’13 Rue de la Paix’ Salmon Dial Cartier Tortue Monopoussoir
The Tortue Monopoussoir is easily one of the most desirable collected Cartiers of the CPCP years, with some of the greatest modern names contributing to its THA-ébauche calibre before it was cool to do your own thing. A young FP Journe, Denis Flageollet (now De Bethune), and Vianney Halter all had a hand in constructing this truly impressive monopusher chronograph. Cartier then enveloped their work in classical elegance and the Tortue Monopoussoir became an instant classic. Except this one is quite unlike any you’ve probably seen before. There are 13 of them, white gold case with a salmon guilloché dial, and it’s something of an ultimate boss fight for Cartier collectors.
Famously, the 2396 CPCP Monopoussoir has a solitary Roman numeral 12. But, you’ll notice immediately, this dial has Roman numerals with a technically inaccurate Arabic 13 in place of twelve. WTF? 1999, one year after the CPCP model released, was the 100th anniversary for Cartier’s Paris Boutique. Or perhaps I should say flagship store, which 13 Rue de la Paix certainly became. It was purchased by Alfred Cartier in 1899, and saw an incredible range of events in its walls from remounting the Hope diamond to hosting Grace Kelly. The first Cartier wristwatches ever were made here. And for its 100th, Cartier celebrated quite discreetly.
13 of the Tortue Monopoussoirs were made, with the celebratory 13 in place of 12 for the address. The treatment was given to four Cartier models in total: two Must de Cartier Tanks in small and large sizes (100 examples each), 13 examples of the Cartier Driver, and these 13 Monopoussoirs. The latter is by far the most collected, many went to employees of the boutique. Only five have ever come up for sale, most well before the recent Cartier interest. Phillips, Christies, and Sothebys haven’t seen one. In 2011, Tajan Auctions sold one for 18K USD. Then earlier this year, Artcurial hammered one at 93K USD. Both were huge value buys, as private results have been far higher. It is arguably the ultimate modern Cartier chronograph, though the Tank Monopoussoir comes close. Godspeed, Cartier crew.
As examples go the condition is strong. The case is showing few marks of hard wear, that could be a light polish or it could just have hardly been worn. Can’t see hallmarks very closely, either is a guess at this time. Its dial shows no damage. And the watch comes with its full set via a well-regarded Belgian retailer.