Mini Baignoire WatchBy Cartier
It may be the epitome of elegance, but the Mini Baignoire watch is actually named for the most quotidian of objects: a bathtub. That is what the original timepiece looked like in 1912, when Louis Cartier, grandson of Cartier founder Louis-François, had the idea of stretching a circular watch face into an elliptical shape.
It was Louis who was responsible for bringing watchmaking to the venerable maison, when he presented Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont with a wristwatch in 1904. Approaching watchmaking with a jeweler’s eye, his pursuit of beauty went beyond ornamentation; instead he considered the size, shape and harmony of the design. Cartier had a penchant for shapes other than the conventional circle, and although the Baignoire wouldn’t officially get its name until the 1950s, its origins are in Louis’s experiments of the early 1900s: He created tonneau (or barrel-shaped) watches in 1906, square-faced watches in 1908 and, in 1912, a slender oval-shaped watch, reportedly designed for Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna “Miechen” of Russia, a great customer of the house.
The bathtub-inspired design was revisited in the 1950s, and a refined version of the original, finally called the Baignoire, became available in 1958. Gorgeous movie stars such as Catherine Deneuve, photographed at 1965’s Cannes Film Festival donning her favorite Baignoire, warmed immediately to the ellipsis-shaped watch’s celebrated pair of parallel lines and graceful adjoining curves. The Mini Baignoire, a smaller profile version that retains the house’s characteristic blue-steel sword-shaped hands, sleek Roman numerals and more, was first introduced as a full diamond pavé model in the 1990s. Still available at Cartier, the Mini Baignoire watch embodies the elegance of its grand origins, a graceful timekeeper for a modern age.
Cartier Mini Baignoire Watch
2010s Wrist Watches
18k Gold, White Gold