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The History of Cartier

Cartier Louis-Francois Cartier took over the jewelry workshop of his master, Adolphe Picard, at 29, Rue Montorgueil in 1847. Due to his success he decided to move to a new establishment in the Rue Neuve-des-Petits-Champs, and then to the Boulevard des Italiens.

Paris was in the whirlwind of festivities and luxury which characterized the Second Empire. Princess Mathilde, a first cousin of Napoléon III, gave Louis-François Cartier a prestigious clientele, attracted to Paris by the 1867 Universal Exhibition.
The international elite was seduced by the brilliance of the creations of “a jeweler unlike any other”. Alfred Cartier, Louis-François Cartier’s son, helped his father. He was a clever businessman, an expert in precious stones, who quickly acquired fame throughout Europe.
A long friendship with the couturier C. F. Worth was beneficial for Alfred Cartier’s fame, and his eldest son Louis-Joseph married the Worth granddaughter and established a shop at 13, Rue de la Paix in 1898.
Russian nobility and eastern aristocracy became passionate devotees of the Cartier art and style. Every royal family visited the salons; the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, proclaimed Cartier “Jeweller of Kings and King of Jewelers” and encouraged the establishment of Cartier London in 1902 under the responsibility of Jacques-Theodule Cartier, the younger son.
Louis Cartier created jewels and “objets d’art”, but he also retook watchmaking traditions which had been lost for over a century with pieces like the legendary mystery clocks, high fashion wristwatches, carriage clocks and jewelry watches with oriental Art Deco designs, including the daringly colorful “Tutti Frutti” jewels.
The accessory timepiece became one of the predominant forms of the activity and prestige of Cartier.
Quite early, Cartier took an interest in watchmaking. It was not long before a large number of fob and chatelaine watches appeared. In 1888 Cartier account books mentioned the first ladies’ wristwatches. In 1904, he created the Santos watch for his friend and client the Brazilian aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont, although it did not go on sale until 1911. This success was to be followed by other models such as the Tonneau watch (1906) and the Tortue watch (1912).
By that date, Louis Cartier had begun the exclusive production of the first wristwatches at his establishment in Paris helped by Edmond Jaeger.
The third Maison Cartier, for which Pierre-Camille, the second son, was responsible, was founded in New York in 1909, moving to its current location of 653 Fifth Avenue in 1917.
After the First World War, Louis, with innate intuition, predicted the manners of a reborn woman during the period known “La Belle Époque”. Soon, the international elite returned to the salons in the Rue de la Paix, New Bond Street, and the Fifth Avenue. vThe Cartier Tank watch was introduced in 1919 and became Cartier’s most famous model. Louis
Cartier was inspired by the tough new war machine the Americans introduced to the fighting in Europe, the tank, to design a rugged yet beautiful watch that became a classic.
The early Cartier men’s wristwatches were all handmade in France, with movements by Jaeger, Cartier Paris and the European Watch and Clock Co, who manufactured complicated movements such as chronographs, minute repeaters, and digital wristwatches.
Louis Cartier achieved innovation, supported by the exceptional people who worked with him, who were joined by Jeanne Toussaint, who conducted the “S” department, a prefiguration of the “Les Must de Cartier”, which brought out original creations in enamel, silver and leather.

