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Well Timed

You may have noticed that fine watches are making quite the splash this year.

A Cartier artisan sets the 225 cognac diamonds to the Ballon Bleu de Cartier watch

By By Tali Jaffe

You may have noticed that fine watches are making quite the splash this year. Reports from last month’s Baselworld, the industry’s most important annual gathering, point to a rebound in watch sales across the board, but especially in the luxury timepiece sector.

Hublot sold hundreds of six-figure timepieces, in addition to a one-of-a-kind $3 million watch, while watch retailer Tourneau increased its purchasing budget following its own double-digit sales increases in stores last year.

While the American market dropped off in watch sales over the last several years, there’s been a marked increase again of late, and several fine jewelry stores and fashion houses are expanding their timepiece offerings, as well as opening new boutiques to meet the demand.

Cartier, who has a tradition of fine watch-making, just released a new collection this Spring that speaks to the demand for exotic and unique timepieces. The Cartier d’art Watch Collection features five new limited-edition watches showcasing the artistic craft pioneered at Cartier through four different techniques—enameling, engraving, piqué-a-jour and mosaic tiles.

The intensive process that goes into making these collectible pieces is revealed in a video of Cartier’s artisans at work in the studio in France. The tools used to create these pieces range from microscopes to wood saws to ovens for baking the enameled elements on some of the models, like the Rotonde de Cartier with the bear motif, seen here. The plique-à-jour paillonné enameling technique produces a translucent effect, to which silver-foil stars are added to the dial face. For those fond of monkeys rather than bears, the Ballon Bleu de Cartier gets playful with a monkey motif set in 225 cognac diamonds.

However, the mosaic tiling technique is perhaps the most impressive of them all. A sea turtle rendered in an array of rounded, split and cut stones is pieced together stone by stone totaling more than 1,100 individual pieces, all outlined in black onyx.

Check out the behind-the-scenes video of the making of the Cartier d’art Watch Collection:

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