Buying ‘My Wife’ A Cartier Baignoir 1920

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With our noses touching they said, ‘This is the last one we are getting for a while’.

My other half doesn’t wear a watch, to my eternal disappointment.
What self-respecting wife of a watch writer wouldn’t at least pretend to engage in the completely healthy and rational obsession her husband enjoys?
I’ve tried to convince her, but it’s always “It won’t go with my skin tone” or, “It would annoy me”, or “I would just never wear it”.The only watch she would consider, after much deliberation, is a Jade dial F.P Journe Tourbillon Souvran in platinum…

Jade dial F.P Journe Tourbillon Souvran in platinum
You're dreaming Katie

Great. I’m off to sell my kidneys.

Or like a normal person she can just tell the time on her phone and I’ll keep the abdominal slicing and dicing for my grail pieces.
I guess it’s fine, your partner can’t be all things for you, no one can.
I’ll have to get my horological rocks off elsewhere.

Sorry, that’s so gross….I’m keeping it in though..

In the spirit of the theoretical, however, If I was to choose a watch for my wife, for an upcoming anniversary perhaps, it would have to be the Cartier Baignoire. For purely selfish reasons of course. It’s just so beautiful that I couldn’t imagine her in anything else. Awww.
So, my love, let’s talk about the Baingoire.

Melanie Laurent wearing the Cartier Baingoire
Melanie Laurent wearing the Cartier Baingoire

Cartier’s other watch is a bathtub.

In 1912, an ovale cintré (arched oval) watch was designed by Louis Cartier, Grandson of Louis-François Cartier, the founder of the company.
They were original with their patriarchal naming conventions back then, weren’t they…

The Original Baingoire
The Original Baingoire

The design evolved throughout the 50s and 60s and was eventually named The Baingoire in 1973. The name translates from French to “bathtub”. I love how something so pedestrian sounds so elegant in French. I feel like I’m in a black-and-white movie.
What I want to know is how it came to be called the bathtub in the first place, here’s how I see it going down.
Read this next sentence in a French accent

Louis Snr: “Yo Louis, can you pass me one of those round watches? You know, the one that looks like a bathtub?”

Louis Jnr “OMG, pops I have the best idea”.

Historical accuracy at The Subdial has just hit an all-time high.

Catherine Deneuve wearing the Cartier Baingoire

Naming epiphanies aside, the Baingoire is a watch with a rich history that somewhat slid into irrelevance in the early 2000s thanks to the large watch craze. Thankfully, it seems to be enjoying a resurgence in popularity. This is perhaps due to the god-like status of its big brother, the Cartier Crash and the rumours that it was based on a melted Baingoire.

I'm not sure if I believe it to be honest, but it’s a nice story.

A Modern Baingoire for My Modern Wife

Moving on to today, the watch that embodies the spirit of Cartier (and my wife) the most is the Baingoire 1920 Small with a quartz movement (Ref:WGBA0022). It’s petite, elegant and it doesn’t care what you think of it. This, for a discerning woman such as my wife, is the perfect piece of functional jewellery.
Katie is going to be so pissed if she reads this…

The Cartier Baingoire
The Cartier Baingoire
The Cartier Baingoire
The Cartier Baingoire

The Dial

Being a masterclass in simple elegance and legibility, you wouldn’t think there was much to talk about here. You would be wrong.
On the Cartier website, all they say about the dial is that it’s ‘silvered’. This is pure garbage from their copy department, there’s so much more to it than that.
Yes, the dial is silver, but it also has a lovely speckled eggshell-coloured finish. It brings a warmth that is so fitting with the way this is meant to be worn. On naked wrists, sipping a Negroni and people-watching in the Parisian sun.

The Cartier Baingoire
The Cartier Baingoire

Taking care of indicating the hours is a set of slightly stretched Roman numerals in black. First seen in 1904 on the Cartier Santos, it’s almost as if the numerals are exploding out of the centre of the dial. This same Santos was also the first ever wristwatch from any brand. Flex.

Blued-steel sword-shaped hands are sharp and rich in colour. A perfect match to the iconic Blue cabochon that adorns the crown. More on that later.

The Cartier Baingoire
The Cartier Baingoire

The Case

As an object, the case of the Baingoire may well be in my top ten most beautiful things list. The biomimetic curves feel smooth and almost pebble-like in the hand. It’s ultra simple, with only one prevailing shape and no angles, but when the light hits its curves the details come to life.
It’s made from the only metal fitting for a watch like this, 18k yellow gold. There’s no telling me that this watch could be in any other material. I don’t care what ‘skin tone’ based objections you have Katie….

Sorry, soft spot.

The Cartier Baingoire
The Cartier Baingoire

The famous sapphire cabochon sits on top of a beaded crown of yellow gold. Cartier is known for their sapphire set crowns, and being the oldest method of cutting and polishing a stone, it adds an nice historic vibe.

Some More Gushing About The Baingoire, And One Criticism.

I can’t for the life of me find any information about the movement, all Cartier says about it is that it’s ‘Quartz’. Seriously, is it a French thing to be this vague? Oui?

The original pieces from the 1920s were manually wound but with a crown this small, thank god the modern one is quartz. My wife doesn’t need any more excuses thank you very much.

Catherine Deneuve wearing the Cartier Baingoire
Catherine Deneuve wearing the Cartier Baingoire

My one criticism with the Baingoire isn’t really about the watch.
I went into the Cartier boutique in Melbourne recently and asked them if I could have a look at one. After some hesitation, the salesperson unlocked their draw below the display pulled a lone piece out then leaned in close to me.
With our noses touching they said, ‘This is the last one we are getting for a while’. I tripped over some plush red carpet as I was reaching for my AMEX, then I thought. ‘Katie will probably divorce me If I come home $18,000 poorer. We need a new water heater after all…
My problem here is that I have the feeling that this watch will soon become the stuff of myth and be walled off behind endless waitlists and required spending. Like the Crash.
I don’t want or need 15 love bracelets.
I’m well aware that sharing my love of the Baingoire is contributing to the problem of supply and demand, so if you’re reading this, don’t you dare go and buy one. I’ll know..

Cya in the next one..

P.S. I want to come clean.
Throughout this post, I’ve been misleading you.
The entire time I’ve used my wife as an excuse to research and gush over the Baingoire when in reality, it’s me who wants it.
Yes, that’s right, I want a tiny Cartier dress watch to adorn my man-sized(?) wrist, in a completely un-ironic way. I love it.
Anyway, if I do end up buying the Baingoire, it will be a gift for her…. and if she doesn’t want to wear it (fingers crossed), you know where it will be.

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