Louis Francois Cartier, a famed French watchmaker, first formed the company producing Cartier watches in 1847. He was the Master Jeweler for the royal families of Europe. Although he was not the first to develop the wristwatch, it was his designs that helped it gain popularity in the early decades of the 20th century. The first wristwatch he produced was called the Santos. He designed this in 1904 for his friend Alberto Santos-Dumant of Brazil and was the first wristwatch designed especially for men. These watches went on the market in 1911.
Together with his sons, Cartier continued to develop watches and the Cartier name became known all over the world. His grandson, of the same name, joined the company in 1899 and with his marketing experience made the brand a household name. A Cartier store opened in New York in 1909, and two new stores, one in Moscow and the other in the Persian Gulf, opened in 1910. The success of each store led to new stores opening in such places as Hong Kong, Cannes, Monte Carlo and Geneva. Two of the models introduced to the market in 1912 are still sold today – the Baignoire and the Tortue.
A new wristwatch model, the Tank, was created in 1917. It was at this time that the company started adding reference numbers to each watch, which is a four-digit number stamped on the underside of the watch. This is a guarantee of authenticity used by watch collectors.
Just about every decade of the 1900’s saw a new model of Cartier watch on the market. Recent additions include the Panthiere in 1983 and the Tank Francaise in 1996. Older models, such as Pasha, Roadster and Santos 100, have also been revived and improved upon.
Watches by Cartier include movements from many famous watch manufacturers such as Coulter, Movado and Piquet. The types of movements include quartz, mechanical manual winding and mechanical automatic winding. There are watches for both men and women in virtually every model.