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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Recent News: Cartier Watches

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Will they hear what we say?
NT News, April 28th

On Wednesday last week, nine days ago, we sent a list of questions to Malcolm Turnbull about his vision for regional Australia. His office has not yet responded. He found time to talk on radio about buying his wife a Cartier watch for her birthday. But...Read more

Strewth: PM of hearts
The Australian, April 28th

Things ticked along unfriskily, but there was an uncanny echo of the suggestion in yesterday's Strewth that, having received a Cartier watch from hubby for her birthday, Lucy might score a submarine next. Dare: “Now just personally, I believe it was...Read more

Sibylle's Style Diary: Cheryl Stern of 'Shoes and Baggage' on Being a ...
The Epoch Times, April 27th

Ms. Stern: I love my Cartier watch! Never goes out of style and so chic with everything. I never change watches unless for formal events. I will invest in good handbags and good shoes and a good jacket, but hate spending too much on trendy clothes...Read more

Blinded by trivia, Turnbull and Morrison tap out wrong messages
The Australian, April 27th

Turnbull's pasta sauce recipe sounded good and his reluctant disclosure that he got his wife, Lucy, a Cartier watch for her birthday was nice. But where was the full-blooded promotion and defence of the biggest military contract in the world right now...Read more

Malcolm Turnbull buys wife Lucy expensive Cartier watch for her birthday
The Australian, April 26th

“It was just a new watch — a new Cartier watch actually,” he said, laughing at his apparent penchant for French design in recent weeks. Mr Turnbull said his marriage was “the best call I ever made bar none” and immediately launched into the story of...Read more

In luxe Miami condo tower, Venezuelan oil tycoon with state ties chases ...
Miami Herald, April 22nd

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Cartier watch and Rolex - we need your help reuniting stolen items with their ...
Derby Telegraph, March 31st

Power tools, bicycles, jewellery with great sentimental value and even medals have all gone missing in recent burglaries in and around Derbyshire. Our gallery of pictures shows a wide variety of missing things, some with great sentimental value and...Read more

Cartier Drives Its Watchmaking Capabilities to New Heights
Robb Report, February 5th

Among luxury connoisseurs, the name Cartier is likely to conjure images of sumptuous jewels and classic 20th-century wristwatch designs, à la the iconic Santos and Tank models. But until recently, aficionados of fine watchmaking had to look elsewhere...Read more