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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In China, Li Ruipeng is known for debts not RolexesThe Australian Financial Review, February 12th
A month after the dinner, Mr Li also gave a $23,400 Cartier watch to then Queensland minister Rob Mulhoek when he met with him on the Gold Coast. Despite the lavish gifts in Australia, a series of legal disputes across China over the past two years...Read more
SIHH 2016: Introducing The Drive de Cartier CollectionHaute Time, February 11th
From the outset, it is visibly a Cartier watch: the bold Roman numerals, the blued steel sword-shaped hands, the guilloché dial, and the blue sapphire on the winding crown are instantly recognizable. And when we pick it up, its form is irresistible to...Read more
Strewth: Barnaby Joyce's odyssey as he goes goat shootingThe Australian (subscription), February 11th
As The Courier-Mail reported last year, when he gave a $23,400 Cartier watch to then Newman government assistant planning reform minister Rob Molhoek, he gave him the women's model. Shorten isn't against Rolexes per se. He showed he understood ...Read more
E-fit released in hunt for robber who yelled 'Barcelona' at victim before ...Evening Standard, February 6th
An unknown man approached the 69-year-old victim and began talking to him about football. After shouting the northern Spanish club's name in his face, the mugger is said to have grabbed the pensioner's wrist in an effort to remove his Cartier watch...Read more
Cartier Drives Its Watchmaking Capabilities to New HeightsRobb 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
Drive de Cartier: The New Cartier Men's CollectionWatchtime.com, January 20th
Cartier drives home its iconic design codes in the Drive de Cartier, its new shaped men's collection, introduced this week at SIHH 2016 in Geneva. The cushion-shaped case of the Drive de Cartier is the latest creation designed to reinvigorate the brand...Read more
Man fined for false claim on GST refund for Cartier watchTODAYonline, January 14th
Zheng Da Fei, a Singaporean permanent resident, had in May 2014 approached a Chinese national tourist at Changi Airport for help in claiming a GST refund after his wife had purchased a S$44,500 Cartier watch at a store at Paragon boutique in Orchard ...Read more
Clé De Cartier 'Two-Tone' Watch For Men In Steel & GoldForbes, September 30th
Moving back to this men's model, the reference W2CL0002 Clé de Cartier watch might not be the all-steel Clé fans have been asking for, but it is pretty close. Two-tone gold and steel Cartier watches aren't uncommon, but this is the first for a men's...Read more