A large collection of Cartier clocks will be going up for auction as part of Christie’s online sale running next month. ‘101 Cartier Clocks’ is a collection created over three decades and spans over 80 years of clockmaking at Cartier, tracing the progression from Belle Epoque to Art Deco to pieces dating from the 1950s.

‘This is the only collection of its type in the world, collected over three decades with passion, knowledge and the desire to possess the best that Cartier’s clock workshop has ever produced,’ says Marie-Cecile Cisamolo, jewellery specialist at Christie’s. ‘I do not believe that such a collection will ever be formed again – and how timely it comes to the market now, when time has received a new meaning to many of us and we might start looking at it differently.’

Cartier clock
Art Deco onyx, enamel and ruby ’Mignonette’ clock

The collection is testament to Cartier’s originality and skill evident at the beginning of the 20th century when Louis Cartier collaborated with master clockmaker Maurice Coüet. Coüet, inspired by the magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, created the technologically groundbreaking Mystery clocks, which hid their mechanisms in the frame and appeared to run as if by magic.

Other pieces, such as the planet clocks dating from 1912, also assimilated magical elements. By superimposing dials – with the lower dials usually in blue enamel and constantly rotating – they depicted not only the passing of time but also, in some pieces, a diamond-encrusted crescent moon or a comet rotating within the dial.

Cartier clock
Art Deco mother-of-pearl, rock crystal, coral and diamond desk clock 

‘These clocks were made in several materials, like nephrite, agate, onyx and even rutilated quartz, to show the great variety and artistry of this period of time,’ says Cisamolo. ‘The colours (red, blue, black) as well as the shaped corners (called ‘japanese corners’) are often to be found and indicate the strong Asian influence in Cartier’s designs in the 1920s.’ §

Cartier clock
Art Deco nephrite jade, rock crystal, enamel and diamond desk clock
 
Cartier clock

Mid twentieth century lapis lazuli, agate and diamond clock
 

Cartier clock
Art Deco onyx, enamel, ruby and diamond clock