Editor’s Note: This is a more personal feature on Cartier watches, rather than being a straight-forward usual review of the Cartier Ronde Croisière. For our standard hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
Nostalgia ‘Keeps Ticking’
Watches can be magical. Form the right bond, and they have the power to carry you through thick and thin. My relationship with Cartier watches started a few years ago, when the Cartier Ronde Croisière made an expected fall in my lap.
There is a quote by Oscar Wilde that goes: “Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us”.
The Cartier Ronde Croisière was announced in mid 2015, and as far as I remember, hit the boutiques here in Australia around end 2015 / beginning 2016. Kind of a capsule collection, these pretty much disappeared from the stores after a short three-year run.
My time with the Cartier Ronde Croisière has been a fortunate one; and to echo Wilde’s sentiments, I am glad that the timepiece has become a tangible diary, a visual reminder of the art of watchmaking, a brand’s excellence, and my personal bond.
Memory 1: Eased My Suffering
A few years ago I accidentally chopped my favourite finger (aka the middle one). ER and surgery and stitches and what not later, the need for a self-reward was quite high.
My mother came to pay a visit from overseas, and during one of the rare outings in the lead up to recovery, I happened to walk into a Cartier boutique here in Sydney. This also happened to be the first and only time I have been watch looking / shopping with my mother.
Up until then, I always had respect for Cartier watches, and liked them in general. When I think of Cartier watches, I think of the likes of Cary Grant, Andy Warhol and Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair. Generally speaking, a bit more matured and older people if you may. And of course the inimitable Cartier Tank.
The story of Cartier watches that started with the Santos and Tank is very impressive, and the Tank happens to be on my ‘must-have’ list. But being in my mid-30s, I just don’t feel that I am that person yet who can pull off a timeless gold Cartier Tank, like the debonair gentlemen I mentioned earlier.
A Cartier Tank is a must — see what I did there — but hopefully perhaps 15 years down the line. I need more spunk in my collection, and I felt that the Cartier Ronde Croisière line-up provided just that.
Th 42mm diameter, 9.7mm thick timepiece with a faux bezel is not at all what would conventionally be construed as a classic Cartier timepiece. In fact, ask a purist and he/she might shun the idea of even calling these a part of quintessential Cartier watches.
But to me it features all the elements that make the DNA of Cartier watches: it retains the typical spinel cabochon spinel crown, central guilloche, the B/W railroad peripheral track, and the Roman numerals, but in addition, brings in a more contemporary and youthful vibe.
Talking about Roman numerals, I kinda have a thing for them, so any timepiece flaunting these is usually a winner in my books by default.
Back to the ref. W2RN0005, which uses traces of pink gold to present a mix of old meets new. In addition to the typical Cartier watch features I listed above, the Cartier Ronde Croisière features a rather unique diver’s style but immovable bezel with contrasting Arabic numerals, a wearable for even my slim ~16cm wrists lug-to-lug casing of only 46mm, a modern date wheel with matching colour to that of the dial, vintage 1950s/60s sports watch styling, and a plethora of dial finishes.
The dial under different lighting is a thing to behold, and the skeletonized sword hands actually work in favour of the design architecture. Suffice to say, not only did I end up with a 42mm diameter watch — my comfort go-to zone is 37mm to 41mm — but the Cartier Ronde Croisière also became the first and only watch I have bought with my mother in my long watch collecting journey. And most importantly, the beauty of dial and the ‘honeymoon period’ ensured that my silly finger injury suffering was eased.
And even though it was kind of an impulse buy for me, echoing the sentiment of “a moment lasts for seconds but the memories lasts forever,” luckily for me, its memory has become everlasting.
Memory 2: Excellent Customer Service
For many who aren’t millionaires, buying a luxury good is an experience in itself. It is not a daily occurrence, and when it happens, it should stand out.
Given I have dabbled in the world of watches in various capacities, writer, collector and observer, I sadly have to say that the buying or browsing experience is not the best these days. It varies significantly with every AD, boutique or city. From snobbery to lack of knowledge to sometimes unavailability of stock, watch ‘browsing’ experience is not what it used to be, say a decade ago.
But my experience both buying the watch — they somehow went all out turning it into a gala affair for an only 7’100 AUD purchase — and during after-care, has been exceptional.
The stand out moment that made me like Cartier watches even more was my experience at the Singapore Ngee Ann City Orchard Road Cartier boutique.
I was on holidays and wanted to get one of the watches I had taken in my travel roll to be engraved. Given the Cartier Ronde Croisière has a blank canvas case-back, I figured this should be the one.
In fact, when I was buying this timepiece, the very thought had occurred to me, and was another deciding factor in its favour.
A lot of Cartier timepieces have premium real estate on the case-back, and make them ideal for engravings. The difference between them and say Rolex case-backs is that the former are generally completely devoid of any inscriptions, and in my opinion look too blank. Cartier watches, or even Tudor or Jaeger-LeCoultre timepieces on the other hand usually have a bit of texts, and are engraving in the most of all that doesn’t appear jarring.
All like in my case, watches that have memories attached can benefit from engravings.
The Cartier engraving service was complimentary, the customer service lady we dealt with not only expedited the engraving service as we had to leave back for Sydney shortly, but also when the watch came back with an extra tiny little engraving needle mark where it was not supped to be, she offered to get that fixed and profusely apologised a million times.
Of course that didn’t matter to me — when it comes to watches ironically imperfections can sometimes become more valuable anyway — but her sincere apologies and later showing us with complimentary ‘gifts’ — let’s just saw that we wouldn’t be needing travel pouches and perfumes for a long time — just made me appreciate the brand and its culture more.
I got it engraved with “Keep Ticking”.
Little did I know that a short while later, this would mean more than just a pseudo-suggestion to the watch’s trust-worthy calibre 1847MC; it also saved my sanity.
