WATCH REVIEW : CARTIER CALIBRE 1904-PS MC

September 8, 2016 by  
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They are also an investment, a finely crafted piece of bejeweled artwork to pass along to future generations. But most of all, they are pure functionality taken to the extreme, precision time-keepers tuned to split-second accuracy..

There are two notable firsts for Cartier here: this is the first watch caliber in the company’s history designed specifically for the men’s “sports” market, and it’s the first equipped with an automatic mechanical movement crafted entirely in-house at its La Chaux-de-Fonds workshop in Switzerland.

Cartier’s 1904-PS MC mechanical movement is an automatic mechanism — the watch is wound by kinetic energy, and the swing of your arm as you walk is enough to keep it ticking. But it’s particularly intricate and unique when compared to other automatic movements, and the technological standouts are numerous. It uses double barrels (most automatic watches traditionally have one), and this gives it a highly constant chronometry throughout the duration of the watch’s 48-hour power reserve. This means the watch will display time accurately and consistently for two days after you take it off your wrist, even though at that point it’s no longer getting wound by the movement of your arm. The Calibre also has a bi-directional winding system in place rather than a more conventional one-way winding of the gears. The rotor’s motion is smoothed by ceramic ball bearings instead of oil. This protects it from shock and makes trips to the repair shop less frequent. (This extra shock resistance must be where the “sports” angle comes in.)

Obviously, the accuracy and potential longevity of the inner mechanics should be the ultimate consideration as to whether or not a watch is worth the money. But let’s face it — at this price point, the thing should also look damn good.

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Our test watch’s stainless steel band came with enough links for a rich gorilla, but you can obviously remove the links to fit smaller wrists. Ours had a black dial, but it also comes in white, and there’s a lower-priced version with a leather band as well as some much-higher-priced models in various gold settings.