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 ...
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 an antique Cartier wristwatch. That way, they can tell for certain if the 1932 waterproof Pasha (made for the Pasha of Marrakesh) that they are about to purchase is real or a fake.
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.
Interviews & Articles
I got interested in pocket watches from working on mechanical things. I had an old car, and working on it gave me immediate satisf… [more]
I grew up outside of Philadelphia. I didn’t have any particular interest in clocks or watches as a kid; that came after I started … [more]
I started with pocket watches as a child, watching old movies on television, watching the cowboys occasionally pull out an old poc… [more]
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
National Watch and Clock Museum
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Top eBay Auctions
Recent News: Cartier Watches
Source: Google News
Tanja G on monochromaticVogue Australia (blog), June 14th
Paired with a classic Rag & Bone T-shirt and dressed up with a Gucci belt, Tiffany's silver pearl necklace, Cartier watch and Gianvito Rossi shoes (from Farfetch it's a timeless girl-meets-boy chameleon. 8. Pair a cool bomber like this gold-embroidered ...Read more
Paris Hilton: Material Possessions Aren't Important To MeThe Inquisitr, June 13th
At the very least, Paris wants the diamond Cartier watch she said was a gift from her late grandmother. Paris seems to be having something of a self-crisis of late. In another interview for The Bling Ring, Paris called out the celebrity-obsessed...Read more
Jeweller waits for £100k goods taken in raidScotsman, June 6th
The Taylors' ordeal began in 2009 when John bought a Cartier watch as a present for his wife at a car boot sale. However the piece wasn't to Mrs Taylor's taste and some weeks later she advertised it for sale on her personal eBay account, including a...Read more
Manteca police aid feds in drug arrestStockton Record, June 5th
Based on information gathered at Rojas' residence, police obtained a search warrant for a home in the 700 block of North King Road in San Jose, where authorities seized a 2012 Nissan Rogue, a Cartier watch and diamond earrings, officers said. HOME...Read more
Manteca investigation leads to almost 3 pounds of heroinManteca Bulletin, June 4th
She said that the SCU seized a 2012 Nissan Rogue at the residence, a Cartier watch and diamond earrings all of which belonged to the suspect. Rojas is scheduled to appear in the Manteca Branch of the San Joaquin County Superior Court on June 6 at 1:30 ...Read more
It's a wind up...Camilla spots gift watch is fakeExpress.co.uk, May 27th
It's a wind up...Camilla spots gift watch is fake. THE Duchess of Cornwall showed she had an eagle eye for jewellery yesterday when she was presented with what at first looked like a valuable Cartier watch. By: Richard Palmer. Published: Tue, May 28, 2013...Read more
Van Cleef, Cartier Generated “Remarkable” Results Last YearJewelers Circular Keystone Online, May 21st
“Demand for jewelry was particularly strong; demand for Cartier's watch collections was solid, tempered by lower wholesale orders for steel watches.” See Richemont's latest financial statement. In related news, Marty Wikstrom has resigned from her role...Read more
Our Local CorrespondentsNew Yorker, May 19th
In profile, Tammaro, who was fifty-four, resembled the Indian on the Buffalo nickel, but he was a fey charmer who adorned his shaved head with a driving cap and his arms with a Cartier watch and a gold Hermès bracelet. The one constant of his ...Read more