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.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Cartier Tank 18k Yellow Gold Quartz Ladies Watch With Original Band And BuckleCartier Panthere 18k Gold 3.91ct Vs1/f Diamond Quartz Ladies Watch-all Original!Cartier Santos 100 2656 Ss/18k Gold High Fashion Automatic Men's WatchCartier Panthere Panther 18k/stainless Ladies Watch 1057917 W/ Box No Reserve!!Cartier Roadster 2510 Automatic Ss High Fashion Men's WatchCartier Panthere 18k Gold & Stainless Steel Small Size Ladies Wrist Watch - 1120Mens Santos De Cartier18k Gold Automatic With Date Cartier Santos 18k/stainless Steel Watch 1567Cartier Roadster 18k WatchVtg Cartier Ladies Tank Mechanical Wind-up Wrist Watch W Rare Tigers Eye Dial NrLadies 18k & Stainless Steel Cartier Santos Automatic Wrist Watch W Original BoxMens Cartier Must De 21c Chronograph St.steel Quartz D-buckleCartier Pasha 1035 - Solid 18ct Gold With Diamond Bezel & Grill - No ReserveCartier Santos 100 Xl ChronoghraphCartier Tortue Platinum Xl W1546151 Box & Papers No Reserve!Cartier Roadster S Chronograph Xl - Ref. W6206020 Stainless Steel Rubber BezelLadies Must De Cartier Tank " Silver 925 With 18kgp " Tank Manual Winding2014 Cartier Ballon Bleu Ref. W6920071 S/steel 33mm Swiss Automatic! Flawless!!!Santos De Cartier Women's Stainless Steel Quartz Swiss Made Wrist Watch Cartier Roadster Xl Automatic Watch Analog Preowned Lowest Price!Must De Cartier Tank Ladies Gold Vermeil Sterling Silver Mechanical WatchWomens Cartier Tank Francaise *** Diamond *** !!!Cartier Tank Solo Ladies White Dial Stainless Steel & Leather Ref 2716 Watch Nr!Mint Cartier Ladies Mens Midsize 18k Gold Ss Must 21 Watch Box & Papers Long TooCartier Panther Ronde Ss/18k Gold Elegant High Fashion 30mm Quartz Men's WatchCartier Tank Watch Mens No ReserveCartier De Santos 18k Gold & Stainless Steel Roman Dial Quartz Mens Cartier Santos Stainless Steel Automatic Men's Watch!Cartier Vintage Tank 18k Plaque 925 WatchCartier Ligne 21 Must De Cartier 18k Gold Plated & Stainless Steel 1330Cartier "santos" Automatic 18k Yellow Gold /st.steel Ladies Watch & Display BoxMens Cartier Santos 100 Xl *** Diamonds Everywhere *** Display Model !!!Rare Mens Cartier Santos 18k Gold Automatic Lapis Dial/diamond Bezel 150 Grams!Cartier Santos 100xl Automatic Stainless Steel Watch W20073x8 Cartier Ballon Bleu 36mm W69017z4 Quartz ss Midsize 3005 ladies Watch Cartier Roadster 2510 Ss Automatic ~no Reserve!!~ Mens WatchCartier La Dona Ladies Stainless Steel Quartz Watch W660022i Retail $5250Mint $3000 18k Gold Ss Cartier Must 21 Blue Shark Band Ladies Watch & BoxAuthentic Pasha De Cartier 2475 Date Automatic Stainless Steel Men's Watch W/boxCartier Must 21 Chronoscaph 2996 White Rubber & St. Steel Ladies Watch Nr!Pasha De Cartier C Stainless Steel 35m Unisex Watch Automatic Date 84-99 Retro Men's Fab 29.5 Mm Must De Cartier Watch 18 Kt. Gold Vermeil / 925 Sterling W BoxVintage,rare Swiss Made Cartier,but Need Repair Or Use For PartsWomen's Watch Lot Of 4 Ny & C Cartier Hilfiger Cartier Pasha 2338 Ss Automatic ~no Reserve!!~ Mens Wrist Watch-Vintage 1965s Cartier 18kt Gold Electroplated 17 Jewels Cal.2512 WatchVery Fine Scarce Vintage Cartier 17j Wristwatch Black Dial Unusual Stepped Case Vintage Cartier Yellow Gold Tank Watch . G20m . Needs Repair Strap.Cartier Santos 100 Luxury Watch Lowest Price!Mens Cartier Tank 18k Gold Vintage Watch Cartier 21 Gold & Stainless Steel Automatic Women's Watch!Vintage Cartier Tank Watch With Crocodile Strap - 18k Gold, Mechanical MovementRare Cartier Vermeil 18k Gold Men's Vintage Watch. Barely Worn!Mint Vintage Cartier Panthere,pasha,murt Watch Box,rare,pillow,borchure,band,etcCartier Santos Watch St Steel Ladies Automatic Black Roman Numerals No Rerserve!Cartier Tank Francaise Two Tone 18k Gold And Ss Unisex Midsize Cc484647 2301Mens Midsize Cartier Must De 21c 18kgp & St.steel Quartz W/braceletCartier Santos Watch Two Tone Ss/18k Ladies Ref 1566 Rhodium Roman Numerals N.r!Women's Vintage Cartier Santos 18k Gold /stainless Steel Quartz WatchPanerai Iwc Cartier Rolex Philip Stein Homage Collection Invicta Parnis Tao

Recent News: Cartier Watches

Source: Google News

Inside Cartier's New Design District Boutique with CEO Mercedes Abramo
Haute 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 Market
Haute 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 deal
Reuters 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 light
Press 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 gym
getwestlondon, 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 five
CNNMoney, 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 Occasion
New 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 Friend
Forbes, 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