14.10.2015 - Cartier

What Is So Mysterious About Cartier’s Latest Release? The Clé de Cartier Mysterious Hour Watch

Some watches are a lot more interesting to read (and write) about when they have some kind of backstory to them – a meaning to their creation that actually connects the wearer to the piece. One reason, therefore, Cartier is a personal favorite brand of mine is their pieces often strive to offer the customer emotional satisfaction. Their latest piece, that has sent a lot of watch-lovers crazy, is the newest Clé de Cartier Mysterious Hour timepiece that was exhibited at Watches&Wonders 2015 (an haute horlogerie exhibition in Asia). The watch flies the flag for three icons of Cartier watchmaking: the Clé de Cartier; the mysterious mechanical movement complication; and the semi-skeletonised dial that can be found in many of Cartier’s higher end watches. Combine the three, and the Clé de Cartier Mysterious Hour watch is conceived.

“We at Cartier firmly believe that you buy a watch for an emotional reason. Purchasing a Cartier creation means understanding the significance of everything our maison stands for: search for excellence, exception, timeless beauty and universal style, and patrimonial value.” – Cartier CEO Stanislas de Quercize.


The elegant and slender case provides both style and comfort, although one of the main draws of this watch is found on the dial. The name “Mysterious” on this watch comes from the movement, which gives the effect that the two hands to float around the dial without any attachments. This was inspired by historic Cartier clocks that used transparent discs to move hands, and were therefore named “mystery clocks” as it wasn’t evident that the hands where not connected to anything, giving the illusion they were floating. This technique has been applied to timepieces in the past, but Cartier introduced the “mystery” hands, which are on transparent discs in the Cartier 9981 MC movement. The in-house caliber 9981 MC, comprised of 158 parts, is water resistant to 30 meters and comes with a power reserve of 48 hours.


Differentiating from the standard Clé de Cartier, the Mysterious Hours is 41mm as opposed to 40mm. This is probably necessary though, as the movement in this watch is wider and has to fit inside a crescent shape. The case is still pretty thin, measuring at just 11.25mm. It is interesting to note that the Clé Mysterious Hours will launch with case materials in 18k rose gold and 950 palladium, and probably never a stainless steel version, which is a bit of a shame.

The Clé de Cartier Mysterious Hours has a silver openwork dial with touches of blue in the Roman numerals, as well as on the sapphire on the crown. By balancing all of its elements, the Clé de Cartier has perfectly achieved a minimalistic elegance. The Roman numerals, rail-track minute circle and sword-shaped hands are all gentle reminders that this is a Cartier.

The soft curve for the design is new for Cartier, and so is the winding crown, which resembles a key. “Clé” in French means key, and there derives the name of this watch. This is a significant feature of the watch. The indexing winding mechanism allows the crown to return to its original position with changing the hands.


The palladium version of this watch will come fitted with a black crocodile strap, whereas the rose gold version will be paired with a brown alligator skin strap, both including a double adjustable folding buckle in 18-carat white gold. The price for the former is £50,000, with the rose gold version a little cheaper at £46,700.

photo credit: Haute Time

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