Reimagined Cartier Baignoire watch is a fitting homage to the original

The new Cartier Baignoire watch nods to the brand’s design history

Cartier Baignoire watch with gold bangle
Cartier’s Mini Baignoire bangle watch is available in yellow gold (pictured here), rose gold or fully pavéd versions. Mini Baignoire de Cartier bangle watch, with quartz movement in 18ct yellow gold, £11,300, by Cartier
(Image credit: Benedict Morgan)

With its minimalist mood and simple silhouette, the reinterpreted Cartier Baignoire is part bangle, part watch, and references key moments in Cartier’s design history. Originally conceived in 1912, the Baignoire is commonly thought to take its name from the French word for bathtub, but it actually refers to VIP seats at the opera. ‘It was where the wealthy people sat,’ explains Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s image, style and heritage director. ‘There were six seats together, with a kind of barrier around them.’

The new Cartier Baignoire watch

Reinvented numerous times since its inception, today’s Cartier Baignoire subscribes to the poetry of reduction in its elegant play with precise geometrical forms. Designed to be worn as close to the wrist as possible, the flat face is a sleek foil for the contours of the bracelet. The design ‘is linked to our culture as a jeweller’, says Rainero. ‘When you’re a jeweller, [you are considering] the right fitting to the body, and beyond that, the way an object that you have on your body accompanies your movements, so it’s not a constraint, but, on the contrary, it adds magnificence to your movement. That is the key. This is the essence of being a jeweller, and in our way of creating watches, we always have it in mind – it’s second nature and obvious for us to stay true to it.’

The new watch stays faithful to the clean, gold form of the original. The emphasis on flawless fit results in an amalgamation of elemental shapes; to keep the case sitting as closely as possible to the wrist, the loop of the bangle was designed as a fluid circle in its own right, cutting a slender silhouette.

‘We had different proposals with different volumes, and that’s the thing – you can only decide when you have the prototype; it’s not something you decide on the basis of a drawing,’ Rainero adds. ‘You have to have a volume in your hand to realise the effect it will have. The curve is slightly different to the one on the case; it couldn’t be exactly the same. You should have the impression that it is flat on the wrist underneath the bracelet. That’s why the curve doesn’t go to the end – it’s a question of proportions.’

A version of this article appears in the Wallpaper* July 2023 issue, available in print, on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to subscribers of Apple News +. Subscribe to Wallpaper* today

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.