Watch of the Week: Cartier Libre Collection

Courtesy Cartier

The stunning new timepieces from Cartier’s upcoming Libre collection of five reimagined classics is so amazing that it’s almost impossible to single out just one watch. While these limited-edition beauties recall the signature shapes of the Crash and Baignoire (bath) models, they are stretched or shrunk and refinished and bedazzled with precious stones until they become works of art.

That’s OK, because Cartier created the Libre collection to cater to the Collectionneuse, a woman who wants a complete set.

The Baignore-inspired beauties are the Débordante (overflowing), an openwork, white gold watch set with black spinels and diamonds; the curvy Infinie (infinite) with its hypnotic wheel of baguette-cut diamonds and spinels and white mother-of-pearl and Tahitian mother-of-pearl inlays; the miniaturized Etoilée has a star shower of white diamonds and black spinels; and the oversized Interdite (forbidden) turns the Baignoire’s classic oval shape sideways. Each version is numbered and limited to just 50 pieces each for the Debordante and Interdite, 20 for the Infinie, and 15 for the Débordante.

But if we had to choose just one of these fantastical watches, it would be the Crash Radieuse — a bold, gold take on the already Daliesque watch. The original Crash design is based on a Baignoire Allongé that was severely damaged in a car accident.  Aside from the Crash Skeleton that was introduced in 2015, this is the first variation of the Crash since it debuted in the 1960s. It was reissued in 2013 and has been a staple of Cartier stable ever since.

Courtesy Cartier

The Radieuse delves deeper into the disruption of the original Crash by decorating the dial with a shockwave motif that radiates out from the center of the dial and continues onto the 19K yellow gold case. Underneath these black lacquer ripples are crumpled, outsized but barely visible numerals.

Still the Crash Radieuse shares much of its code with the original. The classic Cartier Roman numerals are there as well as the cabochon-set crown. The layers of lacquer on the dial recall the psychedelia that was popular in the 1960s. The only hand-wound watch in the Libre collection, the Crash Radieuse is powered by a mechanical movement made by Jaeger-LeCoultre just like its predecessor (in this case, the 8970 MC). It is limited to just 50 pieces.

The collection will make its debut in January 2018. Prices are as follows: Crash Radieuse $40,700; Baignoire Interdite $43,200; Baignoire Débordante $82,500; Baignoire Infinie $100,000;  and Baignoire Étoilée $209,000. Visit for availability.