Cartier was creating watches long before many other brands were even founded. But why is it more known for its jewelry these days? Is it worth buying a Cartier watch? Find out what you need to know in our short Chrono24 guide.
Cartier was founded by Louis-François Cartier in 1847. The maison began as a design and jewelry operation, but the brand has created many iconic watches throughout its history. Louis Cartier, grandson of the founder, increased the brand’s emphasis on marketing, which elevated the company to the global success story it is today. He was assisted by his brothers Pierre and Jacques, who set up shops in New York and London, respectively.
Cartier is currently owned by Richemont, which also owns watch brands like Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC, Panerai, Piaget, and Vacheron Constantin.
Cartier’s Most Iconic Watch Models: From the Santos to the Tank
In the early 20th century, Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont requested a watch he could wear while flying. In 1904, Cartier created the Santos, the first ever pilot’s watch and one of the first wristwatches designed for men.
Even more famous than the Santos is the Cartier Tank. The Tank debuted in 1917 with a rectangular case modeled after the shape of the tank tracks seen on the battlefields of World War I. The Tank has been worn by celebrities and high society types for over a century, including Jackie Kennedy, Fred Astaire, and Andy Warhol, who famously wouldn’t even wind his watch, preferring to wear it only as a fashion accessory.
The Cartier Crash is another notable and instantly recognizable model from the Parisian brand. It’s the most prestigious and hardest to get watch from Cartier, with one selling at auction for $1.5 million in 2022. Legend has it that the surreal case shape was inspired by a Cartier Baignoire Allongée that survived a car crash, but in reality, the watch was designed to reflect the bohemian culture of 1960s London.
Are Cartier watches worth buying?
Let’s talk about brand perception. Cartier is the top choice for those wanting something recognizably chic. The brand takes major design risks, but even when they push the limits of case architecture, the Cartier DNA still shines through. That being said, the brand focuses much more on design than they do on technology. Thus, it isn’t the best fit for those who value ruggedness and engineering over pure aesthetics. If you want a good-looking watch that’s widely respected by enthusiasts and laymen alike, however, Cartier is a solid choice.