The world of Cartier has a range of timepiece levels. This includes the brand’s “Classics,” which represent their more mainstream watches with relatively simple movements, the “Fine Watchmaking” arena of much higher-end complications and haute horology, and finally, the middle area of “Small Complications.” This is “small,” as opposed to “grand,” in the arena of timepieces, where the latter refers to what is much more complex and, of course, expensive. What we can find in the Cartier Rotonde Small Complication watches might be considerable value, especially with the new Rotonde de Cartier watches in steel.
Not all of these models seen here are brand new, but as we understand it, the steel models are. What you see are two types of Cartier Rotonde Small Complication watch models, with either a date and power reserve indicator, or the more favored big date, dual time, day/night indicator with subsidiary seconds models. So let’s focus on that latter line of models which is formally called the Rotonde de Cartier 2 Time Zones Retrograde, Day & Night, Large Date, Small Second – classy title, I know.
In a 42mm wide case available in 18k white gold (with blue dial), 18k pink gold (with white dial), or in steel (with white dial), the Rotonde de Cartier 2 Times Zones Retrograde, Day & Night, Large Date, Small Second watch is a prime example of a Cartier Small Complication model, as it offers information in addition to the time in an interesting way that blends complexity with refinement.
The asymmetric dial has a retrograde second time zone indicator that, at first glance, looks an awful lot like a power reserve indicator. Look closely, and you’ll realize it is an hour hand with twelve indicators. Diagonally from it is a day/night indicator that I presume works with the second time zone to indicate AM or PM times. Also on the dial is a subsidiary seconds dial and a big date indicator. The layout is interesting and appears balanced, but it feels as though the second time zone is harder to read than it could be.
In 18k pink gold or steel, the Two Time Zones watch has a legible iconic Cartier dial with Roman numeral hour markers and blued steel hands. The 18k white gold model has a very attractive blue dial, but I am concerned that in reality it will be difficult to read, with the polished steel hands (that should be a bit longer, as well).
The other Cartier Rotonde Small Complication model is the Rotonde de Cartier Power Reserve – Aperture Calendar watch. This model set comes in a smaller 40mm-wide case, also available in 18k white gold, 18k pink gold, and steel. These Cartier Rotonde Small Complication watches have more asymmetrical dials with a power reserve indicator as well as an “open” date window. I think Cartier might have been better off just including a big date rather than an expanded “aperture calendar” date window. The overall design is very attractive, but watch lovers tend to disagree on the attractiveness of such open date window styles.
While the Cartier Rotonde Power Reserve with Aperture Date watch might be a bit more mainstream, I think the modest premium for the more complicated “Small Complication” Rotonde 2 Time Zone Retrograde, Day & Night, Large Date, Small Second watch is worth it for the extra character and functionality. I further believe that these contain base Swiss automatic mechanical movements with modules for the complications.