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Like many of its predecessors, the Clé de Cartier is culturally evocative with features clearly pointing toward the future of watchmaking. It’s this duality—a focus on innovation and veritable respect for the history of the brand—that makes Cartier’s latest creation one of the year’s most notable. Drawing from the distinctive designs of the popular Tank (which was inspired by the aggressive rectangular shape of WWI’s armored vehicles) and the circular Ballon Bleu, the Clé introduces the tightly drawn curve to the watch wearer’s vernacular. From the bezel to the lugs to the ovoid case, all facets of the watch have been gently rounded or tapered for total fluidity between elements.

The seamless silhouette is, in part, what drives one’s eye straight to the key-like crown, which gives the new model its name. Developed with convenience in mind, the key allows the wearer to adjust the time and date and push the crown back to its original position without the hands moving, a simple innovation affirming Cartier’s design savvy. This dual-direction winding system, part of Cartier’s new in-house movement, 1847 MC, keeps the wearer from mistakenly moving the hands, as a simple twist of the key pivots the crown back in to place. The automatic timepiece’s 42-hour power reserve is also courtesy of the 1847 MC movement—not that we anticipate anyone parting with it for that long.

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