifestyle.
Rainero: Yes. Is there anyone ready to buy it and live with it… because the design of an object is not only about how beautiful it is, but also if you can imagine yourself wearing it, showing it, and being proud of it.
Curatedition: The new Panthère de Cartier was successfully re-introduced last year, is it too soon to have another design conversation about it for SIHH 2018?
Rainero: Last year, the Panthère was in the air, in our minds. When working towards SIHH 2018, we thought, maybe we should work with it. The more we worked with it, we feel… It is good as it is. The design is perfect for today. It is a long cycle. We made it better: we improved the movement, it is water proof now (swim with it!)…and the loop bracelet for that jewellery element.
Images courtesy of Cartier, by Eric Sauvage
Curatedition: And the Santos…?
Rainero: Is the second example.
The same questions were asked. Do we create a totally new design or rework it? Everything is open, with many possibilities. But. One recognises the Santos immediately.
So we “went back” to Louis Cartier’s values and philosophy. To the way Louis Cartier screened the ideas that came from the design studio. That was the way he worked, and the way we work today.
It was to value strong design, and strong ideas.
Curatedition: What does strong mean?
Rainero: To Louis Cartier, strong design is not only because it was distinctive and original but also because it was good enough to give birth to many variations.
The idea of design that is permanent but open to variation.
A design that is able to evolve and yet remain itself is key to understand what is strong in the Cartier vision of design.
In fact, he had an expression for that. He wrote many letters to the Paris design office when he was in Hungary. In one letter, this was in the mid 30s, he wrote: “This is a mother idea”. One that will give birth to many design variations.
The Santos and Panthère designs both represent strong “mother ideas”.
The Santos de Cartier watch was first introduced in 1904, out of a great friendship between Louis Cartier and the aviation legend Alberto Santos-Dumont. Until this day, the Santos watches have evolved but kept its classic, distinctive and yet innovative style.
At SIHH 2018, the new Santos de Cartier was presented with the Maison’s latest innovations.
The iconic aesthetic square face with the eight screws on the bezel of the Santos de Cartier timepiece remains unchanged in the new offering. Instead, the new watch features an innovative strap change mechanism – the Cartier Quick Switch system- that allows one to select and change easily from a strap choice of materials and colours to suit the occasion.
It also features another innovation – the SmartLink self-fitting technology – that allows the wearer to adjust the length of the metal bracelet to the nearest link without the use of a tool. At the touch of a button located on each SmartLink, the attachment bar is unlatched and one of the brushed metal links with screws can be added or removed from the Santos de Cartier watch. Watch how both features work here.
The calibre 1847 MC of the watch is also worthy of mention, as it features anti-magnetic nickel phosphorus components in the escapement and movement mechanisms, as well as a shield made from a paramagnetic alloy. These render the calibre effectively resistant to the powerful magnetic fields a watch may be exposed to in everyday life, ensuring sustained functional accuracy and performance.
Images courtesy of Cartier, by Eric Sauvage
This heritage watch, with its innovative enhancements, has proven itself again to be classic yet versatile. Truly a design of distinction.
Innovation takes on different forms. One final question we had to ask, given the buzz in the world now:
Curatedition: Cartier has been one of the more progressive brands in the high watchmaking and jewellery industry, what is your take on the smart movement.
Rainero: Back to the idea of philosophy and values. The perenniality of the object is key. We cannot imagine creating a Cartier object that we throw away. The challenge of technology today: there is constant renewal, there is constant progress. Technology is not stable. It is not respectful towards our clients to sell them something that they will put in the drawer one year from now.
Everyone has different motivations to put on a watch. We used to say the mechanical approach of measurement of time is like an appropriation of the world. Understanding the mechanical movement is akin to the mastery of your own time, and control it as you will.