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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Former Heat employee robbed of championship ring, jewelry
7Online WSVN-TV, September 17th

The thief took off with the championship memorabilia, as well as some other belongings like limited edition Beats headphones, a gun, a computer, a Cartier watch, and a 2006 championship hat. After ransacking the home and taking what they wanted, the ...Read more

Jewelry Giant Misses Sales Estimates On Asian Slowdown
Financial Advisor Magazine, September 17th

Cartier's watch business suffered from weak demand and destocking in Asia. “Sales growth was subdued overall, with double-digit increases in the Middle East and Americas largely offset by low growth in Europe and decreases in Asia-Pacific and Japan,” ...Read more

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Wall Street Journal, September 16th

Mr. Istel cited a weak performance by the company's Cartier watch brand, which suffered from low demand and overstocked retailers particularly in the Asia Pacific region where Richemont gets 40% of its sales. Sales were lower in Hong Kong, Macau and ...Read more

The trapped butterfly
The Age, September 15th

It sounds like a cliché and there is something conventional about Jill Wran, from her Cartier watch to her high-caste brushed-back blonde hair to that impossibly cultured, almost theatrical voice. Early in her privileged/unprivileged life, young Jilly...Read more

Secretary of State regularly keeps government records secret
Boston Globe, September 13th

In May, Galvin's office rejected a request by Fox 25 reporter Mike Beaudet for a copy of a State Police report about a judge accused of taking a $4,000 Cartier watch from a security checkpoint at Logan Airport. Galvin's office said the report could be...Read more

Judge accused of stealing is cleared, opening way for pension boost
My Fox Boston, September 7th

DEDHAM ( -- State police and prosecutors sought to charge a Massachusetts district court judge with larceny earlier this year after surveillance video at Logan Airport showed her taking another traveler's Cartier watch, but a clerk...Read more

Queensland minister Rob Mulhoek given $23k Cartier watch by noodle billionaire
Courier Mail, September 7th

Mr Molhoek received the ladies' model Cartier watch from Li Guancheng Investment Management Group chair Li Ruipeng, who made his fortune from instant noodles before expanding into glass manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, engineering and printing...Read more

It's Time for Slender, Jewelry-like Women's Watches
Wall Street Journal, August 22nd

Embraced by royalty in the 1800s, they functioned more as graceful jewelry than mechanisms to tell time. (No doubt Princess Orlov of Russia, whose 1912 Cartier watch featured a diamond bezel and a pearl, onyx and rose-cut diamond strap, had an...Read more