Cartier had a substantial influence in persuading the Parisian aristocracy to accept the idea of wristwatches for men, though the classic pocket watch was considered the only timepiece a gentleman should carry.
Louis Cartier undeniably laid the foundations of a new concept in luxury goods.
In 1925, the “Exposition des Arts Décoratifs” assured Cartier’s superiority in all the disciplines which made his fame.
The Wall Street crash in 1929 marked the beginning of austerity in design.
Louis Cartier entrusted Jeanne Toussaint with the responsibility for Haute Joaillerie (high jewelry design) from 1933 on. She controlled a universe of lapidaries, stone setters and designers. Under the influence of the Orient, she brought gold back to the reigning fashion. That same year Cartier obtained the patent for the “invisible setting” (called “serti mysterieux”).
When the Second World War began, Louis Cartier left France and Jeanne Toussaint took over in the interim at 13, Rue de la Paix. Two creations demonstrated just how she proved to be the perfect alter ego of Louis Cartier: the “oiseau en cage”, the symbol of the occupation, then the “oiseau liberé”.
Louis Cartier and Jacques died within six months of each other in 1942. Pierre died in Switzerland in 1964. With the death of the three brothers, the Cartier Empire split up.
In 1968, Robert Hocq, the first maker in the world of gas cigarette lighters, created a luxury lighter which he licensed under the brand name of Cartier. It quickly revolutionized the market.
Four years later, a group of investors brought together by Joseph Kanoui took control of Cartier Paris and placed Robert Hocq as President. Hocq was fascinated by the past of this fabulous Maison, and became immersed in it, but at the same time brought a breath of youth and modernism in the organization and its new creations.
In 1973, he finished “Les Must de Cartier” in cooperation with Alain Dominique Perrin, who was then in charge of the Cartier lighter, and to whom he gave the responsibility of the development and management. That same year, the first “Must de Cartier” boutique was opened in Biarritz, followed by one in Singapore.
The Cartier watch created to honour the aviator Santos Dumont was redesigned in 1978 and t was redesigned in 1978 and called Santos de Cartier. 1979 saw the historic culmination of the reunification of Cartier’s interests throughout the world, with the creation of Cartier Monde, reuniting and controlling Cartier Paris, Cartier London and Cartier New York. After the accidental death of Robert Hocq in December of the same year, Joseph Kanoui was appointed Chairman of Cartier Monde.
During the 1980’s Cartier added approximately 100 different models to its line and always remained one step ahead of the competition. Cartier’s first perfume was created in 1981: Must de Cartier. In 1982, Micheline Kanoui assumed responsibility for jewellery design and launched her first collect ion “Nouvelle Joaillerie”.
In 1984, Alain Dominique Perrin founded the “Fondation Cartier pour l’art Contemporain” (the Cartier Foundation of Contemporary Art) by forming an association between th e firm and living artists.
The next year as a tribute to power, Cartier create d the Cart ier Pasha watch.
The Cartier group purchased the greater part of Piaget and Baume & Mercier holdings in 1988 and, in 1989, saw the triumph of the first great “l’Art de Cartier” exhib ition at the Petit Palais.
In 1991, aiming to increase the influence of High Watchmaking, Alain Dominque Perrin established an international foundation, “Comite International de la Haute Horlogerie”. In April that same year the 1st Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie was held. This place in Geneva became the annual meeting point for professionals in High Watchmaking, which now cou nts 1 6 watchmaking brands.
In 1992, Cartier held its second great “l’Art de Cartier” exhibition at the Hermitage museum in Saint Petersburg. The same year the publication of the book entitled ‘l´Objet Cartier” bore witness to the wealth and diversity of the objects created by Car tier for almost 150 years.
October 1993 saw the creation of the “Vendôme Luxury Group” bringing together the brands of Cartier, Alfred Dunhill, Montblanc, Piaget, Baume & Mercier, Karl Lagerfeld, Chloé, Sulka, Hackett, Seeger, and J ames Purdey and Sons.
In 1994, the Cartier Foundation moved to the Rive Gauche and opened their new headquarters, an architectural work of art designed for them by t he ar chitect, Jean Nouvel.
In 1995 the Cartier Pasha C watch was created to celebrate the 10th anniversar y of the Pasha de Cartier.
1996 was a very important year for Cartier. The Cartier Tank Francaise watch was created.
Cartier began the new century: the Cartier Roadster watch was born in 2002 and, in 2004, Cartier creates the Cartier Santos 100 watch to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Cartier Santos watch created by Louis Cartier in 1904. Finally in 2005, the Cartier Pasha 42mm watch was introduced.
Shaped watches, simple or complication watches, all evoke a know-how and love of the craft that the jeweller-watchmaker has always succeeded in renewing and enriching. Watches that go down in history, forming the heritage of a Maison that is recognised throughout the world and that seems to em body an eternal aesthetic.
For the future, Cartier wishes to develop and nurture its specific style, and perpetuate its unique expertise.

Filed under: Brands History, cartier, Cartier History, Cartier Watch, luxury watches, Ref.

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