Société Cartier designs, manufactures, distributes and sells jewellery and watches. Founded in Paris, France in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier, the company remained under family control until 1964. The company maintains its headquarters in Paris and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Compagnie Financière Richemont SA.
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Cartier is well known for its jewellery and wrist watches, including the “Bestiary” (best illustrated by the Panthère brooch of the 1940s created for Wallis Simpson), the diamond necklace created for Bhupinder Singh the Maharaja of Patiala and the first practical wristwatch, the “Santos,” of 1904.
Cartier has a long history of sales to royalty and celebrities. King Edward VII of England referred to Cartier as “the jeweller of kings and the king of jewellers.” For his coronation in 1902, Edward VII ordered 27 tiaras and issued a royal warrant to Cartier in 1904. Similar warrants soon followed from the courts of Spain, Portugal, Russia, Siam, Greece, Serbia, Belgium, Romania, Egypt, Albania, Monaco, and the House of Orleans.
Louis-François Cartier founded Cartier in Paris in 1847 when he took over the workshop of his master. In 1874, Louis-François’ son Alfred Cartier took over the company, but it was Alfred’s sons Louis, Pierre and Jacques, who were responsible for establishing the brand name worldwide.
Cartier Santos – steel/gold from 1988
In 1904, the Brazilian pioneer aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont complained to his friend Louis Cartier of the unreliability and impracticality of using pocket watches while flying. Cartier designed a flat wristwatch with a distinctive square bezel. This watch was liked by not only Santos-Dumont but also many other customers. Thus the “Santos” was born. This was Cartier’s first men’s wristwatch.
Mackay emerald and diamond necklace, 168 carats Muzo, Colombia, 1931.
Louis retained responsibility for the Paris branch, moving to the Rue de la Paix in 1899. He was responsible for some of the company’s most celebrated designs, like the mystery clocks (a type of clock with a transparent dial and so named because its mechanism is hidden), fashionable wristwatches and exotic orientalist Art Deco designs, including the colorful “Tutti Frutti” jewels.
In 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. The Baignoire and Tortue models (both of which are still in production today) were introduced in 1912, followed by the Tank model in 1917. This, designed by Louis Cartier, was inspired from the newly introduced tanks on the Western Front. This line too has survived, with over thirty varieties made since.
In the early 1920s, Cartier formed a joint company with Edward Jaeger (of Jaeger-LeCoultre) to produce movements solely for Cartier. Thus was the European watch and clock company born, although Cartier continued to use movements from other makers. Cartier watches can be found with movements from Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, Movado and LeCoultre. It was also during this period that 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. Jacques took charge of the London operation and eventually moved to the current address at New Bond Street.
Pierre Cartier established the New York City branch in 1909, moving in 1917 to 653 Fifth Avenue, the Neo-Renaissance mansion of Morton Freeman Plant (son of railroad tycoon Henry B. Plant) and designed by architect C.P.H. Gilbert. Cartier acquired the mansion from the Plants in exchange for $100 in cash and a double-stranded natural pearl necklace valued at the time at $1 million.
Among the Cartier team was Charles Jacqueau, who joined Louis Cartier in 1909 for the rest of his life, and Jeanne Toussaint, who was Director of Fine Jewellery from 1933. After the death of Pierre in 1964, Jean-Jacques Cartier (Jacques’s son), Claude Cartier (Louis’s son), and Marionne Claudelle (Pierre’s daughter) — who respectively headed the Cartier affiliates in London, New York and Paris — sold the businesses.
Bismarck sapphire necklace (1935), now at National Museum of Natural History US.
In 1972, a group of investors led by Joseph Kanoui bought Cartier Paris. President Robert Hocq, who created the phrase “Les Must de Cartier” (a staff member is said to have said “Cartier, It’s a must!” meaning something one simply must have) with Alain Dominique Perrin, General Director, began introducing new products. In 1974 and 1976 respectively, the group repurchased Cartier London and Cartier New York. In 1979, the Cartier interests were combined, “Cartier Monde” uniting and controlling Cartier Paris, London and New York.
