Perhaps a surprise to many, but in 2022 Cartier was the world's second-highest-rated watch brand in terms of revenue. Only Rolex was above them. And why is this a surprise? Well, many associate Cartier with jewelry such as rings and necklaces. Their watch segment has always been secondary to jewelry until recent years.
Do you own a Cartier watch that you've perhaps bought yourself or inherited? At Value My Stuff, we have world-leading watch experts that can appraise all Cartier watches – both new and vintage. Read more about Cartier Watch Appraisals below.
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Cartier was founded in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier, a talented and passionate Parisian watchmaker who took over the workshop after his master, Adolphe Picard. Louis Cartier was praised by his clients for his commitment and the ability to listen to their needs, producing and delivering products of the highest quality tailored to their liking. After all, he was marketing as a specialist in "imaginative jewelry, fashion, and novelty items." In 1872 Louis's son Alfred joined the business, and two years later, he was running the shop. By then, the Cartier shop became a family business, and Alfred's three sons (Louis, Pierre, and Jaques) were all trained jewelers.
While Cartier was very successful in France, for decades now selling jewels and watches to French aristocrats, Alfred was thinking of international expansion and sent his sons on a mission. Pierre was sent to Russia to study the success of Fabergé and to search for business opportunities, including seeking out jewelers being able to cut hard stones. He was then sent to New York and opened a store on Fifth Avenue in 1909. Jaques went to London, where he also opened Cartier's first shop on New Burlington Street in 1902. Louis, Alfred's eldest son, chose to stay in Paris and engaged in the affairs of the already-known territory.
It was in 1904 when Louis Cartier developed their first-ever wristwatch. The watch was a request of the Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. And so, the legend was born.
Read more: Cartier, a jewelry to love
Like all luxury watches, the watch always comes with original documentation stating the serial number, production year, and other information about the watch. Cartier isn’t an exception. However, when it comes to vintage watches, it’s normal that the watch is missing the original papers. It’s still fully possible to authenticate the watch without the paper. The most reliable way to authenticate a Cartier is simply to take it to an official Cartier retailer. A watchmaker will open the watch to see the inside and determine that everything is correct and in accordance with Cartier’s high standards. Although forgers can fake a watch’s appearance, it’s impossible for them to fake the movement inside the watch, especially if it’s of such high quality such as Cartier. The same could be said for watches by Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, and Lange & Söhne.
Value My Stuff is an excellent alternative to appraise Cartier watches. The appraisal is done by world-leading watch experts, and the valuation is always up-to-date with an international standard. To get your Cartier watch appraised, follow these simple steps.
The vast majority of new Cartier watches have retail prices between $3,000 to $12,000. At the higher end, they offer watches for several hundreds of thousands of dollars. In general, what makes the big difference is the material and if the watch has precious stones. At the lower end, Cartier offers elegant steel watches on leather bands.
The most expensive Cartier watch ever sold at caution went for $2 million dollars. It was a Phoenix Décor “Secret Watch''. The name says it all – the watch's face was very tiny, and it’s nearly impossible to even consider this to be a watch instead of a bracelet with a total of 80.13 carats!
If we only look at “real” watches, then the most expensive Cartier watch is a yellow gold 1967 Cartier Crash that sold at auction for $1.5 million dollars. Next in line is the Unicorn Cheich that went for $1.1 million dollars. The watch was only made in four examples and targeted Arab buyers. Another high-end Cartier watch is the stunning $800,000 diamond studded Extra Large Ballon Bleu with a tourbillon.
In recent years, the Cartier Crash has become one of the world's most sought-after high-end watches. Cartier is very keen on only making the watch in a very limited number, which has made the Crash one of the most difficult watches to buy. Other well-regarded Cartier models are Tank and Santos. Both come in different variations, such as Tank Francaise, Tank Americaine, Tank Must, Santos-Dumont, etc.
Value My Stuff offers packages for customers with more than one item to appraise. The bigger the package, the bigger the discount.
Pretty much all watch brands have one model that stands above all others. In the case of Cartier, it must be the classic Cartier Tank. The squared icon is often seen with a leather band, but it also comes in other variations, such as bracelets in steel, gold, and also steel and gold mix. The Tank is a favorite among celebrities. The list can be long, but how about Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Kennedy, and Andy Warhol? The latter has famously said: "I don't wear a Tank to tell the time. In fact, I never wind it. I wear a Tank because it's the watch to wear."
Read more: How to Invest in Luxury Watches
The easiest and most reliable way to check the serial number of a Cartier watch is simply to go to a Cartier retailer. All official Cartier retailers have complete data on Cartier serial numbers, and they can very accurately tell you the year when the watch was produced by checking the serial number in their database. Another way is by doing an online search of Cartier serial numbers. If you already know the serial number of the watch, then there are several sites online that can help you find information about the watch by typing in the serial number. This could, however, in some rare cases, be incorrect. Hence, the most reliable alternative is to talk with a Cartier retailer.
Our Watch specialist graduated from Columbia with a degree in Fine Arts and has been a collector of watches for over 40 years. He is a distinguished writer and has published various horological articles in The Bulletin of The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. He has been a featured writer in multiple collections of books. Throughout the past twenty years, he has practiced as an appraiser and a curator of horological exhibitions.