Since Cartier reinvigorated its fine watchmaking department eight years ago, it has surprised us each year with one great complicated watch after another. This year, Cartier limited edition replica watches had a different kind of surprise: a resurrection of the Panthère de Cartier, which had been discontinued in the early aughts. Aside from a new Minute Repeater Mysterious Double Tourbillon (new in the sense that these complications are combined for the first time), the Cartier Panthère De Cartier was the main introduction at SIHH this year, making it clear that ladies’ watches aren’t second tier in marketing strength or sales.
When you look at the state of the watch industry over the past year, the reintroduction of the Panthère De Cartier is not all that surprising. Like the Tank, Santos, and other iconic volume collections, the Cartier Panthère series fake watches arebread-and-butter core collection: a sure thing in an unsteady market. With multiple references and price points, it is exactly what the market seems to call for, again, at the moment.
The Cartier Panthère was originally introduced in 1983, and the relaunch design is exactly the same as the original: square case with screws on the bezel, Roman numerals, railway track index, and a tiny Cartier logo embossed in the X digit – distinguishing it from the counterfeits. Only the bracelet construction is new – it is more supple. All the movements are quartz, which keeps the watch elegantly thin, and true to the original design, which came into being at the height of the quartz era.
The new Panthère de Cartier is a full collection in three sizes with a pavé version, a lacquer and gold version, a yellow gold version – a star of the original collection – and a two-tone model, with prices ranging from $4,000 to $140,000.
The Santos is also an iconic square-cased Cartier replica watches with Roman numerals and visible screws on the bezel, and at least one person I spoke to was confused about its similarity to the Cartier Panthère, so it’s worth showing the Santos here for comparison. The differences are subtle. The size of the bezel and screws are much smaller on the Cartier Panthère than on the Santos, and the lugs are more tapered, as is the crown. And on the Santos, there is no border on the railroad track index. (Although there was a border on the index of the original Santos watch created in 1904).