The opening is alluring, seductive and terribly pleasant: a dark, dusty, smoky leather accord, classy and straightforward, fairly close to Bois d'ascèse for the same "campfire ash" effect. There is quite a massive dose of Iso E Super, and also perhaps an equally artificial amber component, but however, it all smells utterly good and sexy. The initial leather accord is dry, austere, like in Knize Ten, then it progressively softens and gets sweeter thanks to vanilla. Not much to add: there is a slight patchouli note, perhaps a floral breeze or something equally "lively", but all is centered on leather and smoke, sensual and rich in nuances – coffee, aniseed, cinnamon, which vanish in the air like cigarette smoke. I also detect a slight layer of salty notes, which may be due to aldehydes or other aromachemicals used here, but however they fit the scent, as they provide a slight "sweaty velvety skin" note which is an added value of "sexy". The leather note is surely well-executed, cleverly played on up-to-date trendy ingredients (safraleine), but it's well played, as it smells rich, soft, velvety, with flavours of tobacco, aniseed, coffee. An austere, chic, sensual and noble composition with a beautiful "carnal" hint of naked salty skin. The evolution is subtle, it basically emerges more boldly the vanillin note, so it becomes only a bit sweeter as hours go by. A bit artificial and also a bit "already seen" (think of Bois d'ascèse marrying Knize Ten surrounded by a vanill-esque fog), but undoubtedly elegant, pleasant and refined.
For me the following epitomises this perfume: Lapsang Souchong (the smokey tea smell), leather, tar, the smoke from a campfire etc. If you don't mind these smells, or are a fan, you will like this very much. I do agree that the fragrance tones down after this somewhat harsh opening, but it is a classy scent, even if you do smell faintly like smoke and sweet leather in my opinion!
I think all the reviews here hit this one on the head. It's a mix of straightforward tea with leather (both the traditional birch tar kind and the modern quinoline kind) that smells rubbery in the sillage. Given a few hours, it loses some of the tea smell and gets a bit more piney and takes on the mulchy tones of opoponax, but also has an underlying vanilla sweetness.
It's odd - usually I love weird dark scents like this, but XIII never felt very compelling to me. While perfumes like Bulgari Black and Fahrenheit manage to be both strange and beautiful, like avant garde art that still appeals to the soul, XIII just feels like someone thought a niche line should have a "dark" scent, so they made one. I don't dislike it, and it's certainly not boring, but I just can't quite muster a thumbs up, from a strictly emotional standpoint.
On skin a smoky birch tar opening recedes to a darkly aromatic heart of lapsang souchong and patchouli. While there are indeed similarities La Treizieme Heure retains the warmth of Bulgari Black without getting all dusty/sweet and sports the brooding presence of Le Labo Patchouli 24 without its suffocatingly dense aura. That in itself is a remarkable technical achievement in my books, deserving of a 'thumbs up'.
Boasting above average projection and tenacity, La Treizieme Heure is probably not the easiest of scents to wear for me personally but certainly among the sexiest, if my wife were to be believed. There is definitely a virility about it that keeps it firmly in masculine territory. Dark, mysterious and otherwordly this could well be the signature scent of an immortal nightwalker.
Top: Bergamot, mate
Heart: Narcissus, holly
Base: Leather, patchouli, birch, vanilla
A true "cuir" is a rare occurrence nowadays. La treizième heure (XIII) by Cartier is a unique fragrance in the ocean of boring ultra-commercial crowd-pleasing fragrances that have been flooding the market in the past 20 years. I must admit that as a rule, leather/birch/black tea/tobacco fragrances are not exactly my cup of tea unless there is a strong amber/vanilla/tonka/opoponax note to counterbalance the composition (like in Tabac blond by Caron, for instance). XIII is a pure in-your-face smokey leather, period. The faint vanilla note is not really effective, as far as my skin reaction goes. At first, XIII reminds me of the charred remains of a rubber factory after a five-alarm fire! It is smokey, rubbery, dry and hard. Fortunately, the dry-down comes rather fast but the only real difference is that the brutal smokey notes just become softer and rounder. There is no real evolution of the fragrance per se (on my skin, that is). The entire composition remains extremely rubbery but surprisingly pleasant and elegant.
Although XIII is much too dry and smokey for my personal taste, this fragrance does make an unequivocal statement! Also, one can feel the quality of the product. Nothing synthetic here. Because of the originality and the audacity of La treizième heure, I have to give this fragrance a thumbs up rating. Now, I should love to meet someone who wears it stunningly well.
About the "shared" label: Although I tend to be quite lenient when it comes to the use of feminine perfumes on men and masculine perfumes on women (God knows I have worn my share of feminine fragrances!), I am not a fan of these modern so-called "shared" fragrance. I don't think these middle-of-the-road fragrances have much personality. In my opinion, XIII is anything but a unisex fragrance. In spite of it's class and refinement, XIII is a tough, harsh, butch masculine fragrance that not even every man can afford to wear. But of course, I am sure there are a few daring women out there who can!