This Airship model was made as part of the exhibition Cartier in Motion curated by Norman Foster at the Design Museum in London, made from the hand-drawn plans of the designer and pilot Alberto Santos Dumont, dating from the turn of the century. Dumont piloted the airship from Parc Saint Cloud to the Eiffel Tower and back in 1901, winning the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize. Cartier subsequently created a wristwatch – the first men’s wristwatch – for Dumont in 1904.
The main balloon element of the airship model was 3D printed; the chassis suspended beneath was soldered together from etched brass components, and rigged by hand using fine wire. All other details – sandbacks, motors and baskets – were handmade.
The model was designed to be suspended from a ceiling by fine attachment points set in the main balloon. Despite designing the unit to be as strong as possible, such fine structures meant it could not rest on any of its sides without damaging the rigging or chassis; consequently the model was transported in a bespoke flight case, suspended and wedged firmly to prevent swaying in transit, with meticulous handling instructions.