A Unique Mystery Clock (And Other Curiosities From The Cartier Archive) Are Now On Display At The Cooper Hewitt Museum

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Cartier, it goes without saying, makes incredible watches and jewelry, and moreover has been a design leader in both for many decades. The craftsmanship and iconic status of objects such as the Cartier Tank watch and the Juste en Clou bracelet are a direct result of the maison’s rich history of making no-holds-barred luxury designs and objets d’art since its founding. And now a selection from the archives will be on view at the Copper Hewitt museum in New York City.

Look in any Cartier book and you will be dazzled by the ornate clocks, watches, tiaras, boxes, pens, necklaces, and more that Cartier’s made over the decades. Since opening its doors in 1847, Cartier has ruled the luxury roost – and, back in the day, custom orders were a big part of the business. One of the house’s strongest decades was the 1920s, when Cartier produced some of its most memorable and most chic pieces, not to mention some of the most unusual. It is really rare to be able to see these special objets in person though, since most of them are either  in personal collections, or locked up in the Cartier archives for safe keeping. But if you are going to be in New York City in the next couple of months, you’ll have the rare opportunity to see eleven pieces up close.

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1925 Cartier Tutti Frutti bracelet

The Jazz Age: American Style In The 1920s just opened at the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York City, and it runs through August 20. The exhibition explores the connections between France, Austria, and the United States through luxury objects, design, and art. I was able to see a selection of these objects in person earlier this week, and can assure you that they are incredible.

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1924 Cartier Bandeau in platinum with diamonds and pearls.

The highlight by far for horology enthusiasts is the unique Mystery Clock from 1921 that’s pictured up above. It’s made of ebonite, turquoise-blue and white enamel, yellow gold, and platinum. Oh, and the body of the clock? Those are two rather larger citrines. The movement is a gold-plated eight-day movement with Swiss lever-escapement and Breguet balance spring. If you haven’t seen one of these in person, I highly recommend going to the exhibition – and even if you have, you probably haven’t seen one this over-the-top.

cartier scarab belt

1926 Cartier Scarab belt buckle in blue Egyptian faience, black enamel, gold, and platinum, set with diamonds and sapphires.

Other objets include Doris Duke’s 1924 platinum tiara, a 1926 Cartier Scarab belt buckle, a 1925 Tutti Frutti bracelet, and a selection of other beautiful pieces including vanity cases, cigarette boxes, more bracelets and necklaces, and more. While these aren’t necessarily horological in nature (there’s just the lone Mystery Clock), the craftsmanship is out of this world, and can be appreciated by anyone and everyone who loves great style and design.

For more information on the exhibition, visit the Cooper Hewitt online.

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