Though Cartier has produced some fine mechanical watches during its 170 year history (like the perennial favorite, the Tank), by the mid-90s the brand was known primarily as a producer of quartz watches. In an effort to rejuvenate their status as a premier manufacture, in 1998 Cartier launched the Collection Privée Cartier Paris, or CPCP for short. The Collection Privée resurrected classic wristwatch designs from the Cartier archives and utilized high-grade mechanical movements from the likes of Piaget, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Girard-Perregaux.
This particular watch, the Tortue Monopusher (or, pardon our French, the Mono Poussoir), uses a case design Cartier conceived in the 1920s--the Tortue. While their Tank collections had a number of varying case shapes (Française, Louis, Cintrée or Basculante, just to name a few) the Tortue is a different look entirely. Its sensuous curves lent itself well to use in many different watches, from time-only to complicated ones, including the original monopusher chronograph in 1928.
When Cartier released the first series of the Collection Privée 1998, the Tortue Monopusher was among the first in the line. In keeping with the spirit of collaboration that Cartier had always employed in supplying movements for its watches, the brand relied on an outside party for the movement of the Monopusher. Rather than Cartier's Richemont stablemate, JLC, the brand entrusted a company called THA Èbauche.
Who might that be, you wonder? None other than Vianney Halter, François-Paul Journe, and Denis Flagolet, who would later go on to form De Bethune. While we're not certain of Journe's hand in developing the Caliber 045MC caliber, his role in THA Èbauche is doubtless. And Flagolet later used the caliber in a monopusher designed for De Bethune, cementing the Tortue Monopusher's place among the greats of haute horlogerie and giving it just that little bit of credit among fans of independent watchmakers alike.
The byword of the Tortue Monopusher is elegance, from the curves of the case to the incredible guilloché dial and blued steel hands. The movement, glimpsed through a sapphire exhibition case back, is a work of art in and of itself, beautifully finished to the highest order. And though a chronograph by its nature is meant for use in sports timing, the slim profile of the case--and the fact that the movement relies on a single pusher to operate it--makes it perhaps the only chronograph that looks best when peeking out from under the cuff of a bespoke suit.
This particular example is in incredible condition, coming from the private collection of a prominent New York City based collector. Accompanied by its original box and books, this piece is without question a Cartier of the next degree, and as our friends at HODINKEE said a few years back, the Tortue offers a ton of bang for the buck!
18k Yellow gold case is approximately 35mmX45mm (excluding crown). Cartier Reference 2356. THA Èbauche Caliber 045MC Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa 1990s.
Overall Condition: Case is in excellent, like-new condition, showing only minor signs of wear from careful use. Dial is in as-new condition.
Includes original 17mm brown Cartier crocodile strap with signed deployant clasp.
Also includes box, books, and secondary warranty card dated 1-14-15.