Now a name synonymous with top-quality jewellery, Cartier was founded in 1847 in Paris by Louis-Francois Cartier. It was Louis’s grandsons Louis, Pierre and Jacques who were really responsible for establishing the brand as a worldwide name - The first shop opened in Paris is 1899, followed by London in 1902 and New York in 1909. Always the favourite of royalty, the brand was the choice of Russian aristocracy, Maharajahs and King Edward VII, who issued them with a royal warrant in 1904. Up to this point, the company had produced brooch watches (chatelaines) and pocket watches, many elaborately enamelled to look like jewellery. In 1904, Louis Cartier designed the firm’s first wristwatch for his friend Alberto Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian pioneer aviator; the elegant design and square face of the ‘Santos’ became an instant success. Cartier continued to go from strength to strength, introducing many other innovations, and to this day the company is still at the forefront of watch design.
The name ‘Cartier’ has always stood for quality and luxury, and watches are still a popular choice with collectors as they’re both decorative and practical. Examples of the company’s classic designs, such as the Santos, Baignoire, Tonneau, Tortue and Tank (with a linked metal strap reminiscent of the tread of a military vehicle) are all sought after, as are designs with from the famous Panthère range which included jewellery as well as watches. Cartier watches remain very collectible, with condition and rarity being driving factors when determining cost. As it was the brand of choice of many Hollywood celebrities and other influential people, any proven links with famous owners will add to the value, as will original packaging or cases.
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