It was a high-stakes gamble that paid off, when the indomitable watch and jewellery house, Cartier, launched its first collection of Haute Horlogerie last year. Eager to show its watchmaking capability, the manufacture released a range of timepieces that displayed its seriousness about joining the ranks of the watchmaking elite. The collection was well received not only by fans of the brand, but perhaps more notably by those considered to be the Warren Buffets of watch industry, especially when it came to the obvious quality of the products and their price points.
In order to achieve this, the first order of business was to establish a vertically integrated and state-of-the-art manufacturing arm. Cartier has a total of five facilities in Switzerland, but watchmaking is now centralised at the Manufacture Cartier in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Built in 2000, the 33,000sqm facility has more than 1,000 employees, engaged in every aspect of watch production. While many firms continue to subcontract parts and processes for their timepieces, the brand has decided to produce movements and many of its parts in- house, be it for the Astrotourbillons to the more common Santos 100s. This is an edge that not many manufactures have, which effectively leads to better quality control, greater production flexibility and, to us Cartier watch owners, the assurance that all the parts and service needed for the timepieces are readily available.
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