The Cartier Wristwatch

Cartier Wristwatch history began when Louis Francois Cartier (1819-1904) decided to follow in the steps of his grandfather, also called Louis Francois Cartier (1755-1793), as a goldsmith. He started his career as apprentice to Adolphe Picard, producing handmade jewelry. When Picard died in 1847, Cartier succeeded him and the company 'Cartier' was founded. By 1853, Louis Francois had become a favorite of Princess Mathilde, the cousin of Napoleon III, who helped him to enter Parisian society.

In 1874 Louis handed over the reigns of the Company to his son, Alfred Cartier (1841-1925) His three sons, Louis, Pierre and Jaques would eventually turn the family business to a global empire. Louis Cartier was not only an outstanding goldsmith, but also an excellent businessman. His ambition was to make Cartier world famous and he subsequently expanded the business, opening a branch in London in 1902 and in New York in 1909. Fifty years later Louis Cartier acquired the most influential clientele in the world including most of the Royal family in Europe, India, Siam and Nepal. Louis Cartier was a handsome and elegant, so very popular man among the Parisian women. One of his important clients was the Prince of Wales, Edward VII, who once described Louis Cartier as "the jeweler of Kings, Kings among jewelers".

Cartier Minute RepeaterAlthough Cartier might be better known for its finest jewelry, the Cartier wristwatch has also made a huge footprint in the history of global watch market. In 1904, Louis Cartier met the Brazilian aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont, who complained how unreliable pocket watches were during his long flights. This inspired Cartier to design a flat Cartier wristwatch with a distinctive square bezel - the 'Santos' was born. This was the first man's wristwatch, which influenced the Parisian aristocracy into accepting the idea of wearing wristwatches instead of pocket watches. In 1907, Cartier signed a contract with Edmond Jaeger, who agreed to solely supply movements for Cartier's wristwatches.

By this time, Cartier became one of the most successful watch companies in the world. It was also during this period that Cartier began adding its own reference number to the watches it sold. Many collectors refuse to accept Cartier as original unless these numbers are shown. In 1912, the Baignoire and Tortue models were launched, followed by the Tank in 1917. In 1932, a watertight watch was made especially for the Pasha of Marrakesh.

Innovation in design and technology continued until 1942, when Louis died and nobody could be found to replace him with the same drive and vision. As a result, the company became financially stagnant. It was only in 1972, when a group of investors took over the company and appointed Alain Perrin as its CEO that Cartier regrouped and regained its position. Perrin developed the "Le Must" line as well as creating new versions of classics such as the "Santos" which again established Cartier once more as a leading fashionable watchmaker. In 1980, Cartier added 100 different models to their line, which enabled tem to remain a step ahead of market demands.

Today the name Cartier wristwatch represents more than just a fashion statement. Their ladies' watches are considered by many to be the most beautiful in the world. Watches such as 'Pasha', represent a class and style of watch unique despite hundreds of competitors’ watches. Cartier is available in a vast range of prices and styles, giving consumers and collectors plenty of options and choices.

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