HERO: Cartier Pebble Limited Edition Yellow Gold 2023 Ref. WGPB0003

Suave and Svelte: A Swinging 60’s Icon, the Cartier Pebble Ref. WGPB0003

To say Cartier timepieces have gone out of style is kind of like saying wingtip shoes, Ray Ban Aviators, or Eames Chairs have gone out of style. Sure, tastes change and these items may not to be for everyone, but they have always had a place in Western culture since their introduction. In that same vein, not only is Cartier back in focus for watch collectors, but special attention is also being paid to heavily stylized precious metal dress watches. 

The Cartier Tank Cintrée and Crash models have received renewed excitement, with both clocking serious wrist time on multiple well-known watch enthusiasts and celebrities in recent years. This attention has given Cartier the confidence to continue releasing updated versions of some of the bolder designs from their back catalogue, including the limited edition Pebble

Cartier Pebble Limited Edition Yellow Gold 2023 Ref. WGPB0003
Cartier Pebble Limited Edition WGPB0003

History

The original Pebble came out of Cartier’s London workshop which was led by Jean-Jacques Cartier. Based in the brand’s French tradition, the pieces produced by the London workshop (such as the Crash and the Pebble), mixed the optimism and freedom of post-war London in the Swinging Sixties with the elegance and finesse traditionally associated with Cartier’s designs. Incredibly limited in number, original Pebble watches have sold recently at auctions for well over $200,000.

The new Pebble released in 2022 is part of Cartier’s Privé Collection which was relaunched in 2015. The Privé collection has been used by the brand as a way to release limited editions of historic designs, often with unique calibers and in precious metals. The Pebble was issued in a limited edition of 150 total pieces with an MSRP of $44,700. 

Cartier Pebble Limited Edition Yellow Gold 2023 Ref. WGPB0003
Cartier Pebble Limited Edition WGPB0003

Design Details

The Pebble’s 36mm yellow gold case is designed (as the name implies) to resemble a small, perfectly smooth stone found on the shore. The dimensions of the new Pebble are almost identical to the original from the 1960s which clocked in at a hair under 36mm. The yellow gold has a gorgeous warm tone, making it much more subtle than other yellow gold alloys. With no lugs and a simple light brown leather strap, the design of the piece takes center stage with no extraneous details to distract from it. 

Cartier Pebble Limited Edition Yellow Gold 2023 Ref. WGPB0003
Cartier Pebble Limited Edition WGPB0003

The dial design has been described as reminiscent of a baseball diamond with rounded outer edges at 12, 3, 6, and 9 that continue the overall theme of worn, curvaceous lines. To contrast this, the inner minute track comes to distinct points, clearly delineating the position of the hours and minutes on the eggshell white dial. The dial printing is black and the blued steel hands perfectly compliment the sapphire cabochon on the crown. 

Cartier Pebble Limited Edition Yellow Gold 2023 Ref. WGPB0003
Cartier Pebble Limited Edition WGPB0003

Overall, the design is quirky but still in line with Cartier’s aesthetic. You can see hints of other Cartier models such as the Crash and Santos in the Pebble and if you’re looking for a precious metal timepiece that is understated yet still offers something completely different, the Cartier Pebble is one of the best options out there. 

Inner Workings

Like many Cartier timepieces, the Pebble runs on the calibre 430 MC. Hidden behind a solid gold case back, the 430 MC (based on the Piaget 430P) features Cartier’s signature interlocking “C” decoration on the main plates. The hand-wound movement with hacking seconds measures 20.5mm in diameter, and 2.1mm thick, with 18 jewels and 131 components. It has a beat rate of 21,600 bph and a 36-hour power reserve. A longer reserve would be welcomed, but the Pebble is more likely to be worn for a few hours at a time (at, say, a black tie gala or a coronation…) than it is to see everyday wear.

Cartier Pebble Limited Edition Yellow Gold 2023 Ref. WGPB0003
Cartier Pebble Limited Edition WGPB0003

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Versus the Competition

Obscure, oddly-shaped precious metal dress watches are having a moment right now, and while many manufacturers have not caught up with the market yet, there are still plenty of options, both vintage and modern, available. 

A brand that immediately comes to mind when looking for shaped precious metal watches is Piaget. Andy Warhol famously owned both Cartier and Piaget timepieces (among many others), demonstrating the appeal these kinds of pieces have for creative minds. Piaget might just be the master of interestingly designed precious metal timepieces and the brand has a plethora of vintage models that could give you the same funky vibe of the Pebble. The vintage yellow gold ref. 9801 A6 with a gorgeous Lapis Lazuli dial definitely fits the bill. The not quite circular, oval shape and stone dial makes the piece incredibly unique while the yellow gold integrated bracelet is comfortable while bringing some serious 70’s flair. Beyond this particular model, there are plenty of other fun vintage pieces from the brand if you are looking for something a little more affordable than the Cartier Pebble. 

Piaget 9801 A6
Photo Courtesy of 1stDibs

The Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse ref. 3738 in 18k rose gold is another great option. A classic design from the famed haute-horology brand, the Golden Ellipse measures 35 x 31mm and just 6mm thick. Patek Philippe adds the convenience of an automatic winding movement (unusual for a piece so thin) with the caliber 240 micro-rotor movement and finishes it with a gorgeous brown sun-ray dial with applied indices. 

Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse Ref. 3738
Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse Ref. 3738

And of course we couldn’t talk about funky case designs and not mention the most famous of them all, the Cartier Crash! Well known for gracing the wrists of some of the world’s most famous celebrities, designers, and tastemakers, the actual design goes far beyond its place in the current zeitgeist. Released in 1967, contrary to what you may have heard, the model was not inspired by a Baignoire that had been damaged in a car crash. Myths aside, the asymmetrical Crash is stunning with a Dali-esque case that gives the impression of it melting on the wrist. If you want a true conversation piece (and have the cash needed to lock one up), look at a Cartier Crash.

Cartier Crash Ref. WGCH0006
Cartier Crash WGCH0006 

Personality 

Non-round case designs paired with precious metals often present as ostentatious, regardless of size, but the Cartier Pebble (as opposed to say, the Crash), is decidedly not. While everyone seems to be on the Crash bandwagon right now, the Pebble is more limited and lesser known than the famed design. While the Pebble might take some getting used to for many collectors, the more you see it in person, the more you come to appreciate it.

Cartier Pebble Limited Edition Yellow Gold 2023 Ref. WGPB0003
Cartier Pebble Limited Edition WGPB0003

Final Thoughts

As collectors continue to explore the deep, dark corners of the watch world, obscure designs and uniquely shaped watches are becoming more mainstream and continue to gain in popularity. The 2022 release of the Cartier Pebble highlights the fact that brands are aware of this trend and are working to capitalize on it. With history, quality, and prestige all working in its favor, Cartier is having a resurgence in the watchmaking industry. By remaining true to its roots and focusing on design over technical innovation, the brand has created more than their fair share of timeless designs, and the Cartier Pebble will certainly be coveted for decades to come.

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