The French jeweler and watch manufacturer Cartier has history, tradition, and experience stretching back over more than 160 years. In 1847, 28-year-old Louis-François Cartier took ownership of the Parisian jewelry store run by his mentor, Adolphe Picard. Cartier established himself quickly with his Paris store. A large part of his success was due to his sense for the tastes of his customers.
In 1874, his son Alfred joined the company. He expanded the watchmaking sector of the business with the goal of creating Cartier watches for the home, on necklaces, and as wristwatches. Already in 1888 there were diamond-studded women's watches on display at the Cartier store. With these wristwatches, Cartier proved themselves pioneers in the field. Towards the end of the 19th century, pocket watches were still predominantly being used. In 1893, the company ordered their first batch of watches from Vacheron Constantin. In the beginning, these early wristwatches didn't sell very well as they weren't particularly fashionable. However, as long sleeves and women's gloves became less popular, the naked wrist became the perfect spot for a wristwatch.
Louis Joseph, the son of Alfred and grandson of Louis-François Cartier, married Andrée-Caroline Worth in 1898. She was the heiress to one of the largest fashion studios in Paris and brought know-how as well as a customer list to the table. Just a few years later, she relocated the store to the famous Rue de la Paix, one of Paris's most popular and fashionable shopping streets which entices people from all over the world. Subsequently, Louis Joseph began to cater the business to an international market. He signed a contract with the French watchmaker Edmond Jaeger to supply movements so Cartier could produce and offer new, extravagant women's watches. In 1904, Louis and his brother Pierre traveled to Russia, where they found themselves inspired. In no time at all, the brothers were able to count the Russian imperial family and Russian nobility amongst their customers. Cartier was also very successful in England; so successful, in fact, that they opened a boutique on New Bond Street in London in 1909. Across the English Channel, Cartier was creating a network that would reach all the way to the influential princes on the Indian subcontinent.
Cartier's precious jewelry and watches were highly sought after by kings and nobles worldwide. They established themselves as the official jeweler of the largest royal houses, providing richly decorated tiaras set with gemstones to queens and princesses. Among their clientele were the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, and Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain. This was just one of many reasons the Prince of Wales and later King Edward VII proclaimed the Parisian business the "Jeweler of kings, king of jewelers." This still holds true today; at her wedding to Prince William, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, wore a Cartier tiara that had been previously worn by Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.
The business split into three parts upon the death of Louis Cartier in 1942: Cartier Paris, Cartier London, and Cartier New York. The parts remained separate until the end of the 1970s, when they were brought together as Cartier Monde SA. Today, Cartier belongs to the Richemont Group together with other manufacturers such as Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and A. Lange & Söhne.
- 1847: Louis-François Cartier founds the company
- 1888: The first wristwatches are sold by Cartier
- 1904: The Santos is developed
- 1917: The Tank is developed
- 1931: Waterproof wristwatches are presented
- 1985: Pasha enters series production
- 2007: The Ballon Bleu is introduced
- 2010: Cartier produces their first in-house caliber