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The Cartier Tonneau is one of the earliest wristwatches designed by Cartier, having come only two years after the introduction of the Santos-Dumont watch. Succeeding the famous square pilot’s watch, the Tonneau again challenged the traditional concept of round pocket watches with its barrel-shaped design.
The Tonneau, named after the French word for “barrel”, also served as a precursor for the barrel-shaped, Art Deco-style timepieces that were in vogue from the 1920s to the 1940s. Cartier showed off their mastery of shapes with its blend of curves, and long, slender silhouette.
Exclusively made in precious metals, and elegantly following the curvature of the wrist, the Cartier Tonneau is a dandy connoisseur’s timepiece. Explore our collection of Cartier Tonneau watches at SwissWatchExpo.com.
The first Cartier Tonneau watch was introduced in 1906, making it one of the earliest wristwatches available for men. It came only two years after the Louis Cartier-designed Santos-Dumont watch, which is widely credited as the first men’s wristwatch.
The collection is distinguished by its barrel-shaped case (tonneau is after all, the French word for barrel), a distinctive, curved style that remains in use among watches today. It is often confused with another Cartier watch, the Tortue, introduced in 1912. While the Tortue (from the French word for tortoise) also has a curvy design, it has a shorter and thicker case, resulting in a more casual appearance than the longer and more slender Tortue.
The elegant Tonneau, shaped like a parentheses, and curved to the contours of the wrist, became a popular accessory among high society. Its flinqué dial, Roman numerals, and the sapphire cabochon set on the winding crown are forerunners of signature Cartier design elements.
In the eighties and nineties, the Tonneau was introduced in a smaller size for women, and with options of diamonds on the bezel.
By 2006, the Tonneau celebrated its 100th birthday, and it became part of the Collection Privée Cartier Paris collection, which revived Cartier’s most historical models. It was awarded by a larger XL model, geared towards men; and like previous editions, it was only available in gold and platinum. While the collection was largely time-only, there were also dual time zone models in white gold.
Like the rest of the CPCP collection, these pieces were limited edition only. They bear the silvered guilloche rose motif dial and “Paris” inscription on the dials, and were powered by Frederic Piguet movements.
The Cartier Tonneau would once again be revived at the 2019 SIHH fair, to much media fanfare. Collectors were quite excited to see how Cartier revitalized the more than century-old collection. It was introduced as the Privé Tonneau, signaling the start of historically-inspired designs.
The updated collection was comprised of two time-only models, and two dual-time models, each made in 18k rose gold and platinum. While the newer models still had the curvature of the original Tonneau, Cartier updated its proportions and design to suit modern standards. The cases, measuring 46 x 23mm for the time-only models, and 52 x 29mm for the dual-time models, are larger than the older designs and also featured curved case backs. Vis armurier or gunsmith style lugs were added, as well as the modernized Cartier cabochon crown style – the traditional blue sapphire on the rose gold model, and a red gem on the platinum model.
The dial was the most noticeable update on the 2019 Tonneau. Instead of the opaline or silvered dials seen on older models, the newer styles feature grey or champagne-colored sunburst style dials. Powering the modern Tonneau watches are the manual winding Caliber 1917 MC, which offers a 38-hour power reserve (for time-only) and Caliber 9919 MC skeleton movement (for dual-time).
Effortlessly comfortable yet elegant, and stunning in its combination of curves and straight lines, the Cartier Tonneau watch is the epitome of refined taste.
The Cartier Tonneau watch, first introduced in 1906, was revived by the brand in 2019 at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). Only a small collection of four watches was offered, in time-only and dual time, and in 18k rose gold and platinum, with the platinum models limited to just 100 pieces per reference.
Cartier Tonneau Large Hand Wound
The time-only edition of the 2019 Cartier Tonneau were crafted in Large Models measuring 46.1mm x 26.2mm, and 8.8mm thin. Two dial colors were offered – silvery grey for the platinum model, and a very light champagne for the rose gold model, in sunburst finishes. The Roman numeral markers are applied instead of painted, and Cartier also chose blued steel Breguet style hands instead of the often featured sword-shaped hands. These models are powered by the hand-wound manufacture movement Calibre 1917 MC, which offers 38 hours of power reserve.
The rose gold model is standard production, while the platinum model is limited to 100 pieces.
Cartier Tonneau Extra Large Skeleton Dual Time
The second watch Cartier introduced as part of the 2019 Tonneau revival is a modern take on the Daum-Time model they introduced in 2006. However, instead of two displays and dual-movements, it displays two timezones using a single movement, and on a skeletonized dial.
In order to achieve this, the Calibre 9919 MC movement was made to curve to fit the profile of the Tonneau watch. Moreover, Cartier designed the movement such that gear trains were aligned at 6 and 12 o’clock.
Two editions of the Cartier Tonneau Extra Large Skeleton Dual Time were introduced, in rose gold and platinum, both limited to 100 pieces.
Every Cartier watch design is given a reference number, to help the manufacture and clients properly document their production and sale. Modern Cartier watches have reference numbers that are randomly assigned and composed of 8 characters. They begin with a letter, followed by an alpha-numeric combination.
Below are the reference numbers for the Cartier Tonneau collection:
|W1555451||Cartier Tonneau||18K White Gold|
|W1555551||Cartier Tonneau||18K Rose Gold|
|WE400131||Cartier Tonneau||18K White Gold|
|WE400251||Cartier Tonneau||18K White Gold|
|WE400331||Cartier Tonneau||18K Rose Gold|
|WE400451||Cartier Tonneau||18K Rose Gold|
|WE400731||Cartier Tonneau||18K White Gold|
|WE400831||Cartier Tonneau||18K White Gold|
|WGTN0006||Cartier Tonneau (2019)||18K Rose Gold|
|WGTN0005||Cartier Tonneau (2019)||Platinum|
|WHTN0005||Cartier Tonneau (2019)||18K Rose Gold|
|WHTN0006||Cartier Tonneau (2019)||Platinum|
The Cartier Tonneau embodies the French maison’s mastery of shapes with its blend of curves and angles, and Art Deco aesthetic. Here are the most commonly asked questions about the Cartier Tonneau.
The Cartier Tonneau is one of the earliest watch designs of the French jeweler and watchmaker. It was introduced in 1906, just two years after they launched the Santos-Dumont, which is largely credited as the first men’s wristwatch.
The Cartier Tonneau (with tonneau being French for barrel) is shaped like parentheses and is slender and elongated. Its refined design makes it suitable for dressier occasions.
Modern Cartier Tonneau watches (manufactured from 2006 onwards) have a water resistance level of 3 bar or 30 meters. With this level of water resistance, the watch can safely be worn with minimal exposure to water, such as during light rain or hand washing. The Cartier Tonneau is primarily a dress watch, and it is not recommended for use during water sports or swimming.
The Cartier Tonneau has been discontinued, except for the Large model in 18k Rose Gold, which remains on the Cartier website.
However, Cartier Tonneau models can still be purchased from reliable pre-owned watch retailers. Explore our selection of Cartier Tonneau watches here.