Memory 3: Saved My Sanity
A life has its ups and downs, and one evening I again ended up in the ER, this time with doctors suspecting something fishy with my heart. While that’s all resolved now thankfully, that was a stressful time. And guess what I had on my wrist – the Cartier Ronde Croisière.
The “Keep Ticking” inscription at the back kept me going, a sort of beacon of hope and positivity.
And when I wasn’t looking at the inscription, I was distracting myself with the nuances of the dial: the almost black central guilloche may be stamped, but its sun-ray effect is mesmerising.
This central disc is followed by a slightly raised, and sun-ray finished dark grey or slate, almost anthracite-coloured, ring that carries the stereotypical of Cartier watches Roman numerals that in contrasting golden hues aid legibility.
Since these are appliqué, these do not contain the secret signature, but instead provide for a more three-dimensional appearance.
A detail I love here is the execution of the date window. Not only the base wheel is black to match the dial, it is nicely framed by a white box and matching white date numerals. The quintessential Cartier watches theme of black and white is very present, even if filtered down. And most importantly, I love how the hour marker for 3’o clock is truncated yet finished. It is not abruptly cut-into. Exceptional detail there.
Following this ring is the peripheral minute track, again with the black/white theme. But what I like about this is that it is sloped, reminiscent of a child’s railroad track toy. It feels it’s ‘alive’ and adds to the 3D appeal of the watch’s dial.
Last but not the least is the brushed ADLC-coated bezel that sadly doesn’t move. But given these are part of the Croisière or Cruise collection, these fit the bill for a watch that can be worn leisurely on a yacht followed by an evening soirée. As I mentioned earlier, I like the quirky contradicting presence of both Roman and and Arabic numerals.
The bezel may be functionally useless but aesthetically, it helps in layering the timepiece, making it wear smaller than its 42mm diameter. Hence making it wear well on my slim ~16cm wrists.
Combination of these aspects has made me appreciate Cartier watches even more; I have since looked at even the ‘simple’ Cartier Tank with invigorated interest. Any brand that is willing to put thought and effort into the design of their watches is stellar in my book.
And as much as some uneducated watch snobs might refer to some of the brand’s offerings as ‘fashion’ watches, the world of Cartier watches has a lot to offer, both legacy and horological expertise wise.
I read a quote by none other than Francesca Cartier Brickell: “Luxury doesn’t mean the most extravagant object, it’s a commitment to create something proper”.
The Cartier Ronde Croisière retailing for only 7’100 AUD may not be the most extravagant timepiece by the Maison; but it surely reflects the brand’s commitment to create something proper.
Memory 4: Ronde Croisière Didn’t Go Up In Price
This is true for almost every brand; some of their watches go up in value and some don’t.
It may seem like a con to many, but to me the fact that the Cartier Ronde Croisière pieces haven’t gone up in price is a valuable asset. I bought this watch for myself, and barring life maybe throwing a cruel turn of events in the future, I don’t intend to sell this watch.
And given the bond I have come to form with this watch, it also makes for an excellent piece to pass on to any kid that I may have. I personally would have him/her get a watch that’s got a great backstory — and keeps time well — rather than something they can sell for a lot of money.
It is said that “at some part of life or the other, we all become memories for others; so make sure you be a good one”. My watch collection like me, one day will become a memory. With the Cartier Ronde Croisière, I know at least one piece inside the collection will be a good one.
Memory 5: A Reliable and Versatile Companion
Talking about keeping time well, in the short years I have had this watch for, it has been a pleasure to use.
There is nothing too extraordinary about the movement, but it ticks to satisfaction. The only 3.8 mm thick calibre 1847MC features 23 jewels, beats at the standard frequency of 4Hz, and offers a power reserve of 42-hours (the latter being the only aspect I don’t like).
It features bidirectional rotor winding that’s been very smooth and efficient. The watch also tends to run to COSC-specifications which is amazing. I know that the watch also features high anti-magnetism along with a Nivaflex hairspring — it is designed to resist up-to 1200 gauss If I am not wrong thanks to the nickel phosphorus escapement components and a soft iron inner cage layer — and that’s again very impressive.
The watch and its movement have no doubt taken a beating over the years, without complaining even once. Because it has become a trustworthy timepiece for me to put on, it has also ended up being very versatile.
It’s got great classic dress watch vibes but thanks to that bezel and all polished case it also brings in an added vintage sporty affair. The 100m water-resistance further helps in wearing this without worrying.
The Cartier Ronde Croisière with gold accents is a classy watch, one that can be dressed up or down with ease. Cartier now also sells rather reasonably priced calf leather straps with quick release system, and that’s further helped me wear this watch more often.
Given the small 9.7mm thickness and the short lugs, it also fits perfectly under the cuffs. It’s got the soul of Cartier watches, encased inside an under-the-radar aesthetic but with superb wrist presence.
That’s All Folks!
“True nostalgia is an ephemeral composition of disjointed memories”, said the American writer Florence King.
Like any true watch enthusiast, I have always admired and respected the history of Cartier watches. But my memories with the Cartier Ronde Croisière have led me to not only own a timepiece that is close to my heart, but also has led me to fall in love with Cartier watches.
And while most watch purchases provide only a momentary ephemeral solace, the presence of many disjointed memories associated with my Cartier Ronde Croisière ensure that regardless of how Florence King feels, in my first foray into the world of Cartier watches, I have found makings of true nostalgia.
Through one of the best Cartier watches that I am lucky to call my own, I can relive my memories as and when I please. As much as my wallet might fight me on this, I keenly await the next chapter in my Cartier sojourn. Fresh memories are always welcome.
To find out more about Cartier watches, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise specified are ©Watch Ya Gonna Do About It.