Review: Cartier Drive watch

By David Flynn, October 31 2016
Review: Cartier Drive watch

Cartier is a brand perhaps better known for jewellery than horology, and certainly more aligned to the tastes of the fairer sex.

But the luxury French maison crafted its first men’s watch in 1904 when founder Louis Cartier designed an aviator’s watch for his friend, Brazilian flyer Alberto Santos Dumont.

Over 110 years later, Cartier has reached back to the era of the vintage automobile to create the decidedly masculine Drive – or Drive de Cartier, to bestow upon this beauty its proper name. 

The story

Upon its debut at the 2016 SIHH Geneva watchfest, the Cartier Drive proved a show-stopper.

A true gentleman’s watch in every sense of the word, the Drive’s name conceals a double meaning.

There’s no mistaking the classic automotive influence at play here, but Cartier says the Drive is also about that ‘inner drive’ to succeed – a luxury mechanical watch for those who won’t settle for puttering along in life’s slow lane. 

The style

Never one to rely on conventional watch shapes, Cartier has adopted the increasingly in-vogue ‘cushion’ for the Drive.

This ‘rounded square’ frames the Drive in modern European elegance and definitely ensures it stands out from the crowd.

The 40mm case wears smaller than you may think from the photos, however: it’s a mid-ground size to suit almost all wrists, and at 11.25mm in profile doesn’t stand too proud.

Subtle nods to the Drive’s automobile aesthetic include the textured guilloché pattern on the dial (available in white or black) which references old radiator grills, and the bolt-shaped crown.

Roman numerals around the dial, an inner ‘railroad track’ of hour and minute markers,  a small seconds sub-dial and sword-shaped hands in blued steel all provide classical notes.

The Drive is, ahem, driven by an in-house Cartier movement visible through the watch’s case-back.

Stylish and refined, this is a truly beautiful piece watch which can transition from the weekday business suit to Saturday night’s formal dinner to Sunday morning’s casual brunch. 

If you’ve never really considered at a Cartier watch before, the Drive will make you look twice.

The details

  • 40mm case
  • 48 hour power reserve
  • Water resistant to 30 metres
  • Drive de Cartier in steel case with black or white dial and leather strap: $8,750 

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.