Crystal Magic: Cartier Presents the Astrotourbillon Carbon Crystal

In the male-dominated, testosterone-fueled world of watches and watchmaking, it’s easy to think that the imagination and drive to innovate must be an exclusively male domain, But one of the most creative and fertile minds in the watchmaking world belongs to Carole Forestier, who currently plies her trade as the mastermind behind the development of new movements and watches for Cartier.

In tandem with developing new watches for its Fine Watchmaking Collection, Cartier and Carole Forestier have also pursued innovations in materials and basic watch design which yielded, in 2009, the remarkable concept watch known as ID One. ID One was designed to be the first mechanical watch in the world to need no adjustment for accuracy–either at initial assembly or during actual operation–by a watchmaker. To achieve this, it employed new materials, including a form of synthetic diamond dubbed Carbon Crystal, and a hairspring made of an exotic glass/ceramic composite called Zerodur.

It’s an eerily beautiful watch to boot, but there’s just one catch: it is not for sale, to anyone, at any price, as it was made purely as a proof-of-concept technology platform—a concept watch, in other words.  (Cartier has turned down attempts to buy it by determined collectors, including one who reportedly made a seven figure offer that Cartier respectfully declined.)

Frustrated connoisseurs wishing to partake of both the cool, brave-new-world beauty of ID One’s materials, as well as its benefits, rejoice: Cartier has just announced its latest and greatest new watch in the Fine Watchmaking Collection. That watch is the Astrotourbillon Carbon Crystal. The first watch to take advantage of some of ID One’s innovations, the Astrotourbillon Carbon Crystal begins with the already revolutionary Forestier-designed Astrotourbillon, in which the tourbillon carriage, which rotates once per minute, has its axis of rotation at the center of the watch, and is visible as the seconds hand of the watch.