Last year at SIHH, Cartier made waves with the debut of the men’s Drive de Cartier collection (hands-on here) that featured an all-new cushion-shaped case that has really seemed to resonate with longtime fans. This year, Cartier has added two new models with the Cartier Drive de Cartier Moon Phases watch and the Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat. Initial impressions here are that the Drive de Cartier Moon Phases presents a sufficiently pleasant, yet somewhat obvious option in steel or gold that adds variety to the collection and differentiates itself enough that it will be just right for some, and for others may simply elicit a “why not?” The Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat, however, looks sleek and sexy. In a way, I feel like the Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat realizes what the Drive de Cartier line should be all along. The catch? It’s only available in white or rose gold.
The Drive de Cartier Moon Phases watch maintains the 40mm x 41mm cushion-shaped case and is crafted either from steel (shown here) or 18k pink gold. On the latter, the octagonal crown is likewise made from 18k pink gold and both models are topped with sapphire. Two blued-steel hands glide across the guilloche dial with the classic Roman numerals. At 6 o’clock, you’ve got the moon phases sub-dial, and I can already tell the addition of the text reading “AUTOMATIC” is going to (ahem) “drive” some people nuts. In most likelihood, it’s there because Cartier didn’t want too a sudden break from the minute markers on the inner dial and because a lack of a seconds hand is common to quartz pieces. The white gap would look pretty stark, but it’s the only watch in the line that has the addition of this text, and all the models in the line contain automatic movements. Maybe the aesthetic choice just outweighs anything else.
The Drive de Cartier Moon Phases features the maison‘s new automatic winding 1904-LU MC which operates at 28,800Hz and has a 48-hour power reserve.The Drive de Cartier Moon Phases watch features the complication that accounts for the cycles of the moon and is described as “astronomic” due to the fact that it only needs to be adjusted for one day every 125 years – so save the manual for your grandchildren.
Now, the Cartier Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat watch measures in at a mere 6.6mm, which is more than 40% thinner than last year’s 2016 models. This lithe offering exudes elegance and sports a sunray satin-finished dial in place of Cartier’s beloved guilloche. The Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat case is also a bit smaller at 38mm x 39mm, and it has a 30m water-resistance rating. The piece is powered by the manually wound 430 MC and will be available in both white and pink gold. The 430MC caliber is based on the Piaget 430P, which is appropriate given Piaget’s reputation for slimness. The Cartier 430MC operates at 21,600vph and provides an, honestly, disappointing 36-hour power reserve. Again, no seconds here either, but the dial is largely untouched.
Cartier knows they are going to bug some folks with the fact that a steel model of the Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat isn’t available (at least, for now), but it’s promising that entering the second year since its inception, the Drive de Cartier line is being refined. We reviewed a gold “small complication” model that had a busy dial and polarized people. I have a feeling that the Drive de Cartier Moon Phases might get the same reception but the Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat is just a slick, subtle stunner that makes me want an invite to a black-tie affair immediately.
I think if there’s one word that Cartier is striving for in their development of this piece, it’s “timeless.” After all, no matter what you may think of the Tank and Santos watches, there’s no arguing with their timeless appeal. I don’t think Cartier is there yet, but that’s not meant as a harsh criticism, and rather that I feel like the brand is on the right path. If the Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat is a glimpse into where they are going, then I look forward to SIHH 2018 and what they have to offer then.
The Drive de Cartier Moon Phases watch is paired with a semi-matte brown alligator leather strap with pricing at $7,850 for the steel and $21,100 for the 18k pink gold. The Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat white gold variant is limited to a 200 piece run and comes on a semi-matte greyed alligator leather strap while the 18k pink gold model receives the brown. Prices for the Cartier Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat are $16,700 and $15,600, respectively, with availability beginning in April 2017.