We knew all about the “king of jewelers and the jeweler of kings”. We were aware of its lofty ambitions in the world of haute horlogerie. We learned with interest of its drive to integrate a wide range of skills and we even guessed that the Maison, having built up such momentum, was unlikely to stop in its tracks, but very few among us imagined Cartier would soon be launching a diving watch.
And yet, with its new timepiece, Calibre de Cartier Diver, the Maison has not only taken a heady plunge into deep waters, but has also planned its dive to perfection. Far from being a sudden impulse, the preparation was a long and carefully considered process. In launching its Calibre watch in 2010, Cartier introduced a watch with strong and powerful lines to its collection. By the standards of the Maison, this was an imposing timepiece, robustly structured, and heralding a new creative direction. The Calibre collection, symbolizing “resolute masculinity” for Cartier, was now ready to welcome the two major variants of the sports watch: the chronograph (2013) and the diving watch (2014). To see Cartier launching the first diving watch in its history (42 mm case, unidirectional bezel, water-resistant to 300 m and equipped with the Maison’s 1904 MC caliber) and making a bold entrance to the world of the sports watch is to realize the progress made by the brand in just a few years.
Beyond the significance of this launch for Cartier, this new initiative must also be analyzed in terms of the place occupied by its two main rivals in the world of diving watches. Indeed, of the three giants of Swiss watchmaking—Rolex, Cartier and Omega—only the “king of jewelers” lacked the deep-sea appeal—a sector utterly dominated by Rolex.
With its new Calibre Diver, Cartier has revealed another intention—that of enhancing its essentially feminine, or elegant masculine image—by becoming a brand capable of more virile and masculine forays. This urge to break new ground reveals the importance of the launch for Cartier. Less in terms of sales (the diving watch, even if more commonly seen in cities or on beaches, remains a niche market) than in terms of image. For while Cartier clearly lacks the legitimacy (and makes no claim in that respect) of its rivals in the diving watch world—in which the position of Rolex seems unassailable—the arrival of the Calibre Diver is a powerful sign.
Beyond the marketing strategy, the arrival of the Calibre Diver is also designed to demonstrate two key qualities of the diving watch: reliability and robustness. In fact, while those who actually wear such watches for diving are few and far between, the aim is above all to assert the Maison’s know-how in terms of performance and sturdiness. In the watchmaking world, the diving watch is in fact considered to be the most resistant, so stringent are the constraints imposed on the timepiece. Besides accompanying divers as they head for the depths, the diving watch is designed to assert and demonstrate a number of qualities. For its part, the Calibre Diver satisfied the technical constraints for diving watches laid down by the standard ISO 6425, which set out eight reliability criteria and involve a rigorous battery of tests.
Having sought but not found the powerful and virile watch of their dreams at Cartier in the past, many men may well be tempted by this creation. The deep-sea war has begun.