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Cartier is no stranger to creating animal-inspired designs – its most famous symbol, after all, is the Panther. Aside from the famous feline design, its jewelry archives have numerous odes to reptiles, birds, and graceful animals such as zebras and giraffes. One such design is the Cartier La Dona watch, whose trapezoidal case and sinuous links pay homage to Mexican actress María Félix and her love of exotic pets.
One of the most famous Mexican stars of her time, María Félix (who lived from 1914 to 2002), or La Doña as she was called, had a larger than life presence both on screen and in real life. Aside from starring in 47 movies, she became a representation of the tough, modern woman, who challenged societal norms.
María was also a huge fan of Cartier. Among her Cartier jewelry, the most famous were two realistic reptile-shaped pieces: the Snake Necklace and the Crocodile Necklace.
María commissioned the Snake Necklace in 1968, which was 22 inches long had the dimensions of a live snake. The piece is formed by articulations in platinum and white gold, each filled with a total of 2,473 brilliant-cut and baguette diamonds to form the “scales”, and a pair of pear-shaped emeralds for the eyes. In 1975, she again commissioned Cartier for the Crocodile necklace, which features a pair of crocodiles intertwined – one paved with 1,060 emeralds and the other paved in 1,023 brilliant-cut yellow diamonds. Both pieces are now in the possession of Cartier.
When María passed in 2006, Cartier paid tribute to their relationship by designing the La Dona watch. Unlike María’s ornate and life-like jewelry pieces, the La Dona watch is a subtle homage to her eccentric taste and love of exotic pets. The watch case is trapezoidal, fashioned after a crocodile head; while the bracelet is formed by chunky, intertwined half-moon links that mimic the scales of the reptile.
The La Dona watch was crafted in yellow gold, rose gold, and white gold editions; some with diamonds surrounding the bezel. Along with the shapely metal bracelet, the La Dona was also offered with colorful leather straps. Balancing off the bold design is a classic Cartier dial with painted Roman numerals and blue sword-shaped hands, and the brand’s signature sapphire cabochon on the crown.
With a bold yet elegant design, and a fascinating tale behind it, the Cartier La Dona is a show-stopping piece of Cartier history.
The Cartier La Dona watch is a uniquely-shaped timepiece that pays homage to one of Cartier’s most iconic and faithful clients. Here are the most frequently asked questions about the Cartier La Dona.
The Cartier La Dona is a watch introduced in 2006, as a tribute to Mexican movie star and loyal Cartier client, María Félix. Aside from her work in film, María is also known for her bold fashion sense and eccentric taste. She commissioned many Cartier jewelry pieces in her lifetime, the most famous and intricate of which are the reptile-inspired ones.
The La Dona watch’s design is inspired by her favorite exotic animal, the crocodile, with its trapezoidal case that calls to mind a crocodile head, and link bracelet that mimics the reptile’s scales.
The Cartier La Dona is water resistant to 30 meters or 100 feet. This level of water resistance protects it from splashes, particularly from handwashing or exposure to rain.
It is important to note that a watch’s water resistance is not permanent. It can be reduced by the aging of gaskets and wear on gears and parts. Cartier recommends that their watches be sent for maintenance every two to three years to maintain their water resistance and performance.
The Cartier La Dona watch was produced from 2006 until the early 2010s. Models can still be sourced from the secondary market. Explore our selection of Cartier La Dona watches here.