Cartier was founded in Paris in 1847, by master jeweller Louis-Francois Cartier. The company stayed a family run business for many years, as the pioneering father passed on the company to his son Alfred Cartier in 1874, who then gave the reins to his sons Louis, Pierre and Jacques. It was these three gentlemen who took the family business to a worldwide audience for the first time
Cartier opened its first premises in 1899, in Reu de la Paix, a renowned street in the already highly cosmopolitan city of Paris. The three brothers were looking to build a fashion empire based in the French capital, but able to operate in – and be inspired by – the rest of the world.
The Russian aristocracy were amongst the company’s earliest high-profile admirers, and the first of Cartier’s London shops opened in Bond Street in 1909. The British Branch of the company was taken over by Jacques, who developed relationships with - amongst others - a series of maharajas, who provided gemstones for to be set in Cartier’s modern jewellery, thus beginning Cartier’s lasting relationship with India. Cartier’s New York branch was taken over by Pierre Cartier in 1909, where the brand sold to rich industrialists, as well as stars of Broadway, the silent movies and - later - Hollywood.
The many varying places where Cartier has laid its roots through the years have each enriched the style of the luxury watchmaker’s products, whilst the World-wide popularity of the brand makes it a pioneer not only in watch-making, but in fashion more generally as well.
One of the most famous tales in Cartier’s history is that of its relationship with Alberto Santos-Dumont. A Brazilian aviator, Dumont had once complained that trying to use a pocket watch whilst flying was impractical and almost impossible. This admission lead to the creation of a flat watch with a distinctive square bezel. This would prove to become Cartier’s first - and arguably its most famous ever watch - the world famous Santos.
Since the launch of this famous model, Cartier has released some of the world most iconic watches. Models such as the Roadster, Pasha, Tonneau, Calibre de Cartier and Tank are renowned and sought-after around the World for their combination of class and elegance. In 1907, Cartier signed a contract with Edmond Jaeger of Jaeger Le-Coultre, who were to supply the movements, and went on to produce a range of movements designed solely for Cartier. Despite this, movements used in Cartier watches range in creator, with other high-end luxury brands such as Augemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin known for creating movements in the past.
Since their launch, Cartier designed watches have been small, accurate and stylish, leading to them being worn by some of the World’s most high-profile people, including Princess Diana, Michelle Obama and Yves-Saint Laurent. If you’re looking for a timelessly elegant watch, inspired by many cultures but with an unmistakable sense of French class and style, a Cartier timepiece makes an excellent choice.