Lunar Excursion Module (exact replica) Cartier Paris, 1969 CREDIT: NILS HERRMANN, CARTIER COLLECTION © CARTIER
25 MAY 2017 • 3:14PM
No other luxury brand manages its heritage with quite the same erudition and style as Cartier, as can be seen through the constantly refreshed cycle of exhibitions that the maison stages or supports around the world, from properly academic retrospectives presented by the likes of the British Museum to more conceptual experiences such as the “Precious Garage” staged as part of Milan’s Fuorisalone.
Crash wristwatch Cartier London, 1967 Gold, one sapphire cabochon with a leather strap. Tradition holds that this model represents an interpretation of a watch damaged in a crash. CREDIT: VINCENT WULVERYCK, CARTIER COLLECTION © CARTIER
The Cartier in Motion show, staged at the new Design Museum in Kensington breaks new territory for the brand as it leaves much of the curation to Norman Foster and the museum’s director, Dejan Sudjic. Lord Foster gives the exhibition a much more personal flavour that Cartier could impart itself, as he focuses on the characters and cultural shifts that excite his attention.
In practice, that means acknowledging the enormous energy that Baron Hausmann’s new city plan unleashed, looking at Louis Cartier’s relationship with adventurous spirits such as the pioneering aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont and Gustave Eiffel and exploring Louis Cartier’s interest in new technologies. There’s a replica of the Demoiselle plane that Santos-Dumont built to contest the Deutsch Grand Prix d'Aviation as well as designs for cars, boats and planes from Louis Cartier himself.
Cigarette case circa 1928. It is accompanied by a map with blue enamel arrows indicating the stages of the path followed by the pilot. CREDIT: NILS HERRMANN, CARTIER COLLECTION © CARTIER
The greater part of the exhibition concentrates on the watches and timekeepers that Cartier designs for the subsequent generations, for whom flying was more glamour than adventure (at least in theory). There are numerous versions of the Tank, the wristwatch that Cartier designed after seeing a First World War Renault tank; mystery clocks and nécessaires for motorists; while the Foster touch makes itself felt through beautifully designed showcases and models made by the Foster and Partners studio.
Underpinning the exhibition is Foster’s absolute respect for the craftsmanship that is at the heart of everything that Cartier does, a concern that takes physical form with the inclusion of a watchmaker’s workbench and tools.