Cartier merged in 1981 with “Les Must de Cartier”, and Perrin was appointed Chairman of Cartier SAA and Cartier International. The next year, Micheline Kanoui assumed responsibility for jewellery design and launched her first collection “Nouvelle Joaillerie”. In 1984, Perrin founded the “Fondation Cartier pour l’art Contemporain” (the Cartier Foundation of Contemporary Art) to bring Cartier into the twenty-first century, by forming an association with living artists.
In 1986, the French Ministry for Culture appointed Perrin head of the “Mission sur le mecenat d’entreprise” (a commission to study business patronage of the arts). Two years later, Cartier acquired a majority holding in Piaget and Baume & Mercier. In 1989/1990 the Musee du Petit Palais staged the first major exhibition of the Cartier collection, “l’Art de Cartier”.
Perrin founded an international committee in 1991, Comite International de la Haute Horlogerie, to organise its first salon, held on 15 April 1991. This has become an annual meeting place in Geneva for professionals. The next year, the second great exhibition of “l’Art de Cartier” was held at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. In 1993, the “Vendome Luxury Group” was formed as an umbrella company to combine Cartier, Alfred Dunhill, Montblanc, Piaget, Baume & Mercier, Karl Lagerfeld, Chloé, Sulka, Hackett, Seeger.
In 1994, the Cartier Foundation moved to the Rive Gauche and opened a headquarters in a building designed for it by Jean Nouvel. Following the accidental death of Robert Hocq in December of that year, his sister, Brigitte Hocq, became chairman. Joseph Kanoui became vice president of Cartier Monde. The next year, a major exhibition of the Cartier Antique Collection was held in Asia. In 1996, the Lausanne Hermitage Foundation in Switzerland hosted the exhibition “Splendours of the Jewellery”, presenting a hundred and fifty years of products by Cartier. As of 2012, Cartier is owned, through Richemont, by the South African Rupert family and 24-year-old who is the granddaughter of Pierre Cartier, Elle Pagels.
A Cartier store in Paris.
Cartier is in the former Morton F. Plant House on Fifth Avenue in New York
Fifth Avenue, New York, 2013
Cartier Store in the Beirut Central District, Lebanon
Cartier operates more than 200 stores in 125 countries, with three Temples (Historical Masion) world-wide:
Paris – 13, Rue de la Paix
London – 175-177 New Bond Street
New York – 653 Fifth Avenue
In September 2008, Cartier opened its first flagship store in Seoul, South Korea, named Cartier Maison located in Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, with its facade inspired by Korean Bojagi wrapping cloth. Helmed by Managing Director Philippe Galtie, he said at the time of opening that it was the seventh largest in the world.
Amulette de Cartier
Panthère de Cartier
Paris Nouvelle Vague
Trinity de Cartier
Justen un Clou
Diamants Legers de Cartier
Caresse d’orchidées par Cart
C de Cartier
Cartier Fauna and Flora
Links and Chains
Hearts and Symbols
Ballon Bleu de Cartier
Calibre de Cartier
Cle de Cartier
Santos de Cartier
Ronde Croisiere de Cartier
Ronde Louis Cartier
Ronde Solo de Cartier
Pasha de Cartier
Ballon Bleu de Cartier
Cle de Cartier
Pasha de Cartier
Santos de Cartier
Creative Jeweled Watches
Ronde Louis Cartier
Ronde Solo de Cartier
Women’s Small Leather Goods
Men’s Small Leather Goods
1847 – Louis-François Cartier inherited the jewellery workshop at 29, Rue Montorgueil in Paris from his master Adolphe Picard, founding the house of Cartier.
1856 – Princess Mathilde, niece of Napoleon I and cousin to Emperor Napoleon III, made her first purchase from Cartier.
1859 – Cartier moved the workshop to 9, Boulevard des Italiens. Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III and regent of France, became a Cartier client.
1888 – Creation of the first ladies jewellery bracelet-watch.
1899 – Cartier moved into the its present-day headquarters at 13, Rue de la Paix.
1900 – Introduction of various styles of neoclassical jewellery mounted in platinum, which became exceptionally popular amongst aristocrats.
1902 – Cartier opened a new shop at 4 New Burlington Street in London, on the same day as the coronation of King Edward VII.
1904 – Cartier received its first appointment as official purveyor to King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. His consort, Queen Alexandra bought a necklace designed with Indian influence. Later that year, Cartier received another appointment as the purveyor for King Alfronso XIII of Spain. The first Santos watch was created by Louis Cartier, as he designed a watch to be worn on wrist with a leather strap for his friend Alberto Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian aviator.
