THE exhibition Cartier in Motion, curated by Lord Norman Foster is on display at the Design Musuem, London until July. The exhibition explores the wide-ranging creativity of Cartier and design and includes over 170 exhibits and since it opened in May has been very well received and has been hailed as a must-see show.
Glass speaks with Carole Forestier-Kasapi, the Director of Movement Creation at Cartier.
Watchmaking is a very male-dominated world – what drew you to movement making?
I was born into a family of watchmakers in Paris; my father, my mother, and my brother are watchmakers. I spent a lot of time after school in the family workshop; this is how I became interested in watch mechanics. This has become a passion that has never left me. I started to disassemble old mechanisms at the age of ten to understand how they worked. I was especially interested in understanding how each different function works. I became more and more passionate about movements.
I remember when I was 15 years old and all my friends were fans of Michael Jackson, I was a fan of Breguet, Lepine, and other great watchmakers. When I decided to start watchmaking studies, my parents sent me to Switzerland. After Watchmaking School, I didn’t move back to Paris and started to work in Switzerland to live my passion.
What are the most important qualities that a watch must possess?
We can consider two sides, which are aesthetic and technical. For aesthetic, it’s of course a question of taste, and we can also consider that a luxury watch is timeless in terms of style and elegance. For technical, we focus on reliability and durability, which are the most important perception for clients.
What differentiates a Cartier watch from other watch houses?
Cartier is excellence of craftsmanship taken to the extreme, with the most precious materials, techniques and mechanisms. This requires the most expensive artistic values known to humankind. Time measurement features in all cultures throughout all eras. They have always had highly symbolic values, reserved for the elite, very rare and expensive. They express timelessness and sustainability.
At Cartier, we all have a strong awareness of the artistic and ethical dimension. Cartier is bold, not only in creation but also in the way we have to develop ourselves. I also insist on universality and openness to world cultures. All this is related to our expansion in the early 19th century.
The Cartier brothers travelled everywhere and are influenced by many things. They created a lot of objects with a fundamental understanding of symbols, materials and colours respecting the representation of each of them. Through Cartier, many civilizations are expressed in art history. It is this depth of creation that we are continuing to look for today.
What is your favourite part of building a watch and why?
I’m passionate about watches and in this state of mind I’m confident that I can achieve the impossible. This is why I always think about doing better, going further, improving all the mechanisms. I’m passionate about searching for new solutions and resolving old watchmaking problems.
Which is your favourite Cartier watch and why?
I would firstly choose the Astrotourbillon Carbon crystal. The Astrotourbillon has the huge ability to bring everyone together, firstly because this creation is the emblematic complication of watchmakers: the tourbillon. The tourbillon turns around its central axis, and is, in fact, an extremely spectacular piece that will bring together a non-connoisseur public. On the other hand, the connoisseurs will enjoy the technical challenge that lies behind this spectacular complication.
There is also another element in this piece which is the first commercial industrialisation of technology derived from our concept watch ID One, a development in collaboration with R&D (Research and Development) and the movement development department. The original brief received for the Astrotourbillon project was, “Carole, please reinvent the tourbillon”.
I was lucky to be free to propose what I want. It’s a unique opportunity to be part of such a well-established Maison and to have total freedom of creativity.
Do you have an heirloom watch in your family, and if so what is it?
My parents gave me a 17th century pendant watch with a beautiful enamelled miniature painting for my 18th birthday.
What is it about watches that keeps you fascinated by them?
I would say two major things. The first one is that watchmaking is at the service of measuring the only universal thing that exists, which is time. Time is a universal element on earth, we are all measuring time with seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years … and behind time we are all equal, rich or poor, time is the same for everybody. It’s a universal value. Secondly, even the watchmaking world has been working for several centuries on the evolution of time measurement; we are still today continuing to improve mechanisms, which makes watchmaking captivating.
by Sara Hesikova
Cartier in Motion is on at the Design Museum, London until July 28, 2017