MAGNIFICENT CLOCKS FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION
The Cartier "Pendule Mystérieuses" or "Mystery Clock" exudes a mystic elegance that has captured the imagination of Cartier collectors for decades. Inspired by the work of the 1850s French magician and clockmaker, Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, Maurice Couet devised the first Mystery Clock in 1913 which was named "Pendules Mysterieuses Model A."
This mechanically and aesthetically remarkable design was the basis for some of Cartier's most impressive clocks of the 1920s and beyond. The time appears to float, indicated by two rotating crystal disks that suspend the hour hand and minute hand in a captivating dance. From the perspective of the viewer, the clock operates without mechanical means, hence its description as a Mystery clock.
Undoubtedly, these fascinating clocks demand an inquisitive mind-set, determined to decode their complexity while appreciating their perplexing beauty. These magical objects “depended on a secret which was supposed to never be revealed.”1 Often times, Cartier’s own retail staff were discouraged from knowing in-detail the mechanical intricacies of the famed Maison’s Mystery Clock creations. They accepted that “the wonder of these clocks guarded their secret like the Sphinx, and [Cartier] protected them from the eyes of prying admirers.”
Following the legendary creations from the 1920s, Cartier revisited the Mystery clock theme in the 1980s, creating modern masterpieces based on the earlier models. The magical wonder of Cartier Mystery Clocks prevails today with the present lot and the following two examples, 'The Grand Mogul Pavillion Mystery Clock' (Lot 2529) and 'The Egyptian Temple Panther Portico Mystery Clock' (Lot 2530).
1Nadelhoffer, H., Cartier, pp. 276
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