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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These are the most extravagant requests a personal shopper has ever receivedVogue Australia, November 25th
Australian expat Lauren Bart returned to her hometown of Sydney when the company she was working for in London wanted to expand into Australia and Asia. Threads Styling launched in the UK in 2009 and is now the biggest independent personal ...Read more
What the Team at Luxury Ecommerce Site 1stdibs Wears to WorkRacked National, November 25th
Kate Klobe, Head of Social Media, is wearing a Céline top, Topshop culottes, Lanvin shoes, a Cartier watch, and jewelry from Dior, Claire's, Hermès, ASOS, and Kenneth Jay Lane. What are your beauty must-haves? Healthy hair and complex fragrances...Read more
Crash SkeletonWorld Tempus (press release), November 21st
A client entrusted a damaged Cartier watch to the head of the London subsidiary. Immediately captivated by this never-before-seen design, he decided to incorporate its folly into the vocabulary of Cartier's watch shapes. With its asymmetrical dial, the...Read more
An interview with Carole ForestierWorld Tempus, November 17th
— In her 15 years working for the Richemont Group, Carole Forestier has built up Cartier's impressive in-house watchmaking expertise from scratch, earning her the Best Watchmaker prize at the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix in 2012. At the SIAR in ...Read more
Cartier, Jaguar join forcesBarbados Advocate, November 16th
Cartier's watch-making history has been written over a hundred years, with a style that perfectly combines creativity and watch-making excellence. Manager of Cartier (Barbados), Angela Dejean, said that among the new timepieces is the Calibre de...Read more
Cornell police investigate theft of student's $4900 Cartier watchThe Ithaca Voice, November 10th
The crime log says the stolen item was a Cartier watch. Cartier's website describes the brand “as one of the world's most esteemed and respectful … in the luxury goods industry.” Among the Cartier watches costing in the $5,000 range are the Cartier...Read more
$5K Cartier Watch Stolen During Man's Move to Park Slope, Police SayDNAinfo, November 7th
PARK SLOPE — A man's recent move to Park Slope got him a new place to live, but cost him a $5,000 Cartier watch, according to a police report. A 32-year-old man told police that he last saw the expensive timepiece inside his safe on Oct. 19, the day...Read more
Watch with yellow sapphire and obsidiansWorld Tempus (press release), October 31st
Cartier Watch with yellow sapphire and obsidians. — A precious face to face between a diamond set dial and an impressive yellow sapphire. Montre saphir jaune et obsidienne © Cartier. http://goo.gl/QEiX70. This jewellery watch features a case and...Read more