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The return of the Panther

December 7 2017

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Between its launch in 1983 and 1996, the year its production was discontinued, it sold more than 600'000 Panther watches. Cartier has chosen to relaunch this year and in a short time it is again an object of desire. How to explain its success? - Isabelle Cerboneschi.


a Panthère de Cartier watch was launched in 1983, its production was interrupted in 1996. She could have been quietly forgotten in the drawers of the story. And yet, Cartier decided to bet on it and relaunch it in 2017. Why this particular model? In the first place, it is necessary to count with the desire of the CEO Cyrille Vigneron to refocus the watch offer of the brand on the feminine clientele. A desire that is worth order. Then, there is undoubtedly a part of intuition in this decision: that which leads to believe that this watch, daughter of the years 1980, corresponds perfectly to our time.

It seems that his name was inspired by the movement of the beast on the move: agility, flexibility found in the links of the bracelet. But Jeanne Toussaint, the one that was nicknamed La Panthère at Cartier, is probably also for something (read below).

When the Panthère watch was launched in 1983, she met with immediate success. More than 600'000 watches have been sold since its launch, despite the fact that production has been interrupted.

But what makes an object, in this case a watch, become a success?

It's primarily a question of style. We find in the Panther all the codes of Cartier: the Roman numerals on the dial, the hands in the shape of a blued steel sword, the octagonal crown set with a cabochon, and the jewel bracelet to remind that Cartier is primarily a jeweler .

But above all it has the same square case with screws on the bezel that the Santos, this watch created by Louis Cartier for his friend aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont in 1904. In 1978, this model had been democratized in a gold and steel version, five years before the launch of the panther. He had been seen on the wrist of Michael Douglas in the movie Wall Street in 1988. If Santos was the expression of human power, the Panthère watch will become the expression of the power of the woman.

An object is never born by chance. It is the fruit of an era and a given society. But what happened in 1983? In France, since the watch was born in France, the left has been in power since the election of François Mitterand in 1981. A left that will soon be called "caviar". That same year, the French are subject to a rigorous plan that prevents them from changing more than 1500 French francs in a fiscal year, the equivalent of 210 euros. We do not go very far with 210 euros in pocket. The French will go on holiday at home, spend their money inside the country and make staycation before time.

In the world, the colors are dark: we are in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war, the bombings in Beirut are succeeding each other, ... The colors are no more rosy today.

In 1983 Sanyo invents the camcorder and the Internet is in full development. But it will be necessary to wait until the 1990 years so that the individuals can have access to the World Wide Web. In 1983 we live a pivotal period but we do not know yet. It has been 15 years since May 1968, not quite a generation, but the youth understood that it could make things change and wants to believe that anything is possible. She wants to exercise unlimited freedom and take power. Women also understood it. And she will express it by all means, including their wardrobe.

The fashion of the time is dominated by two names: Thierry Mugler and Claude Montana. In parallel with the rise of Azzedine Alaïa who launched his first collection under his name in 1981. Chanel is close to closing. Fortunately for the house, in 1983 Karl Lagerfeld is appointed to the artistic direction. It will take very little time to put the double C mark on the chessboard of fashion. The man has a flair, a sense of the times and fearsome fashion.

The models who roam the catwalks have huge builds, like the ambition of the women of the time. This is the advent of theExecutive Woman wearing a tailor with padding to find a place in a world of men unwilling to let it pass. The silhouette in X is in the spotlight: broad shoulders, thin waist.

In response to this hyperstructured fashion, Japanese creators like Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto, who presented their first collections in Paris in 1981, propose to deconstruct fashion. But their collections are criticized by critics who describe them as "Hiroshima chic". It will take them a few more years before they succeed in imposing their style.

In England, the Punk movement is raging. The No Future is neither a posture nor a slogan, but a way of life. It will be decades before this stylistic revolution is recovered by theestablishment.

The advent of sportswear was made possible thanks to Lycra. This material, invented in 1959, began to be used in the 1970 years for the manufacture of sportswear, then spread in the 1980 years to all ready-to-wear. Today, Lycra is part of our life and we used to wear second skin clothes, but that was not always the case, as confided to me Azzedine Alaïa: "Before, to have dresses close to the body, it was necessary to put pliers. With Lycra, no need to put sheath to tighten the waist and at the same time the body of women remains more free. Even if they are tight, they can walk. »Time is at body consciousness. A fashion against the current of what had preceded.

