Cartier History

1847, Cartier was founded in Paris by Louis-Francois Cartier, son of a powder horn maker.

1851, Napoleon III came to power and through Countess Nieuwerkerke, the young Cartier was able to become a supplier to the court.

1859, Selling Empress Eugenie a silver tea service, Cartier rented quarters on the Boulevard des Italiens in what was then the most fashionable neighborhood in Paris. Cartier's jewelry was characterized by a light, airy touch in contrast to the overly formal and overwrought ornaments of the period.

1874, Cartier's son Alfred took over the business and expanded it considerably, that included watches, which Louis-Francois had only dabbled.

1899, Alfred's son Louis Cartier entered the firm. Louis Cartier was a great lover of mechanical pocket watches and wanted the company to build its own watches.

1904, Louis Cartier met the Brazilian aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont, who complained of the unreliability of pocket watches in flight. Cartier rose to the challenge, designing a flat wristwatch with a distinctive square bezel. This watch was not only a hit with Santos-Dumont, but also with Cartier's many clients.

1904, Santos design was born. Incredibly enough, this watch is still produced today in much the same form.

1907, Cartier signed a contract with Edmond Jaeger, who agreed to exclusively supply the movements for Cartier watches. By this time, Cartier had branches in London, New York and St. Petersburg and was quickly becoming one of the most successful watch companies in the world.

1912, The introduction of the Baignoire and Tortue watch models, both of which are still in production today.

1917, Tank model debut

1920, Cartier formed a joint company with Edward Jaeger of the famed Jaeger-Le Coultre company, to produce movements solely for Cartier. So were the famed European watch & clock company born, although Cartier continued to use movements from other great makers. Cartier watches can be found with movements from Vacheron Constantin, Audemars-Piguet, Movado and Le-Coultre. 

1921, Cartier began adding its own reference numbers to the watches it sold, usually by stamping a four-digit code on the underside of a lug. In fact, many collectors refuse to accept a Cartier as original, unless these numbers are present.

1932, The watertight watch made especially for the Pasha of Marrakech raised the bar even higher. Needless to say, the innovations, both in terms of design and technology, continued apace.

1942, Louis Cartier died and his successors were unable to continue without his artistic genius. As a result, the company became financially and artistically stagnant.

1972, When a group of investors took over the company and installed Alain Perrin as its CEO, that the company finally regained lost ground. Perrin, a former antique dealer, turned the company around. By developing the Le Must line, as well as creating new versions of classics such as the "Santos", Perrin managed to re-establish Cartier as an innovative and fashionable watchmaker.

Presently Cartier's best-sellers include the classic Tank, the fashionable Tank Francaise, a distinctive sports watch similar in concept to the Santos, the Pasha, which has become a very watch for ladies.

Cartier watches are finished to very high standards. The cases and bracelets in particular are meticulously handcrafted and exude quality in every sense of the word.