1905 – Appointment as the official purveyor for King Carlos I of Portugal.
1906 – The creation of first jewellery design to incorporate the Art Deco style,characterised by its abstract and geometric variations. The first Tonneau wristwatch was also created this year.
1907 – Cartier held its first exhibition and sale in Saint Petersburg, at the Grand Hotel Europe. Shortly after, it was appointed as official purveyor to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
1908 – Appointment as official purveyor to King Chulalongkorn of Siam.
1909 – Second shop in London was opened at 175-176 New Bond Street in London. Pierre Cartier later opened a second shop in New York as well, at 712 Fifth Avenue. A folding buckle for wristwatches was patented in this year.
1910 – Pierre Cartier sold the blue Hope Diamond to an American customer, Evalyn Walsh McLean.
1911 – Official launch of the Santos de Cartier wristwatch, inspired by the 1904 model. Jacque Cartier travelled to India to attend the Delhi Durbar, and to the Persian Gulf.
1912 – Creation of the first mystery clock: Model A. A delegation from the City of Paris presented Tsar Nicholas II with the Cartier Imperial Egg (now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York). The first baguette-cut diamonds made an appearance. Launch of the Tortue watch. The first comet clocks were created.
1913 – Appointment as official purveyor to King Peter I of Serbia.
1914 – The bezel on a lady’s round wrist watch was paved with diamonds and onyx to create the first “panther” motif. Appointment as official purveyor to Duke Philippe of Orleans.
1917 – The New York store moved to 653 Fifth Avenue, previously the home of Morton F. Plant, which Pierre Cartier bought in exchange for a double-strand necklace of 55 and 73 natural pearls. First studies conducted for the Tank watch.
1918 – Creation of batons for Field-Marshals Foch and Pétain.
1919 – Launch of the Tank watch. Establishment, in New York, of the European Watch & Clock Co. Inc. Appointment as official purveyor to King Albert I of Belgium.
1921 – Appointment as official purveyor to the Prince of Wales, future King Edward VIII who, on abdicating in 1936, became the Duke of Windsor. Creation of the Tank cintrée watch.
1922 – Creation of the Tank Louis Cartier and Tank Chinoise watches.
1923 – Creation of the first portico mystery clock, crowned with a statuette called Billiken.
1924 – Creation of the three-band ring and bracelet combining gold in three colours, known in the United States as Trinity. Jean Cocteau adopted the ring and made it fashionable among Parisian society.
1924 – Queen Marie of Romania wears a Cartier tiara created to resemble the Russian kokoshnik for her portrait painted by Philip de László.
1925 – Cartier made a memorable appearance at the International Exhibition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in Paris, in the Pavillon de l’Élégance. Death of Alfred Cartier.
1926 – Creation of the Baguette watch. Cartier jewellery in its red box appeared on the Broadway stage in Anita Loos’ play Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
1928 – Marjorie Merriweather Post bought from Cartier in London earrings once worn by Queen Marie-Antoinette of France. Creation of the Tortue single pushpiece chronograph watch.
1929 – Appointment as official purveyor to King Fouad I of Egypt and participation in the Exhibition of French Arts in Cairo. Creation of the Tank à guichets watch.
1931 – Creation of the mystery pocket watch.
1932 – Creation of the Tank basculante watch.
1933 – Jeanne Toussaint was made head of Cartier Fine Jewellery. Cartier filed a patent for the “invisible mount”, a stone-setting technique in which the metal of the mount disappears to show only the stones.
1935 – Cartier opened in Monte Carlo.
1936 – Creation of the Tank asymétrique watch.
1938 – Cartier opened in Cannes. One of the smallest wristwatches in the world, by Cartier, was given to Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom.
1939 – Appointment as official purveyor to King Zog I of Albania.
1940 – General de Gaulle founded the Free France movement in London, for which he received Cartier’s steadfast support. Some of his speeches were written in the office which Jacques Cartier placed at the general’s disposal.
1942 – Creation of the “Caged Bird” brooch as a symbol of the Occupation. In 1944, Cartier created the “Freed Bird” to celebrate the Liberation of France.
