View full screen - View 1 of Lot 93. PENDULE ECRAN AN IMPORTANT AND RARE ROCK CRYSTAL, ONYX, ENAMEL, CORAL, YELLOW GOLD AND DIAMOND-SET MYSTERY DESK TIMEPIECE, CIRCA 1926.
93

Cartier, New York

PENDULE ECRAN AN IMPORTANT AND RARE ROCK CRYSTAL, ONYX, ENAMEL, CORAL, YELLOW GOLD AND DIAMOND-SET MYSTERY DESK TIMEPIECE, CIRCA 1926

Estimate:

100,000

to
- 200,000 USD

Cartier, New York

Cartier, New York

PENDULE ECRAN AN IMPORTANT AND RARE ROCK CRYSTAL, ONYX, ENAMEL, CORAL, YELLOW GOLD AND DIAMOND-SET MYSTERY DESK TIMEPIECE, CIRCA 1926

PENDULE ECRAN AN IMPORTANT AND RARE ROCK CRYSTAL, ONYX, ENAMEL, CORAL, YELLOW GOLD AND DIAMOND-SET MYSTERY DESK TIMEPIECE, CIRCA 1926

Estimate:

100,000

to
- 200,000 USD

Lot sold:

564,500

USD

Cartier, New York


PENDULE ECRAN

AN IMPORTANT AND RARE ROCK CRYSTAL, ONYX, ENAMEL, CORAL, YELLOW GOLD AND DIAMOND-SET MYSTERY DESK TIMEPIECE, CIRCA 1926


Dial: rock crystal, platinum and black enamel hands set with rose-cut diamonds

Caliber: gilt lever movement housed within the base signed E.W.& C. Co., Inc. France, 13 jewels

Movement number: 13

Case: rock crystal panel, yellow gold and white enamel chapter ring bordered by rose-cut diamonds, rose-cut diamond spandrels, all framed within a black enamel border enhanced with bands of baton coral in gold channel settings repeated along the case bands, and above and below the dial, all set upon an onyx base accented by black enamel arches and a central sphere

Case number: 66'548, 91'278, 40'646, No.999

Size: approximately 14 cm x 10.5 cm x 6.5 cm 

Signed: case, dial and movement

Accessories:Cartier fitted presentation box 

For assistance with the present lot, please contact our Specialist, Janet Tham for further assistance at Janet.Tham@sothebys.com.


The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The online condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance purposes only. The images of the lot also form part of the online condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Any reference to condition in the online condition report does not amount to a full description of condition. The online condition report may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the online condition report of the lot or shown in the online images of the lot (for example, the online condition report may not specify mechanical replacements or imperfections to the movement, case, dial, pendulum, separate base(s) or dome). Watches in water-resistant cases have been opened to examine movements but no warranties are made that the watches are currently water-resistant. The online condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation but rather the online condition report is a statement of subjective, qualified opinion (for example, information regarding colour, clarity and weight of gemstones are statements of opinion only and not statements of fact). Please also note that we do not guarantee the authenticity of any individual component parts, such as wheels, hands, crowns, crystals, screws, bracelets and wrist bands, since subsequent repairs and restoration work may have resulted in the replacement of original parts. In addition, certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot (for example, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades). For these reasons, the online condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. Prospective buyers should also refer to the Buying at Auction guide which includes important notices concerning the type of property in this sale. In particular, please note it is the purchaser's responsibility to comply with any applicable import and export matters, particularly in relation to lots incorporating materials from endangered species. Please be advised that wristbands made of materials derived from endangered or otherwise protected species (i.e. alligator and crocodile) are not sold with the watches and are for display purposes only. We reserve the right to remove these bands prior to shipping. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

The Cartier rectangular Ecran Mystery clock first appeared in 1923 and was produced in several variants through 1928. Research previously indicated that less than ten Ecran models exist, making the present lot an extraordinarily rare and delightful discovery. 


From 1919 to 1936, Cartier created some of the world's most beguiling clocks. The period marked a heightened interest in exotic motifs from the East, and Cartier married this Asian influence effortlessly with the West's strong Art Deco style. The characteristic vertical form of these Ecran clocks are expertly tailored and likely inspired by early 19th century oriental room dividers and fire screens.  Indeed, when Cartier participated in the 1929 Paris Exhibition, such pieces promised 'the incarnation of an impalpable dream of the Orient.' (Barracca et al. pp. 81-2, 180.)


The first Mystery clocks were 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 name resonates with automotive pioneer Henry Ford's "Model T" car of the same period and, fittingly, the first Model A was sold at Cartier New York to American financial magnate, J.P. Morgan Jr.


The mystery is in the hands that appear to float in space without any connection to the movement, when, in fact, they are each fixed onto a separate crystal disc. These discs are each surrounded by a tooth-edged border and driven by a fixed vertical mechanism invisibly concealed within the frame. The mechanism is activated by the movement hidden in the base.


Coral-set Ecran models to have appeared in public auction since the 1990's: 


Sotheby's New York, April 2003, Lot 325

Sotheby's Geneva, May 2006, Lot 367

Sotheby's Geneva, November 2017, Lot 315

Christie's Geneva, May 1992, Lot 744

Christie's London, October 1994, Lot 175

Christie's New York, May 1995, Lot 317


For similar examples, please see: 

Hans Nadelhoffer, Cartier, London, 2007, pgs. 280-285 for a discussion of Cartier Mystery clocks and for other examples of timepieces from the 1920s


Jader Barracca, Giampiero Negretti and Franco Nencini, Le Temps de Cartier, Wrist International, Milan 1989, p. 177

Franco Cologni and Ettore Mocchetti, L'Objet Cartier. 150 Ans de Tradition et d'Innovation, Paris, 1992, pgs. 91, 95, 126-127, for other examples of Asian influenced Art Deco timepieces 


New Orleans Museum of Art, Reflections of Elegance, Cartier Jewels from the Lindemann Collection, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1988, pgs. 168-169