"The 1970 years, It was the period when boys and girls were dressed the same, explained me again Azzedine Alaïa: the sizes were no longer marked, they were straight, like those of boys, no longer tight. A freedom that was not one, because, when nothing is held, it is the body that lets go and we start to grow and we do not realize it, because we have pants wide, men's clothes ... And the woman forgets her body. "

Women of 1980 years do not forget their body: they do aerobics, they follow the show Gym Tonic of Veronique and Davina and make the Workout with Jane Fonda's video tapes. Their body is athletic and the dresses have to show it. Models of the moment - Linda (Evangelista), Christy (Turlington) and Naomi (Campbell), - The Trinity, as Steven Meisel called them, will soon be qualified as supermodels. These super-heroines, more famous than the dresses they wear, possess superpower: their supernatural beauty.

At the cinema, at the beginning of the 1980 years, we go to see Flashdance, Return of the Jedi, Scarface, and the horror movie Christine. Let's dancewe are intimate David Bowie. We accept, and how! We go out in box, a lot, we live mostly at night. We dance on Sweetdreams Eurythmics, on I'm still standing, from Elton John, we drag on Blonde Love of Kim Wilde, we dance the slow on Every Breath you take Police, and we shake ourselves on Sunday Bloody Sunday of U2.

It is in this context that the Panther de Cartier is launched. This is a jewel that gives the time and for women who want to impose their power, it is a perfect object. This watch quickly becomes the emblem of a society that no longer has taboo. The time is to excess, glitter, the excessive. The watch accompanies the stars in their excesses and their sleepless nights at 54 study in New York, at Castel or at the Palace in Paris, a place where happy fews rubbed shoulders with a heterogeneous but hyper-creative population. The nights of those years were definitely more beautiful than the days.

In January 2017, on the occasion of the International Exhibition of Fine Watchmaking, Cartier announced the return of the Panther. This watch is an icon of watchmaking. We do not touch the icons, otherwise we will denature them. It has not been redesigned, but simply relaunched. With three exceptions: the dial has been bleached, the links are slightly tightened and the date has been removed. It's the same, but with different watchmaking standards.

Last May, the official launch took place in Los Angeles, during a memorable fiesta with Johnny Hallyday and Dita von Teese, Dakota Johnson and Sienna Miller, Miranda Kerr and Sofia Coppola. who made the advertising clip. A minute of a light story of a dark-haired woman (played by Courtney Eaton), a dip in a turquoise pool, palm trees and a vintage Mercedes convertible. Oh yes, I was going to forget the man, who arrives at 25 seconds and leaves ten seconds later after crumpled the sheets with I Feel Love of Donna Summer in soundtrack. Speaking of her, Alicia Keys that night gave a memorable private concert. With her voice and her beauty of soul she touched the hearts of her targets: a public acquired and conquered.

There is 34 years, it was the advent of body conscious. Today it is rather the advent of conscious body. It has become clear that there is more than just one model of body and skin. We embrace diversity, or at least we try. Rihanna launched in September her first makeup collection, Fenty, which is for all women and all skin tones, "Be free to seize opportunities, take risks, dare something new or different," she says. Freedom, a word that we thought was acquired and for which we still have to fight according to the country in which we live.

The Panthère watch is not segmented: its design, both strong and pure, speaks to everyone. And because it also exists in steel version, it does not exclude. It is for all kinds of women of all ages, from all backgrounds. That's what Sofia Coppola wanted to do with the commercial, a mini-short film she made with Australian actress Courtney Eaton: seize the spirit of freedom that reigned in the 1980 years and transcribe it today 'hui.

Jeanne Toussaint, the Panther

Jeanne Toussaint was born in Belgium in 1887 but hardly stayed there: at the age of 16 she was fleeing her country with her lover, something unusual at the time.

She was one of those women who were called "demi-mondaines". An elegant name to describe those who traded their bodies with well-born men. At this pivotal period between two centuries, the social elevator did not exist yet: we were born and we died in its environment. Becoming a half-socialite was one of the few opportunities left for women to change class.

Shortly before the First World War, Jeanne Toussaint met Louis Cartier. She loves him madly. Him too. But the jeweler's family puts a veto on their love story: when you're a jeweler you do not marry a woman like her, you just keep her up.

Jeanne Toussaint has a crazy elegance, a sure taste, an overflowing creativity, and a furious spirit of independence. Louis Cartier has the great idea to appoint her to the artistic direction of the house in 1933, position she will occupy until 1970. She participated in inventing the Cartier style. It is to her that the jeweler owes the birth of figurative jewelry.

One day the idea was to send the designer Peter Lemarchand to the Jardin des Plantes to draw big cats. The first panther in jewelry was born in 1948. It was a brooch representing a languid panther on an emerald 116 carats. This jewel will become the property of the Duchess of Windsor. Like many others. "The Panther", on the other hand, has never belonged to anyone.