Cartier’s Leading Lady

Reigning over a more concise offering than has been the case in previous years, Carole Forestier-Kasapi introduces a collection where Cartier’s aesthetic heritage takes centre stage. 2017 is the turn of the Panthère collection, with innovations in the Drive family complementing the female-focused novelties.

“We usually launch novelties for men one year and the next year novelties for women; last year’s big launch was Drive de Cartier so this year it’s the turn of women,” says Forestier-Kasapi, neatly introducing the premise behind Cartier’s 2017 collection and revealing that it has been a long time in the planning: “The Panthère was created early in the 1980s; around ten years ago we started to produce the new collection of 2017 watches.”

During her time at Cartier she has presided over notable developments including Cartier’s first in-house movement in 2008 and the award for Best Watchmaker at Grand Prix d’Horlogerie in 2013. Under her steer, Cartier’s fine watchmaking division has proven its impeccable credentials, and her openness to questioning convention has driven Cartier to offer serious innovation in the form of the Astrotourbillon, the ID One concept watch and the Rotonde de Cartier Central Chronograph.

Panthère is Cartier’s highlight for 2017.

Let’s start with Panthère, the 1980s icon. What have you done to update it?
Aesthetically, it’s the same. We didn’t change the aesthetics. Technically, compared to the oldwe adapted the bracelet in terms of flexibility, but the aesthetics didn’t move. Panthère is Panthère, we can’t change it. It’s an icon, so you don’t touch it – it’s a rebirth.

How do you balance a need to be reactive with your longer-term planning of which products you’re developing?
In terms of mechanisms, it’s a very long term plan. Between three and five years; there is no flexibility around that. And for external parts like a case, bracelet and so on, it’s around two years. After that there is more flexibility in areas such as the aesthetics of a dial and so on. To develop and industrialise a new case, a new shape, you need two years. It’s difficult to move faster after that.

Within Cartier’s output there’s a large diversity of styles within its offering – how do you keep a focus?
For me there is just one Cartier style but a diversity of offering. But in terms of style we have codes at Cartier that we use even if we change the models. These are the Cartier codes, such as our Roman numerals, blue cabochons, grey dials with decorations… we use this ‘alphabet’ through our collection.

In terms of the creativity, how do you approach the creative process?
There are different expressions of creativity. For me, the first is creativity in the work such as we did around the skeleton pieces, this meant teamwork and working very closely with aesthetic designers. The second way of creativity is through the reinterpretation of classical complications. The third way is to invent new things, create new solutions. I don’t believe in one person working alone over three years, it doesn’t work. It’s better to reflect on projects and work together and if you have the best watchmaker, the best designer and the best engineer, you’ll have the best watch. My role is showing the way rather than making all the decisions. I don’t want to make decisions for the people working daily on the projects.

Drive de Cartier watches for men are updated for 2017; and as always with Cartier, unique high-jewellery offerings form part of the collection, such as Panthere_Joueuse watch (right).