Cartier Privé Cloche

Some watches just make sense. The 1016 Explorer, that’s a design that makes sense. The Speedmaster too, seems like someone thought about it. Even the Lange 1, in all its artfulness, was made according to ratios and math . . .as if the Germans could do anything else. Other watches, however, don’t. The Cloche is not a logical conclusion, but pure whimsy. It’s Jackson Pollock throwing things at a wall to see what sticks, it’s a blob of watch like a Rothko is a blob of color.


French for bell, the Cloche was first a worn brooch, introduced in 1921. That design evolved into a few tiny numbers of wrist-worn watches shortly thereafter where the dial was rotated in order to make the 12 collinear with the crown. This allowed its wearer to more easily distinguish the time at a glance.

Why should a watch be designed around a pin? Why should anything exist? You get the feeling by looking at a cloche that, actually, it may be art. Precisely because it has little purpose to motivate it. Of all Privé designs, the Cloche is easily the most divisive; it splits opinion more than the borders of the West Bank, only more heated. But maybe all great art is not so easily digested?


This most recent iteration hails from 2021, where the Privé collection again touched on the design. It came in platinum, yellow, and pink gold, each limited to 100 examples. Its case at 37x28mm is larger than the 1995 or 2007 run. One detail I just adore, the platinum case is highly polished . . .except for the side opposite twelve. That’s just so slightly brushed, in case you want to place it in front of you as a desk clock. So perhaps we’ve all been looking at the Cloche incorrectly this entire time, because as a tiny desk clock it actually makes a ton of sense.

This example has been lightly worn, no marks visible on the case to my eye. Again, it’s said to be unworn with a picture of someone wearing it. I’m a broken record at this point. But it comes with a full set from some good folks in London.

Find this Privé Cloche here from Watches London for 42500 GBP.