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Cartier Puts Automotive Spin on Latest Men’s Scent

Cartier is aiming to rev up its men's fragrance business with the introduction in September of a new scent called Roadster, the firm's first men's fragrance launch in a decade — and a reference to a popular Cartier watch design.

Cartier is aiming to rev up its men’s fragrance business with the introduction in September of a new scent called Roadster, the firm’s first men’s fragrance launch in a decade — and a reference to a popular Cartier watch design.

The luxury jewelry brand, which is owned by Geneva-based Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, is looking to slowly build the new, automotive-inspired scent into the house’s biggest fragrance and a long-term performer within its limited, upscale fragrance distribution network.

The scent, which is described as a mineral fougere, was composed by in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent and it is tied closely to the Roadster watch, which made its debut in 2001. Design details of the bottle emulate those of the timepiece — for instance, the top of the bottle is molded after the crown on the watch and the watch’s date magnifier is reproduced on the bottle.

“We hadn’t launched a men’s fragrance in many years and wanted to do it right,” Frédéric de Narp, president and chief executive officer of Cartier North America, said of Roadster in an interview Monday.

Roadster is Cartier’s fifth men’s scent. The house’s last men’s scent, Declaration, was launched in 1998, but its Pasha fragrance, a 1992 entry, is Cartier’s best-selling men’s scent. In 1981, Cartier launched two inaugural scents simultaneously, Must de Cartier, a women’s fragrance, and Santos de Cartier, for men.

De Narp said of Roadster, “The fragrance, together with the watch design is extremely masculine.” The Roadster watch, which ranges in price from $4,550 to $325,000, is a “pillar” of the Cartier collection he said, adding, “Roadster will be the strongest pillar” of the firm’s fragrance assortment.

While Cartier executives would not discuss sales projections, industry sources estimate the Roadster scent could generate first-year retail sales in excess of $20 million.

The scent is to be launched in early September — first at Bloomingdale’s for a one month exclusive stay — before it is rolled out to Cartier’s full U.S. fragrance distribution network of roughly 400 doors, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Sephora. It also will be carried at Cartier’s 34 boutiques in the U.S. from early September.

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When it comes to the automotive aspect of the scent, de Narp said that the fragrance wasn’t modeled after a particular car but that in general the “roadster of the Sixties and Seventies” served as inspiration. Rings on the collar of the scent are meant to reference the rims of a roadster.

Philippe Nazaret, who was named assistant vice president of Cartier’s fragrance division in North America a month ago, moving from a similar Cartier post for South America, referred to the Roadster scent as a gemstone, pointing to the “transparency and luminosity” of the bottle, which is designed to stand on its side to suggest motion.

He noted that Roadster targets a younger consumer — 45-year-olds — than earlier Cartier scents.

Roadster mixes opening accords of bergamot and mint with vetiver, patchouli, cashmere wood, cistus labdanum and vanilla. It will be available in 100-ml. and 50-ml. eaux de toilette for $100 and $75, respectively. Accompanying the scent at launch will be an aftershave lotion, 100 ml. for $65, and a deodorant stick, for $30.

An advertising and promotional effort pegged by industry sources at roughly $3 million will support Roadster. While details of the campaign are still being hammered out, executives indicated it would likely include print ads in men’s magazines, scented pieces and e-mails.

And when it comes to the Roadster franchise at Cartier, the design won’t stop at watches and fragrance — the firm also is planning an optical eyewear collection under the moniker, which is to be called R de Cartier.