1945 – Pierre Cartier was now the head of Cartier Paris. Claude, Louis’ son, took the helm of Cartier New York while Jean-Jacques Cartier, Jacques’ son, was the head of Cartier London.
1947 – Cartier celebrated its centennial.
1949 – The Duke and Duchess of Windsor bought a platinum panther brooch on a 152.35-carat (30.470 g) Kashmir cabochon sapphire in Paris. Cartier would buy the brooch for its own collection in 1987.
1950 – Creation of a watch in the form of a ship’s wheel. The Hollywood actress Gloria Swanson appeared in Sunset Boulevard wearing the two diamond and rock crystal bracelets that she had bought from Cartier in 1930.
1953 – Marilyn Monroe sang “Cartier!” in the film version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
1954 – Creation for the Duchess of Windsor of a lorgnette in yellow gold, black enamel and emeralds representing a tiger.
1955 – Creation of Jean Cocteau’s sword for his election to the Académie française, to the artist’s own design.
1956 – For her marriage to Prince Rainier, Princess Grace received numerous gifts of jewellery by Cartier including her engagement ring, set with a 12-carat (2.4 g) emerald-cut diamond.
1957 – Barbara Hutton bought a tiger brooch in yellow gold,onyx and jonquil diamonds.
1967 – Creation of new watches in London including the Crashwatch.
1968 – The Mexican actress María Félix commissioned Cartier to make a diamond necklace in the form of a serpent. Cartier granted Robert Hocq a licence to create an oval lighter with a retractable wheel under the Cartier name. Creation of the Maxi Oval watch.
1969 – Robert Kenmore, the chairman of Cartier’s parent company, acquired a 69.42-carat (13.884 g) pear-shaped diamond which it sold to Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. The Cartier Diamond was thus renamed the Taylor-Burton Diamond. Opening of Cartier in Geneva. Creation of the Love bracelet.
1970 – Opening of Cartier in Hong Kong.
1971 – Opening of Cartier in Munich.
1972 – Cartier Paris was taken over by a group of investors led by Joseph Kanoui.
1973 – Creation of Les Must de Cartier by Robert Hocq with Alain-Dominique Perrin.
1974 – Launch of the first leather collection in burgundy. Cartier loaned a large part of its Art Deco jewellery collection for the filming of The Great Gatsby.
1975 – Cartier celebrated the centenary anniversary of the birth of Louis Cartier. Opening in Monte Carlo of the first major retrospective, “Louis Cartier: Art Deco Masterpieces”.
1976 – First collection of Les Must de Cartier vermeil watches. Retrospective in New York titled “Retrospective Louis Cartier: One Hundred and One Years of the Jeweller’s Art”. Creation of the first oval pen. The Cartier name appears on a “designer” edition of Ford’s Lincoln Continental Mark IV for 1976, and would continue on through the 2003 model year.
1978 – Creation of the Santos de Cartier watch with a gold and steel bracelet. Creation of the first Cartier scarf collection.
1979 – Cartier Paris, Cartier London and Cartier New York were united as a single legal entity.
1981 – Launch of the Must de Cartier and Santos de Cartier perfumes.
1982 – Launch of the first New Jewellery collection on the theme of gold and stones.
1983 – Creation of the Collection Ancienne Cartier (later the Cartier Collection) to record and illustrate how the jeweller’s art and its history have evolved. Creation of the Panthère de Cartier watch.
1984 – Launch of the second New Jewellery collection on the theme of gold and pearls. Creation of the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain in Jouy-en-Josas. Cartier became partner to the International Polo Tournament in Windsor, United Kingdom.
1985 – Launch of the Pasha de Cartier watch.
1986 – Launch of the third New Jewellery collection on the theme of the panther.
1987 – Launch of the Panthère de Cartier perfume. Creation of Les Maisons de Cartier tableware (porcelain, crystal and silver).
1988 – Launch of the fourth New Jewellery collection on the theme of Egypt.
1989 – Launch of the Tank Américaine watch. The Art of Cartier, the first major retrospective in Paris, was held at the Petit Palais.
1991 – Establishment of the Comité International de la Haute Horlogerie (CIHH). The first Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) was held in Geneva.
1992 – “The Art of Cartier” exhibition was held at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.
