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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Inside Cartier's New Design District Boutique with CEO Mercedes AbramoHaute Living, April 1st
Cartier North America's new President and CEO, Mercedes Abramo, takes Haute Living on an exclusive tour of their even newer three-story Design District maison. The 7,500-square foot store is reminiscent of a Parisian “hotel particulier” in the 16th ...Read more
Cartier Clé De Cartier Watch Unlocks New MarketHaute Time, March 31st
Cartier didn't play it safe with its tunrkey watch. In fact, the French Maison created a major surprise at SIHH 2015, when it unveiled the Clé De Cartier, a brand new collection featuring a new shape and movement. But best of all, it's available in the...Read more
Yoox agrees to buy Richemont's Net-a-Porter in all-share dealReuters UK, March 30th
Richemont, which makes the bulk of its profit from its Cartier watch and jewellery brand, has agreed to a three-year lock-up for half its stake, or 25 percent, which analysts expect the Swiss group to sell eventually. It will appoint two of the 12...Read more
New art gallery paints Atlantic City in different lightPress of Atlantic City, March 28th
During an interview with The Press of Atlantic City, Young proudly showed off a gold Cartier watch that was a gift from Stallone and includes the inscription, “Love, Sly.” A two-painting set that couples Young's artwork with a picture done by Stallone...Read more
Designer watch worth £9000 stolen from Chiswick's Virgin Active gymgetwestlondon, March 23rd
Officers from Hounslow police station are appealing to anyone with information regarding the stolen Cartier watch - estimated to be worth £9,000 - which was taken during a burglary at the Chiswick Riverside Health & Racquet Club at Dukes Meadows...Read more
You can now rent a Rolex ... or fiveCNNMoney, March 23rd
He owned a Cartier watch his wife bought him before, and didn't think he needed to spend $10,000 on another one, until he became "enamored with" the Zenith watch he was borrowing. "I'm 46 years old. I have three kids. There aren't that many new things ...Read more
Timeless Ways to Mark the OccasionNew York Times, March 19th
When her daughter, Margaret, then a student at Princeton University, was about to turn 21, she asked for a Cartier watch as a gift. Thinking it was a great present and remembering that she had received a watch when she graduated from high school, Ms...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