Cartier Just Revived Its Watchmaker Prize to Find Up-and-Coming Talent
The horologists must transform a pendulum movement to reflect the theme “Magic of the Senses.”
BY Rachel Cormack  |  May 11, 2024
3 Minute Read

Image courtesy of Cartier

Cartier is once again on the hunt for high-calibre horologists.

The Parisian jeweler just opened applications for the Cartier Prize for Watchmaking Talents of Tomorrow. Created exactly 30 years ago by the Institut Horlogerie Cartier, the prize recognises apprentice watchmakers in Switzerland, France, Germany, and, as of this year, Belgium.

The hands-on competition tasks up-and-comers with transforming a movement around a specific theme. For the 2024 edition, the watchmakers will need to reimagine a pendulum movement Cartier has produced for over a century by adding new aesthetic and technical innovations relating to the theme “Magic of the Senses.”

After applications close on 30 August, five watchmaking experts will select six technicians and six apprentices to move on to the next stage. (The judging panel includes independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen and watch specialist Roy Davidoff, among other industry heavyweights.) The 12 selected applicants will be given 80 hours to develop their project over two months. During this period, they will receive individual coaching from an experienced mentor. On 16 December, the finalists will present their completed projects before the judges at the Maison des Métiers d’Art in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.

Applicants need to reimagine a Cartier movement.
Image courtesy of Cartier

The prize-giving ceremony will then take place in January 2025. Prizes will be awarded both for technical brilliance and creative flair, according to Cartier. The top two winners will be offered a Cartier traineeship, while the three laureates in the two categories will receive a Cartier watch and an invitation to visit several Cartier locations in France and Switzerland.

Cartier isn’t the only noteworthy name focused on nurturing the next generation of watchmakers, though. Louis Vuitton and FP Journe also offer prizes for newcomers. Launched this year, the Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives sees the work of burgeoning talents evaluated by an international committee of watch experts. The winner receives a silver trophy, a grant of €150,000 (about HK$1.2 million), and a one-year mentorship at La Fabrique du Temps, LV’s modern manufacturer in Switzerland. (Raùl Pagès won the first edition of the LV prize.)

Similarly, FP Journe’s Young Talent Competition, launched in partnership with the Hour Glass in 2015, helps young watchmaking students and recent graduates build a reputation by spotlighting their work. The winner receives a diploma and 50,000 Swiss francs (roughly HK$431,230) to buy watchmaking tools and finance their horological project.

Such initiatives are mutually beneficial, of course. Cartier, Louis Vuitton, and FP Journe can see exciting new ideas, get acquainted with fresh talent, and recruit watchmakers for their own maisons. Finding and/or training newbies is even more pressing now that the industry is facing a shortage of watchmakers. By 2026, an estimated 4,000 new watchmakers will be needed in Switzerland to cover the increased demand for workers and the loss of retirees, as reported by The New York Times. Perhaps a few more maisons should consider doling out prizes, then.