History of Cartier watches

Updated: Aug 24

Cartier is probably the name most widely associated with jewelry. Make no mistake: Cartier is one of the most renowned jewelers in the world, but its role as a pioneer in the field of wristwatches should not be overlooked. In 1847, Louis Cartier inherited the Parisian workshop of his mentor; the rest is history. As a watchmaker, Cartier made a significant contribution to the popularity of wristwatches. Before that, pocket watches were widely preferred for indicating the time. While other companies made them, Cartier was the first brand to market wristwatches and make them essential. Its most famous models are the Tank, the Pasha, the Rotonde, the Ballon Bleu, and the Santos. Here’s the history of Cartier watches.

The beginnings of the Cartier house

In 1847, Louis-François Cartier decided to take over the jewelry workshop of his apprentice master Adolphe Picard. From its beginnings, he was highly regarded in the luxury sector for his extravagance and talent, which attracted the greatest fortunes of the time. Princess Mathilde, Napoleon's niece, became a client, followed by Empress Eugenie a few years later.

The first watches

The Cartier watchmaking department was founded in 1880. In the workshops, the master watchmakers of Cartier then made the first ladies' wristwatches set in 1888. At Cartier, the watches were designed as true works of art and very popular with aristocrats. Watchmaking creation continues to diversify. In 1899, Alfred Cartier, son, and partner of Louis Cartier opened a boutique in the very prestigious Rue de la Paix in Paris. In 1904, Louis Cartier created the first Cartier watches for men with a leather strap for his Brazilian friend Santos Dumont, an aviation pioneer. Alberto Santos-Dumont wanted to check the time without leaving the controls of his plane. At that time, pilots used pocket watches to see the time. It was the first modern pilot's watch to fit on the wrist. It was marketed from 1915-1916 under the name of its sponsor: Santos.

Cartier: official supplier to kings

In 1902, Louis-François Cartier's second son, Pierre Cartier, opened a boutique in London for the coronation of Edward VII. 1904 was a great year since the Cartier obtained two official supplier patents, the first issued by King Edward VII of England and the second by King Alfonso XIII of Spain. In 1905, King Carlos I of Portugal granted the same patent to Cartier, which confirmed its position as a prestigious brand. In 1906, the brand designed its Tonneau wristwatch, which has since become extremely famous Cartier men's watches. In 1907, Cartier never stopped to attract the preference of the highest-profile personalities of this globe and received the imperial patent as an official supplier issued by Tsar Nicolas II of Russia. The Cartier house subsequently received many other patents issued, among others, by King Pierre of Serbia, Duke Philippe d'Orléans, King Albert I of Belgium, as well as by the future Duke of Windsor and King Fouad I. from Egypt.

Expansion and flagship watches

From the beginning of the 20th century, the Cartier house opened up to foreign markets, notably with a second boutique in London and a branch in New York. In 1919, it was the launch of one of its most famous models, the Tank watch, many variations of which would subsequently emerge, such as the Tank Louis Cartier, the Chinese Tank, or the Cintrée Tank men's Cartier watches. Seven years later, the baguette Cartier diamond watch was launched; another famous model of the brand and its dial had the same width as its strap. In 1970, the expansion continued, and Cartier opened a boutique in Hong Kong. Today the brand is considered one of the most prestigious and sells its products all over the world.

Bottom line

Cartier is much more than a simple watch manufacturer. The Cartier brand is firmly established among the most prestigious luxury jewelry and watch brands in the world. Over the past century, the brand has truly redefined the way a watch is worn by offering iconic designs and forward-thinking concepts. The models are so well thought out that wristwatches become true icons, worn by the most influential personalities in history. If you are wondering where to buy Cartier watches, look no further, visit Wilson Watches!

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