Katherine S. Cunanan

Panthere Revelation

Ronde Louis Cartier Wood and Gold Leaf Marquetry Watch

The Cartier Panthere Watch is one of the most sought-after watches there is. The House of Cartier first introduced this watch in 1914, and the original Panther was offered in onyx and diamonds. The response was fantastic and since then the feline has been interpreted in various ways. In fact, part of the excitement is waiting to see how Cartier will reinvent the Panthere the next time. Will it be the whole cat, or just the face? Will it be a full-on face on the dial, or just a silhouette? What metals and precious stones will they use this time?

This year, Cartier presents us with the Libre, Metier d’Art, Revelation d’une Panthere Watch. The watch is a Ronde Louis Cartier piece, meaning a classic watch. Classic it may be, but the presentation is anything but boring. The House has chosen to pair techniques not previously seen together in a Cartier watch: wood and gold leaf marquetry.

Marquetry is creativity expressed in woodworking.  The textures, colors, and grains of different types of wood are chosen and set in place to create images or patterns. The earliest sample of wood marquetry dates back to 1563 in Breslau, Germany. Modern marquetry techniques benefit from the easy access to literally thousands of species of trees from across the globe. The marquetry artist, or marquetarian, peruses wood veneers to find the exact grain, color, or texture he needs for his design.

One wood veneer that is popular is the Macassar ebony, from Africa. The hardwood is easily recognizable due to its stripes of light and dark brown. The combined beauty and durability of the Macassar ebony make it highly sought after. In fact, the Cartier craftsmen chose the Macassar ebony for the Panthere watch. The patterns existing in the wood made a good starting point for reinventing the feline. But wood alone was not enough, so Cartier added another technique: gold leaf.

And while a tree of gold would be an amazing thing to see, gold leaf doesn’t actually grow on trees. Gold leaf is actual gold that has been hammered into extremely thin sheets. So thin that it feels like the thinnest facial tissue when you hold it gingerly in your hands, and you will likely end up with little gold specs on your fingertips.  Not a bad thing.

The marquetry artists of Cartier work their magic at Maison des Métiers d’Art in La-Chaux-de-Fonds. The choose which exact piece of Macassar ebony embodies the exoticism and mystery they want then pair it with the 24-carat gold leaf. The dark brown hue of the wood and the mahogany highlights are perfectly accented by the gold leaf. Each watch dial takes some five days of craftsmanship before coming to completion.

The Panthere case is 18-karat gold with diamonds on the bezel, and comes in at 36mm. The crown is beaded and also has a brilliant-cut diamond. The watch is powered by the Calibre 1847 MC. The eyes of this Panthere are two bright green peridots, and they are perfect to complete the head of the panther.

This latest Panthere is striking and regal. If it calls to you, answer the call soon. The Revelation d’une Panthere Watch is a limited edition of 30 individually numbered pieces.