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  • Harry Fane

Monte Carlo or Bust Part 2

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

In the glory days when rich, handsome young men would buy their wristwatches at Cartier in the morning and then jump on their horses for a quick chukka or two of polo, it was quickly discovered that their watches (or at least the crystals), would most likely get damaged in the rough and tumble. So, in 1931 Cartier and Jaeger the watchmaking company, patented a design for a watch which was reversible so the dial side could be turned over and thereby protected. The mechanism by which this was achieved was an incredible piece of engineering which is a work of art in itself. This proved very successful for those polo players and other sportsmen who wished to wear their watches and not worry about them being damaged. Cartier has continued to make these models known as 'Basculantes' (literally 'tilting') ever since even though we are long past the time when the people who shop at Cartier also play polo!

This week Art Curial sold one of the earliest Basclantes, from 1933, and which had been originally purchased by Barbara Hutton. This provenance helped spur the price to a heady US $ 95,000.00. Interest in early men's Cartier wristwatches is visibly increasing and auction prices are getting stronger. Cartier made so very very few Tank watches. Only about 1800 from 1919 to 1960. Not only do they remain the most elegant of all wristwatches but the originals are also very hard to find.

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