Style / April 2017

Night Out: Cartier's Drive Extra Flat

George Cramer goes hands on with the most talked about watch from Cartier at SIHH 2017: The Drive de Cartier Extra Flat.

It must have been around December, when I heard the rumor that Cartier was going to present a new Drive de Cartier, without a date window. I was a bit puzzled at first. I could not understand how just leaving out the date window would warrant calling a watch new compared to the base version of the Drive that was announced just over a year ago now.

Since the announcement, the date window, placed at 3 o’clock on the watch’s dial, has been a point of much discussion. Such complications, especially the cut-out version of the date window, are more often than not a love or hate affair among collectors.

Much to my surprise the new — and fourth — model in the Drive collection turned out to be a complete turnaround. Besides the lines of the cushion-shaped case and the large blued baton hands, all other aspects that made the Drive, the Drive have now been eliminated; replaced instead with a cool and vastly minimalistic design.

Let me set this straight from the start: this new watch should not be seen as an upgrade or as a refreshed version. It is, in fact, the dress version of the Drive series and a proper new addition to the collection, which now contains five different models as of this year.

The original Drive de Cartier models, at least the time only and the one with a small complication, are intended to be sporty watches and were created to handle any occasion. Fairly new for Cartier was the sexy looking domed crystal that gave the watches an almost vintage kinda look. Both these models were equipped with Cartier’s own automatic calibers: the 1904-PS MC and the 1904-FU MC. These were based on the automatic 1904MC, which was Cartier’s first Manufacture automatic caliber.

For the Extra Flat version, Cartier’s teams in Geneva and La Chaud-de-Fonds had to start almost from scratch. The idea for a new addition was a smaller, dressier timepiece; a stylish watch that had to have a lot of Cartier DNA without losing the identity of the Drive collection. Not an easy task when you think about it. In order to meet the brief, the team had to start first with the inevitability of a fresh new case design.

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George Cramer