Famed for their iconic collections and classical styling, French jeweler and watchmaker Cartier holds a vital position within the horology industry. However, one such collection that flies under the radar is the Ceinture, which, despite its 1927 launch, is largely unknown and overlooked by the watch collecting masses.
Reintroduced to Cartier's line-up circa 1973, the Ceinture came in two case sizes, 25mm and 27mm (of which I have the larger), until an ever beefier 31mm variant was introduced. Powered by the manual wind cal. 78.1 movement, the model I have here is perhaps the variant that is truest to Cartier's ethos with its yellow gold case and brilliant white dial with black Roman numerals, a railroad minute track, and blued steel hands.
Without a doubt, the Ceinture's most distinctive element is its unusual octagonal case. Reminiscent of a belt's buckle ('ceinture' means 'belt' in French), the Ceinture resembles a square that has had its corners cut, which in turn enables the watch to wear more prominently than its dimensions may suggest. With its stepped bezel design, the Ceinture also forgoes Cartier's signature sapphire cabochon crown so that its octagonal crown can sit within the bezel, a feature that Cartier calls "remontoir imperdable" (captive winding).
Blending Cartier's conservative design language with an unusual case shape, the Ceinture blurs the lines between the Tank's rectangular design and the Santos Dumont's angular design in what is a complete expression of free-thinking creativity. Snug on the wrist with its humble proportions, the Ceinture stands proud with its unique crown setting, distinctive yellow gold case, and unmistakably classical dial of which we have all come to know and love from the legendary jeweler and watchmaker.