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.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
National Watch and Clock Museum
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Cartier Watches
Source: Google News
Keeping It Simple and ClassicVegas Seven, January 27th
Canali sport coat. Eton shirt. Tom Ford tie. Zanella pants. Donald J Pliner shoes. Cartier watch. | Photo by Jon Estrada. Who? Paul Lowden, IV. What? Financial reporting manager. Who influences your style? My style is pretty conservative. I got that...Read more
Rotonde de Cartier Grande Complication SkeletonLive Trading News, January 27th
The Rotonde de Cartier Grande Complication Skeleton is the most complicated watch Cartier has ever produced. This is about as far from a 2-handed Cartier Tank watch as one can get. Cartier's fine watchmaking department has been making strides ...Read more
Clé de Cartier 40mmWorld Tempus (press release), January 26th
The new Clé de Cartier watch comes in 40mm, for men, and in 31 and 35mm for women. We focus today on the two models for men. A Cartier timepiece is always a work in three dimensions, a quasi-architectural exercise. Clé de Cartier is no exception. In...Read more
Police: Palm Beach stores bilked on man's phony-credit card spreePalm Beach Post, January 24th
11 and purchased a Cartier watch for $48,548. Police say Despaigne Moreno was also the driver who dropped off Dayana Torres, 25, at the Cartier store on Sept. 24 where she tried to buy a $41,600 watch. Torres was arrested at the store and faces two ...Read more
Cartier Plans to Increase Production at Fribourg FactoryWall Street Journal, January 22nd
“This is aimed at non-Cartier clients for their first Cartier watch, and for Cartier aficionados who want to add pieces to their collection,” said Mr. de Quercize. Cartier plans to try to deal with the surging franc in part by raising prices in the...Read more
Cartier to Raise Prices in Euro Zone After Swiss Franc SoarsThe Business of Fashion, January 21st
Cartier's watch revenues have been hit hard by China's anti-corruption drive and the lack of new models was a concern for investors. Julien Marchenoir, marketing director at Vacheron Constantin, a Richemont brand celebrating its 260th anniversary this...Read more
Luxury watch sales hit by 'weak China market and Hong Kong protests'The Guardian, January 15th
A Cartier watch on display in Switzerland. While sales in the Asia Pacific region and at Richemont's watch brands declined in the quarter, Europe benefited from a return of tourist shoppers and the Americas still reported good growth. Photograph...Read more
Tonto Dikeh's Ex Makes New Boo A Customized 10 Carat Gold Cartier Wrist WatchInformation Nigeria, January 13th
Truth be told, is it really worth it?? He goes through all the stress of customizing stuff for his girlfriend, flaunts it on social media, they break-up and he does the same old dance again with another lady?!? Anyways, Tonto Dikeh's ex-boyfriend...Read more