Cartier was founded in 1847 when Louis-François Cartier, then an apprentice to Parisian jeweler Adolphe Picard, took over the business when his master passed away. By 1853, young Louis-François had become a favorite of Napoleon III’s cousin Princess Mathilde, who helped Cartier gain entry to Parisian society.
For the next quarter century, Cartier was strictly a jeweler, but in 1874, Louis-François’s son Alfred gained the company’s reins. He in turn brought his sons, Louis, Pierre, and Jacques, into the firm—it was this third generation of Cartiers that would make the Paris jeweler’s name synonymous with luxury wristwatches.
The first Cartier wristwatches were diamond-studded bracelets for ladies, which were introduced in 1888 and languished until Parisian fashions changed enough in the mid-1890s to encourage the adornment of a bare wrist with a watch.
But the real wristwatch breakthrough came in 1904, when, according to Cartier lore, a Brazilian aviation pioneer named Alberto Santos-Dumont complained to his friend Louis Cartier of the shortcomings of fumbling with a pocket watch on a short test flight. Cartier made his friend a flat, square wristwatch called, appropriately, the Santos. In the process, Cartier popularized wristwatches in France and throughout the world.
In 1912, Cartier introduced the oval Baignoire and tortoise-shell shaped Tortue models, followed in 1917 by Cartier’s most famous early wristwatch, the Tank, which was reportedly inspired by the design of Renault tanks used during World War I. Rudolph Valentino wore a Tank in the 1921 silent classic The Sheik.
In the early 1920s, Cartier partnered with fellow Frenchmen Jaeger and Breguet to produce movements for its watches. Other illustrious Cartier collaborators included Swiss makers Vacheron Constantin, Patek Phillipe, and Audemars Piguet.
During the 1920s, Cartier started stamping its watches with four-digit reference numbers—today, knowledgeable collectors know to look for and verify these codes before purchasing...
By 1940, Cartier had introduced a motoring watch, with a curved shape that was designed to be worn on the inside of the wrist—the winder was on the back of the watch, against the wearer’s skin, rather than the side. And then, in 1942, after the death of Louis Cartier, the company began several decades of stagnation.
Countless variations of the Tank appeared (in the Chinoise, horizontal bars at the top and bottom of the dial rest on the Tank’s vertical "treads"), and in 1965 there was even a watch whose body was shaped like a parallelogram. But it was not until the Must de Cartier in 1976 and the reissue of the Santos in 1978 that the firm was able to reestablish itself as a player on the wristwatch scene.
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Why Watch Lovers Aren't Lining Up for the Apple WatchGotta Be Mobile, February 27th
It turns out that many watch lovers and watch enthusiasts are turned off by the gold Apple Watch, and their money is better spent on something from Rolex or Cartier. Watch enthusiasts over on the /r/Watches subreddit had some interesting points to make ...Read more
Burglars Target Village Residents Who Leave Doors Unlocked, Police SayDNAinfo, February 27th
A 40-year-old woman on Perry Street had her $8,000 Cartier watch, her purse and her boyfriend's coats stolen about 2 a.m. on Jan. 25 as the couple slept, police said. Police said officers found the woman's purse under the stairwell on the first floor...Read more
Cartier Watch Wants Vibrating Diamonds To Be A Woman's Best FriendForbes, February 19th
I cover both timepieces and other luxury items that interest me such as cars and technology. An unshakable interest in wrist watches mixed with a passion for curiosity afforded me the opportunity to make them my career. My website aBlogtoWatch.com is...Read more
$5000 Cartier Watch Stolen While Woman Was Hospitalized, Police SayDNAinfo, February 12th
CHELSEA — A woman's $5,000 Cartier watch and Ralph Lauren bracelet valued at $250 was stolen while she was sick in the hospital, according to authorities. The Chelsea resident, 24, discovered the theft when she returned home to her West 24th Street ...Read more
Exclusive: Woman Hopes To Reunite Cartier Watch With Owner In Time For ...CBS Local, February 11th
It was in the early 1990s when Cassidy found a Cartier watch in the grass with an inscription that piqued her curiosity: “It says 'John Loves Leslie. February 21 1974.' ” Not knowing what to do, Cassidy put it away. “Back in the '90s, how do you find...Read more
SIHH 2015: Q&A with Cartier's Pierre RaineroBLOUIN ARTINFO, February 11th
The second trend is the research of originality and creativity with the métiers d'art fitting this search for uniqueness perfectly. If there was one Cartier watch you would buy this year, which one would it be? The new Crash Skeleton, although some...Read more
Tank Louis Cartier Skeleton SapphireWorld Tempus (press release), February 11th
Worn by Louis Cartier himself, the “Tank Louis Cartier” watch sets the standard to be upheld by all Tank watches. In contrast to the assertive choice of rectangular form and proud lines, the tops of the lugs were rounded, embodying the contribution...Read more
Police Blotter: Cartier watch lifted from parked AudiChicago Tribune, February 10th
The incident took place sometime between 3 a.m., on Friday and 3 p.m., on Saturday. A Cartier watch and a woman's heart pendant were among the items removed from an unlocked 2008 Audi parked on the 1300 block of Brummel Street sometime between ...Read more