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  • Harry Fane

Is the vintage Cartier market moribund?

The market seems quiet and empty. The dealers who are working are chasing the same items and searching desperately for something exciting to buy. The searches on Sotheby's and Christie's sites are producing very little to raise the blood pressure and it’s both a little depressing and a little worrying. People are predicting a '20s style boom will follow the end of the Corona pandemic but sometimes it seems the 2020s will be over before the epidemic is.

In the Mountbatten auction at Sotheby's last week, there were two very pretty Cartier clocks from around 1920. If one reads the Channon Diaries as discussed before, these two clocks are a perfect example of how Cartier’s exquisite little clocks and bijoux ended up in the grand houses of the day. Cartier was the place to shop. They had the prettiest pieces and it was impressively expensive.

Both clocks made good prices (£ 37,800 for the blue and £ 27,700 for the white). The square, blue clock had the most superb enamel case where the engraved silver under-layer produced an amazing optical effect as the light struck the enamel surface. One of the best examples of Cartier’s ‘guilloche’ enamel technique I have ever seen.

The other double dial timepiece with both a clock with a matching barometer was elegant in its simplicity and practicality. This clock struck a particular chord with me because only a month before I was admiring the exact same clock in one of the last remaining grand family homes in London. I commented on the clock and the owner told me it had belonged to her grandmother. To see a second version from the Mountbatten home was quite a surprising coincidence.





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