Cartier Tortue Monopusher Chronograph

Cartier Tortue Monopusher Chronograph

Despite being a purveyor of haute joaillerie, Cartier has had a long tradition of making watches. It started in 1904, when founder Louis Cartier made what was arguably the very first wristwatch for his friend Alberto Santos-Dumont and named it after his friend. Throughout the years, the brand made a name for itself with its most famous wristwatch, the Tank, in all its multitudinous forms.

But for this watch, Cartier used another case shape entirely—the Tortue.

Instead of the long lines of the Tank, the Tortue is a different creature altogether. It’s sensuous, curvy, chic. It was designed by Louis Cartier in 1912, and has the distinction of being the third watch Cartier created after the Santos and the Tank.

Like those two watches, the Tortue was time only, until in 1928 Cartier released a mono-pusher or monopoussoir chronograph—a feat which they would repeat in 1999.

Cartier managed to stay afloat throughout the 1980s and 1990s by adopting quartz technology, a decision which astonished purists. So in 1998 the Maison announced the Collection Privée, in which classic designs from Cartier’s golden era were updated just in time for the new millennium. Rather than use quartz movements, the Maison used calibres borrowed from Piaget or Jaeger-LeCoultre.

However, for the movement of the Tortue, Cartier commissioned a company called THA Èbauche—which was founded by none other than Vianney Halter, Denis Flagolet (founder of De Bethune), and François-Paul Journe.

With such an illustrious collection of watchmakers behind it, it’s no surprise that the Calibre 045MC is a work of art in and of itself—technically as well as visually.

It’s powered by a clutch system in which the chronograph central wheel is activated by a double swivel pin. In layman’s terms, this eliminates the “skip” of the seconds hand that often happens with chronographs operated by a lateral clutch, resulting in a smooth operation that is a pleasure to watch. The movement itself is beautiful, finished to perfection, and can be seen dancing away through the sapphire exhibition case back.

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. 

In warm 18k yellow gold, accompanied by its original brown leather strap, it exudes an elegance that can only be Cartier.


SKU: AS02342

18k yellow gold case is approximately 34mmX43mm. Reference 2356.

Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition overall with minor signs of use and wear. Dial is in excellent, as-new condition. Cabochon crown.

Includes one riginal 17mm brown Cartier crocodile strap with signed deployant clasp.

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