At SIHH 2016, Cartier unveiled the Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Astromystérieux replica watch, and it more than piqued my interest.
Now anyone familiar with Cartier will know that the “mystery” technique has actually been utilized by the brand for more than a century, with the first mysterious timepiece produced as a collaboration with clockmaker Maurice Couet in 1912.
The Astromystérieux is, as the name might suggest, a mysterious watch, meaning that the hands are seemingly not connected to tanything. But with this model, (almost) the entire movement is seemingly not connected to the surrounding watch and instead floats delicately in the transparent dial opening. The “astro” part of the name comes from Cartier Astrotourbillon copy watches, which is the mechanical delicacy we see here.
What is even more interesting is that Robert-Houdin was a second-generation watchmaker, who was an expert in automata and developed his own writing and drawing figure in the same vein as the Jaquet Droz android that goes by the name .
But I digress. Maurice Couet was inspired by the mystery clocks Robert-Houdin built, even while he created amazing mechanical and magical illusions in the mid-nineteenth century.
Couet himself was inspired by – guess what? – a legendary magician and illusionist named Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin.
Jump forward to the present day and you will find that the mystery timepiece is alive and well in half a dozen different models at the Richemont Group-owned brand.
Couet produced a “modern” take on the design for Cartier copy watch, and the Mystery Clock became a perpetual favorite for the brand.