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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Bitter Old Queen screws Santa ClausChicagoPride.com, December 18th
three of you wise queens to turn up at my manger here in Cathedral City bearing gifts: a pair of triple drop earrings from Tiffany & Co. ($1,900), a ballon bleu de Cartier watch ($5,800), and a man with a hairy ass and "low-hanging-on-the-tree...Read more
eBay Scales Back EMR Counterfeit Reporting ProgramEcommerceBytes, December 15th
Simpson said the item - a Cartier watch with a Movado movement - was perfectly legitimate, and that he had documentation from the watchmaker to prove it, but eBay objected to the use of the two brand names in the same listing. After pleading his case...Read more
Thieves steal safe filled with jewellery worth more than £30000 from Orpington ...News Shopper, December 15th
Two thieves have swiped a safe filled with jewellery worth more than £30,000 from a house in Orpington. Police are appealing for information following the burglary at 3.45pm on December 1. The suspects fled the scene on motorbikes. A Cartier watch and...Read more
With big boost in pension, many Mass. judges retireBoston Globe, December 3rd
The 32 judges retiring in 2014 range from the eminent to the controversial — from the chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court to a district court judge assigned to desk duty after being caught at Logan Airport pocketing another traveler's Cartier...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
$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
Woman tries to buy $40000 Cartier watch with fake credit cards, police saySun Sentinel, September 30th
Dayana Torres, 25, is accused of using a fake credit card. (The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office). By Kate Jacobson, Sun Sentinel contact the reporter · Law Enforcement · Crime · Credit and Debt. Woman tries to buy a $40,000 Cartier watch with a fake ...Read more
Kate Middleton Wears Cartier Ballon Bleu WatchForbes, April 24th
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 personal website ...Read more