1994 – The Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain moved to the Left Bank in Paris to a building on Boulevard Raspail, the work of the architect Jean Nouvel.
1995 – Creation of the Pasha C watch in steel. Launch of the So Pretty de Cartier perfume. “The Art of Cartier, the World of French Jewellery Art” exhibition was held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum in Japan.
1996 – Creation of the Tank Française watch collection. Launch of the sixth New Jewellery collection on the theme of Creation. Creation of the Tank ring. “Cartier, Splendours of Jewellery”, a retrospective exhibition, was held at the Hermitage Foundation in Lausanne, Switzerland.
1997 – Cartier celebrated its 150th anniversary with exceptional Fine Jewellery creations including a necklace in the form of a serpent, paved with diamonds and set with two pear-cut emeralds of 205 and 206 carats (41.2 g). The “Cartier 1900-1939” retrospective was held at the British Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
1998 – Creation of the Collection Privée Cartier Paris Fine Watch collection.
1999 – Creation of the Paris Nouvelle Vague Cartier jewellery collection, inspired by Paris. “The Art of Cartier, A splendor of Time” retrospective was held at the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City with guest of honour the Mexican actress María Félix. The “Cartier 1900-1939” exhibition moved to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
2000 – Creation of a jewellery collection to take Cartier into the 21st century.
2001 – Creation of the Délices de Cartier jewellery collection. Launch of the Roadster watch. Cartier displayed the ceremonial necklace made for the Maharajah of Patiala at the 21st Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris. The intersection of Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street in New York is temporarily named “Place de Cartier” to celebrate restoration and reopening of the Cartier Mansion.
2002 – Creation of the Tank Divan watch. The “Cartier Design viewed by Sottsass” exhibition was shown at the Vitra Design Museum in Berlin and the Palazzo Reale in Milan. It would later travel to the Daigoji Temple in Kyoto and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.
2003 – Launch of the Le Baiser du Dragon and Les Délices de Goa jewellery collections. The Kimberley Process was implemented and Cartier immediately adopted measures to end trade in conflict diamonds. Cartier contributed to the “Jean Cocteau, Spanning the Century” exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Cartier opened a shop at 154, Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris. The intersection of Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street in New York was officially named “Place de Cartier”.
2004 – Marking the centenary of the Santos de Cartier watch, creation of the Santos 100, Santos Demoiselle and Santos-Dumont watches. Cartier presented “The Art of Cartier”, a retrospective exhibition at the Shanghai Museum. Presentation of the Star of the South Diamond at the 22nd Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris.
2005 – Creation of the Caresse d’Orchidées par Cartier Fine Jewellery collection. Creation of a bespoke perfume service at 13, rue de la Paix. Cartier co-founded the Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices. Cartier became an active member of the Women’s Forum.
2006 – Creation of the La Doña de Cartier watch. The first “Love Charity” international fundraising sale was held. Cartier presented a special award for female business entrepreneurs at the Women’s Forum.
2007 – Creation of the Inde Mystérieuse Fine Jewellery collection. Creation of the Ballon Bleu de Cartierwatch. The “Cartier 1899-1949, The Journey of a Style” exhibition was held at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Museum in Lisbon. The “Cartier, Innovation through the 20th Century” exhibition was held at the Kremlin Museum in Moscow.
2008 – “The Art of Cartier” at the National Museum of art, Deoksugung, of Seoul Creation of the Ballon bleu watch.
2009 – “Story of…. Memories of Cartier creation” exhibition, by Tokujin Yoshioka, at the Tokyo National Museum. Creation of the Santos 100 Skeletonwatch “Cartier Treasures- King of Jewellers, Jewellers to Kings” exhibition at the Palace Museum, Beijing. Creation of the “Secrets et Merveilles” Fine Jewellery collection “Cartier and America” exhibition at The Legion of Honor – Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
2011 – “Cartier TIME ART” exhibition art-directed by Tokujin Yoshioka. It was held at Museum Bellerive in Zurich 2011, and at Art Science Museum in Singapore in 2011-2012.
2012 – Cartier announced the international release of its new “L’Odyssee de Cartier,” a three-and-one-half minute film showing Cartier’s 165-year history. The film, directed by Bruno Aveillan, was screened for the first time at a premiere hosted by Cartier at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on 29 February 2012.
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