No one does it quite like Cartier. Watches & Wonders tends to feel like some kind of tournament – especially in these opening stages - with the brightest and best of the industry competing for the biggest splash; the obvious standout that gets everyone talking. Early frontrunners include Tudor’s 37mm Black Bay 54, or Patek’s 6007G (available in three colours; indicative of an early trend at the show), and others will emerge over the next few days.

But then you visit the Cartier stand and the competition fades away. Like the Sunday night legend at Glastonbury, the jeweller/watchmaker seems to exist on another plane altogether, offering elegance, quality, artistry and timeless style in abundance.

Take the Tank Normale, the latest inductee to Cartier’s Privé collection, which features limited edition, nuanced riffs on the marque’s existing pieces. First unveiled in 1919, the Tank is undoubtably Cartier’s most famous design, indeed one of watchmaking’s most iconic creations, and the Tank Normale pays homage to the original watch with matching proportions and a bevelled sapphire crystal glass.

The new Privé edition is available in three iterations, and in a range of finishes. There are yellow gold and platinum models, with blue sapphire cabochon and brown alligator strap, and a ruby cabochon winding crown and black alligator strap, respectively. Then there are two skeletonised models – also in yellow gold and platinum – limited to just 50 pieces each. But the standout winners are those on the new bracelet in – you’ve guessed it – yellow gold or platinum. So far, we’re yet to see a more inherently cool watch at the show.

Elsewhere, following on from last year’s Crash, Cartier has extended its mastery of the tiny timepiece with a diamond studded Baignoire. Nothing would look better with the right tuxedo, or even a T-shirt and jeans. But again, it’s not really a competition.

Originally published on Esquire UK