Cartier:

Jeweler of Kings

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Alfred Cartier and his three sons. From left to right: Pierre, Louis and Jacques. (1922).

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Santos Wristwatch – Cartier Paris, 1915
Made by Jaeger marked on the dial: Cartier Case of polished and satin-finish gold, raised bezel of polished gold with 8 screws. Beaded winding crown capped with a sapphire cabochon. Leather strap, deployant buckle of yellow and pink gold. Square grained-silver dial with Roman numerals around a “railroad” minute track. Breguet hands of blued steel. Round LeCoultre caliber 126 movement, Côtes de Genève decoration, silver-plated, 8 adjustments, 18 jewels, Swiss lever escapement, bimetallic balance, Breguet balance spring.
Photo credits: Nick Welsh, Cartier Collection © Cartier


Exceptional talent

As a brilliant young designer, Louis-Francois Cartier officially founded Cartier in Paris in 1847 when he took over the workshop of his master. At the time, Paris was being introduced to the Industrial Revolution, which helped usher in the city’s largest transformation in 1852 with the Second Empire under Napoleon III. The accompanying prosperity created a boon in the Paris jewelry industry. Cartier fortunately got the recommendation of Princess Mathilde, the young cousin of Napoleon III, growing his business exponentially. By 1902 Cartier had already established locations in Paris, London and New York, the latter gradually becoming Cartier’s international headquarters.

While Cartier had developed a reputation as an exquisite jewelry maker, in 1904 a chance conversation steered the Cartier Empire toward a new milieu. 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. The trend of wearing a “wrist watch” took hold, and the “Santos” – Cartier’s first men’s wristwatch – was born. It is a testament to Cartier’s business acumen that in just 5 more years, the jeweler would become one of the most successful watch companies in the world.

Cartier Throughout history
Of course, throughout this period and beyond, Cartier has 
maintained the highest reputation as a purveyor of fine jewels and jewelry. And during the next 50 years, almost annually, Cartier has unveiled a masterpiece.
Notable dates include:
1906. Cartier jewelry was the first to incorporate the Art Deco style, characterized by its abstract and geometric variations. Just one year later, Cartier held its first exhibition and sale in Saint Petersburg, at the Grand Hotel Europe.
1907. Appointed as official purveyor to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
1924. Creation of the three-band ring and bracelet combining gold in three colors, known in the U.S. as “Trinity.” Jean Cocteau adopted the ring and made it fashionable among Parisian society.
1933. Cartier developed the “invisible mount,” a stone-setting technique in which the metal of the mount disappears to show only the stones.
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.
1950. Gloria Swanson appeared in “Sunset Boulevard” wearing the two diamond and rock crystal bracelets that she had purchased from Cartier in 1930.
1953. Marilyn Monroe sang “Cartier!” in the film version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
1969. Cartier acquired a 69.42-carat (13.88 g) pear-shaped diamond which it sold to Richard Burton. He gave it to Elizabeth Taylor. The Cartier Diamond was thus renamed the Taylor-Burton.
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.”
1997. Cartier celebrated its 150th anniversary with exceptional 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.
2012. Cartier announced the international 
release of “L’Odyssee de Cartier,” a three-and-one-half minute film showcasing Cartier’s 
165-year history.
Cartier recently opened a new Watch Espace in Weston Jewelers located in the Weston Town Center.  Please turn to Page 144 to see three stunning vintage Cartier watches that are currently available at Weston Jewelers.

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