Cartier is one of the oldest jewelers in the world, and has for a long time enjoyed the reputation for producing only the finest and the most luxurious watches, jewelry and accessories. Cartier was founded in Paris in 1847 by Louis-Francois Cartier, son of a powder horn maker. Just four years... read more.
Cartier is one of the oldest jewelers in the world, and has for a long time enjoyed the reputation for producing only the finest and the most luxurious watches, jewelry and accessories.
Cartier was founded in Paris in 1847 by Louis-Francois Cartier, son of a powder horn maker. Just four years later, Napoleon III came to power, and through Countess Nieuwerkerke, the young Cartier managed to become a supplier and jeweler to the court, selling Empress Eugenie a silver tea service in 1859. In the same year, Cartier opened a boutique on Boulevard des Italiens, one of the most fashionable adresses in Paris. Cartiers jewelry was characterized by lightness and airyness, in great contrast to the more formal design typical for that period.
In 1874, Cartiers son Alfred took over the company and expanded the operations to designing and manufacturing watches. In 1899, it was time for Alfreds son Louis Cartier to continue at the helm of the business. Louis Cartier was a great lover of watches, and wanted to start their own watch production.
In 1904, Louis Cartier met Alberto Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian aviator who complained of the unreliability of pocket watches in flight. Cartier decided to do something about this, and designed a flat wristwatch with a distinctive square bezell. Cartier named the watch to Santos, and it was a huge success. Today, over a 100 years later, the Santos series is still produced today in much the same form.
In 1907, Cartier entered in to a partnership with Edmond Jaeger, who became the exclusive supplier of all the movements for Cartier watches. By this time, Cartier was well-established in London, New York and St Petersburgh, and was well on his way to be the most successful watch manufacturer in the world. In 1912, Cartier introduced the models Baignoire and Tortue, followed by the Tank in 1917. Cartiers reputation as a quality watch producer continued to grow when he produced the water resistant watch especially for the Pasha of Marrakesh. The models Baignoire, Tortue, Tank and Pasha are still in production today.
In 1920, Cartier formed a joint company with Edmond Jaeger (who now owned the famous watch label JaegerLe Coultre) to produce movements exlusively for Cartier watches. The company was called European Watch & Clock Company. They produced movements only for Cartier, but Cartier continued to use movements even from other manufacturers. Cartier watches can be found with movements from Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, Movado and Jaeger LeCoultre.
It was during this period that Cartier began to engrave its own four-digit reference numbers to their watches. Collectors of old Cartier watches refuse to accept a watch as a genuine Cartier watch without these numbers.
Louis Cartier died in 1942, and unfortenately his successors lacked his artistic genious. As a result, the company became financially and artistically stagnant. This continued till 1972, when a group of investors took over the company and made Alain Perrin as its CEO. Alain Perrin, a former antique dealer, launched the Le Must line, and recreated old classics such as the Santos.
Since the takeover, Cartier has restored its position as one of the most exclussive and best manufacturers of jewelry, accessories and watches in the world.