Drive De Cartier; A Change of Gear

If a watch brand could be accused of being too stylish, too beautiful or appealing to the eye, the prize would fall at Cartier’s (no doubt, elegantly shod) feet.  This has proved to be Cartier’s (aesthetically pleasing) millstone around the brand’s neck; with men’s watch trends leaning towards the chunky and wide, the refined sizing and styling of a Cartier watch can be frustratingly forgotten. The brand has previously tried to compete by introducing sportier watches, all featuring signature Cartier moves, but has previously stopped short of making a bold play for the larger sized men’s market.

One year ago, Cartier launched the Drive De Cartier collection. Now the collection expands with two new models: the Drive De Cartier Extra Flat and the Drive De Cartier Moon Phases, both presented at SIHH 2017.

As is typical for a Cartier, the Drive is of an understated design, with refined proportions and a restrained aesthetic; a cushion-cased dial and those striking, almost monolithic Roman numerals.

There has been much talk in the watch press about what the launch of the Drive represents for Cartier. A move towards more design-oriented timepieces, and a very public playing-down of the importance of their technical prowess? Maybe. The brand seems to be taking the time to look inwards, to decide what in particular Cartier is. A technical watchmaker, or a house of style, or both?

The latest models to join the Drive clubhouse prove that Cartier is sticking with this new-generation classic, and well they should. Anointed with nearly all the house codes- sapphire cabochon set into the dial, sword-shaped hands, and the aforementioned numerals- the Drive is impressive in its bold simplicity, but maintains a thoroughly French flair.

The Drive is a proper man’s watch, by which I mean emphasis to fall on the “proper”, rather than the “man”. It is a watch that maintains elegance and is forever appropriate; nodding to vintage pieces from a time when a man’s watch would elegantly murmur, rather than shout. It is above all, a watch for a gentleman- a stylish, debonair, well-spoken gentleman- and is the ideal partner to accompany him as he saunters from dressed-down occasion to business meeting, black-tie optional to black-tie only. This is a men’s watch to be reckoned with, and Cartier’s recent deep thinking seems to have paid off in spades.