Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces...

Hong Kong, Dec 05, 2021

LOT 239

Eight-day going mystery prismatic desk-clock; “Pendule Mystérieuse à Prisme”; silver

HKD 100,000 - 200,000

EUR 11,300 - 22,500 / CHF 11,900 - 23,700 / USD 12,900 - 25,700

Sold: HKD 137,500

Silver, keyless-winding, vertical rectangular-shaped, eight-day going mystery desk-clock.

Cabinet with polished “godronné” (fluted) décor; the upper section housing two opposing rock crystal prisms; base secured by four screws in the sides, winding and hand-setting crown in a recess in the side.

Matt silver colour dial with painted suspended Arabic numerals and radial indexes in mirror image; gilded metal “Bâton” hands.

Movement 19’’’, rhodium plated, straight line lever escapement, cut bimetallic balance with poising screws, blued steel flat balance spring, polished index-regulator.

Click to full view

Grading System
Grade: AAA


Case: 3


Movement: 3*


Overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense

Dial: 3-01


HANDS Original

Brand Cartier, Paris

Model Pendule Mystérieuse à Prisme

Year Circa 1950

Movement No. 104 922 M

Case No. 02 164 (with illegible master mark; probably by Edmond Jaeger, Paris)

Caliber 19’’’, lateral lever escapement, (signe d Cartier Inc; based on LeCoultre cal. 205 (or 19 LECBC), 15 jewels), unadjusted

Dimensions 83.3 x 59.8 x 58.7 mm

Signature Case, Dial and Movement

Accessories Original fitted box (so-called “La petite boîte rouge”)


Cartier’s mystery clocks and prism clocks

At the beginning of the 20th century, Maurice Coüet, a young Parisian watchmaker, son and grandson of watchmakers, presented to Louis Cartier (1875-
1942) one of his own creations. In 1912, “Monsieur Louis” commissioned one from him; it was the “Model A”. In the years and decades that followed, other
equally exceptional timepieces were created.

In 1937, Cartier unveiled its prism clocks, in other words a desk clock with a dial reflected by prisms, thus giving the impression of an optical illusion.

They are in fact two blocks of optical glass, placed in a cubic and vertical case, which by opposing their inclined faces in such a way that the dial and the
hands are visible only from certain angles, reflected through the crystal prisms according to the principle of the underwater periscope.

These clocks were produced in several sizes; the smallest were called “montres prismes” (prism watches). They were invented (January 1937) by Gaston
Cusin (born 1897), a watchmaker who had been working at Cartier since the age of 14, under the direction of the brothers Maurice and René Couët.
Between the 1940s and 1970s, these clocks were successively equipped with 8-day going movements manufactured by Jaeger-LeCoultre (calibre 205
(or 19 LECBC) with one barrel), then Universal, Geneva (calibre F 745 with two barrels). The miniature clocks, “montres prismes” (prism watches), are
equipped with watch movements signed European Watch & Clock Co. Inc. or Cartier.