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Cartier Roadster Quartz/Automatic Watch Review: Gold, Steel, Chronograph

Updated on January 8, 2015

Cartier Roadster

Cartier Roadster watch collection imports vintage auto and Art Deco inspired elements that gives the timepieces an unusually tight, focused appearance – a look that has become iconic in Cartier's oeuvre in particular, and luxury watchmaking industry in general.

The way the lugs embrace the case, as if aiming to fixate the dial and the movement inside, projects an uncanny sense of stability and reliability: an earthquake can occur on the outside, or a 200mph acceleration, but here time will lapse as usual. Symmetrically located screws reassert this firmness effect.

Cartier's architectural achievement in the roadster must the seamless (ironically, because there is actually a decorative “seam” between the bezel and the lugs) incorporation of powerful, dynamic lines within an elegant, unnervingly nonchalant overall aesthetic – a combination that epitomizes the best qualities of French design, and results in a confident, independent and slightly “untouchable” appearance.

Cartier Roadster Watch
Cartier Roadster Watch

It appears that Cartier's involvement with royalty projected on the Roadster: some monarchs indeed should not be touched by their subjects, according, for instance, to British decorum.


Though men's Roadsters incorporate color – several models feature a two-tone layout, and yellow gold watches add a warm backdrop – the dials, which form the center of the watch, present an essentially black and white configuration. This palette reveals Roadster the sports roots: powerful contrasts improve legibility, which is especially important in high velocity situations.

Cartier tone down the polarity by introducing slanted Roman numerals, and a pair of graceful sword hands – but the speed core is still there, bubbling underneath, lending each watch a touch of jeopardy. Chronographs give these ideas an additional boost.


Several Ladies watches deploy purple mother-of-pearl, coral and pink sunray dial ornaments, and painted indexes – bringing playful and whimsical ideas to the original design. Colored straps match various dial components, contributing to an overall visual harmony.

Jewelry pieces carry several rows of diamonds, encrusted on the bezel, lending the watches a distinct formal yet dressy look that yet again brings to mind aristocratic settings and gatherings.


Blending the circle with the square, tonneau shaped watches have a secured place on the intersection of fashion (dressy) and formal (or semi-formal) wear. Most high-end watchmakers, especially Swiss, offer a tonneau model: Ulysse Nardin Michelangelo, Patek Philippe Gondolo, Omega Specialities, Ebel Beluga Tonneau, and Longines Evidenza are typical examples of what can be done with this universal geometrical shape.


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