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Cartier Paris “Ligne S” Art Moderne Mirror and Enamel Clock, circa 1930



A desk clock composed of a circular mother-of-pearl dial with black enamel Roman numerals set into a rose mirrored rectangular case with black enamel frame, the corners decorated with mother of pearl and coral beads, on a rock crystal and enamel plinth, signed Cartier on the face, S1638 The 1920s and 1930s were a time of great technological advancement. The fascination with new machines was reflected in the bold streamlined shapes of the late Art Deco period, known as Art Moderne. Coming off the curves and elaborate foliate decoration of previous decades, the straight lines of modern designs were shocking. Even more so as artists associated with the Union des Artistes Modernes (UAM), such as Jean Puiforcat and Jean Fouquet, eschewed extraneous decoration in favor of austere and inventive pieces. By the end of the 1920s, Jeanne Toussaint had established the “S Department” at Cartier to create fantastic utilitarian objects such as handbags, vanity cases, and smoking accoutrements, made without the elaborate stones and trimmings of the costliest Cartier creations. Toussaint’s streamlined designs became popular, and particularly during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the austere nature of such pieces helped make the S Department integral to the continued success of Cartier. At one time, the department accounted for nearly one third of Cartier’s sales. This clock, the “Ligne S” is a rare example of a timepiece created by the Department. A nearly identical example to this clock was owned by Eric Nussbaum, first director of the Cartier Collection who was charged with finding the rarest and most important example of the company’s artistry. This magnificent clock shows that Toussiant was aware of what was happening on the design forefront and is as unusually bold and austere as something from a UAM designer might be. The clock is composed of a rose mirrored face with black Roman numeral chapter ring and skyscraper-like hands all set into a black enamel case. The clock alternates between dark and light surfaces that are mirrored or opaque, creating a study of both light and stacked geometry. While this clock displays modern design choices, the form is also recognizably Cartier. The company first started making their own timepieces around 1912 with Maurice Couet and quickly developed a form of thin screen-like clocks that lent itself the their decorative program. Deceptively simple, this rare and beautiful example of an Art Moderne desk clock by Cartier would be an important addition to any collection.


  • Creator
  • Metal
  • Stone
  • Stone Cut
  • Weight
    1882.3 g
  • Dimensions
    Height: 6 in. (152.4 mm)Width: 5.38 in. (136.66 mm)Length: 2.34 in. (59.44 mm)
  • Style
  • Place of Origin
  • Period
  • Date of Manufacture
  • Condition
  • Seller Location
    New York, NY
  • Reference Number
    Seller: F72521stDibs: LU2075211051252

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    Free Shipping: Standard Parcel Shipping
    to anywhere in the world, arrives in 1-3 weeks, excluding production time.
    We recommend this shipping type based on item size, type and fragility.
    Ships From: New York, NY
  • Return Policy

    A return for this item may be initiated within 3 days of delivery.

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About the Designer


Perhaps 1847 was not the ideal time to open a new watchmaking and jewelry business, as the French Revolution was not kind to the aristocracy who could afford such luxuries. Nevertheless, it was the year Louis-François Cartier (1819–1904) — who was born into poverty — founded his eponymous empire, assuming control of the workshop of watchmaker Adolphe Picard, under whom he had previously been employed as an assistant. Of course, in the beginning, it was a relatively modest affair, but by the late 1850s, Cartier had its first royal client, Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, niece of Napoleon Bonaparte, who commissioned the jeweler to design brooches, earrings and other accessories.Under the leadership of Louis-François’s son, Alfred, who took over in 1874, business boomed. Royalty around the world wore Cartier pieces, including Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, the Maharaja of Patiala and King Edward VII, who had 27 tiaras made by the jewelry house for his coronation in 1902 and issued Cartier a royal warrant in 1904. (Today, the British royal family still dons Cartier pieces; Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, regularly sports a Ballon Bleu de Cartier watch.)Cartier’s golden years, however, began when Alfred introduced his three sons, Louis, Pierre and Jacques, to the business. The brothers expanded Cartier globally: Louis reigned in Paris, Pierre in New York and Jacques in London, ensuring their brand’s consistency at their branches across the world. The trio also brought in such talents as Charles Jacqueau and Jeanne Toussaint.One of Cartier’s earliest major successes was the Santos de Cartier watch — one of the world's first modern wristwatches for men. (Previously, a large number of people were using only pocket watches.) Louis designed the timepiece in 1904 for his friend, popular Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, who wanted to be able to check the time more easily while flying.Cartier’s other famous timepieces include the Tank watch, which was inspired by the linear form of military tanks during World War I, and the so-called mystery clocks. Invented by watchmaker and magician Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin and later crafted exclusively for Cartier in the house’s workshop by watchmaker Maurice Couët, the mystery clocks were so named because the integration of glass dials on which the clocks’ hands would seemingly float as well as structures that are hidden away within the base give the illusion that they operate without machinery.On the jewelry side of the business, Cartier’s internationally renowned offerings include the Tutti Frutti collection, which featured colorful carved gemstones inspired by Jacques’s trip to India and grew in popularity during the Art Deco years; the panthère motif, which has been incorporated into everything from brooches to rings; and the Love bracelet, a minimal, modernist locking bangle reportedly inspired by medieval chastity belts.While the Cartier family sold the business following the death of Pierre in 1964, the brand continues to innovate today, renewing old hits and creating new masterpieces. It’s certainly one of the most well known and internationally revered jewelers in the world among clients both existing and aspirational.On 1stDibs, find a growing collection of contemporary and vintage Cartier watches, engagement rings, necklaces and other accessories.
About the Seller
5 / 5
Located in New York, NY

Siegelson is a world-renowned gallery offering rare collectible jewels. Third-generation gem and jewelry dealer Lee Siegelson has been credited with bridging the gap between art and jewelry design, in the process transforming estate jewelry into a vibrant part of the luxury goods and collectibles world. Focusing on a piece’s design rat...

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Established in 1920
1stDibs seller since 2020
6 sales on 1stDibs
Typical response time: 9 hours
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