Trends & Fashion
A thousand and one hours with Cartier
Cartier’s Mille et une heures collection captures all the magic of the great Mogul art of decoration that hails from the frontiers of Rajasthan and the gates of Jaipur.
Cartier has undertaken a magical journey through time with the creation of thirty high-jewelry bracelet timepieces that celebrate ancient India. Inspired by the tales of A Thousand and One Nights (or Arabian Nights, as it is also called), the legends told in these stories span four centuries of Asian and Eastern folklore. The same kind of magic is translated into a treasury of secret bracelet timepieces that require between 500 and 1,500 hours of hand craftsmanship in Cartier’s Paris workshops.
Some of the timepieces are created with an architecture that resembles sculptured Indian palaces with their geometric shapes and arabesque motifs. Other designs feature leaves, flowers and peacock feathers. The vivid colours are painted with rubies, sapphires and emeralds, giving these timepieces a vibrant oriental appearance.
Shhh, it’s a secret
At first glance, each of Cartier’s Mille et une heures timepieces looks like an haute-joaillerie bracelet, not a watch. But tiny timekeepers are concealed in each bracelet so that the watch’s owner can discreetly check the time by sliding a hidden cover to reveal the watch below. Secret watches became popular among the high society of late 1800s and early 1900s, when it was considered unsightly for a woman to wear a wristwatch with evening dress.
Although standards have dropped today, why not capture some of the elegance of times gone by with a stunning piece of jewelry that also contains the time? After all, the discreet action of sliding a precious stone cover to reveal the time is far more refined than the 100 watts given off by the screen of today’s smart phones!
Cartier was founded by Louis-François Cartier in 1847, when he took over the jewelry workshop of his master, the artisan Adolphe Picard, on 29 rue Montorgueil in Paris. In 1856 the Princess Mathilde, niece of Napolean I and the cousin of the emperor Napolean III, made her first Cartier purchase. This was the beginning of a love story between the brand and the majority of Europe’s royalty, the Maharajas of India and rich American heiresses who fell in love with the brand’s creations.