Vintage timepieces

Alain Cartier buys and sells vintage timepieces which correspond to a style from a historical period in the decorative arts of the 20th century. I concentrate in French-made objets, mostly signed by creators such as Cartier or by the retail shop who sold the item.

The jewellers made timepieces with many functions. More personal functions include pocket watches, clip watches and purse watches as well as small travelling watches. Bigger and thus offering a larger decorative area, clocks were made to go on chimneys, on consoles, buffets, tables, bedside tables and desks, as well as for travelling.

Clocks could be two-dimensional using a folding strut to stay upright, or could be three-dimensional resting on a base.

Clocks are practically the only precious ‘objet’ which span the entire time period covered by this dealer. The style of these clocks evolved from the néo-Louis XVI of the first decade of the 20th century, to the guilloché enamel inspired by Fabergé which lasted until the end of World War I, the richly decorated Art Deco of the 1920s, the geometrically rigorous Modern Style of the 1930s, and the more sober post Work War II period which coincided with the naturalism of the 1950s and 1960s.

Designers for clockmakers had much creativity when designing the cases, as well as the dials for the more precious models.

Cartier was not only a jeweller but, like Fabergé, had started around 1900 an important horological department including vintage timepieces like wristwatches, pocket watches and table clocks. The most famous clocks made by Cartier are the mystery clocks. The Verger workshop also made three or four mystery clocks for Black, Starr and Frost in the USA, and one for Van Cleef and Arpels. Cartier was quite inventive with semimysterious models – the comet and planet clocks -, gravity models, magnetised water clocks, retrograde hour and clocks, rotating hour hand clocks, and prism cloks.
Materials used could be taken from ancient oriental civilisations like antique Chinese steatite seals, 19th century Chinese mother of pearl laque burgauté, or jade and agate artefacts, or carved from hard stones – jade, nephrite, onyx, rock crystal, lapis lazuli, agate, rose quartz, aventurine, pyrite, mother of pearl marquetry, coral, and kingfisher feathers on dials.
Enamel, rose-cut diamonds and precious stones were applied on the hands and elsewhere on the case.

In the 30s, Cartier’s adaptation of the ‘Moderne Style’ included lacquer and mirrored glass for many models.

Artist Vladmir Makowsky meticulously created a scenery for certain precious dials in the oriental taste applying semi-precious stones as a marquetry on a mother of pearl background.

If you are looking for collector’s items, in the Alain Cartier online catalog, you will also find smoking accessories and vintage desk accessories. If you have any enquiries, please feel free to contact me.