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Cartier, the French luxury brand, has created a lasting legacy over the ages, from creating the first wrist timepiece to making the most famous diamonds in the world. Famously celebrated as the ‘Jeweller of Kings’, the brand has continuously pushed boundaries and enchanted the world with its sophisticated and unique creations. So, it’s not hard to think that each popular design has an interesting story.
Whether it is associated with Cartier’s heritage, watchmaking or style, the brand is a mega-design house creating things that eventually become the next object of desire. Looking over Cartier’s most iconic creations, here are some of the most exciting origin stories enthusiasts will admire.
Read through the series of stunning stories.
The story starts with a specific problem. In 1904, Alberto Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian aviator complained to his friend Louis Cartier about the inconvenience of a pocket watch to check the time while flying. Soon enough, Cartier designed the first wristwatch with a stunning square bezel. Santos-Dumont became the first to wear a Cartier wristwatch in November 1906 when he took a flight.
Cartier officially launched the Santos in 1911 with style resembling the original 1904 creation. During the initial years, the Santos had a 25mm x 35mm square case in platinum or yellow gold. The dial design was highly legible with an Art Deco style, and the exposed bezel screws looked adventurous. The early Santos watches usually had black or brown leather straps with a gold folding buckle.
The current-day Cartier Santos is available in various metals, including steel, pink gold or white gold, with multiple bracelet options, such as the Smartlink gold bracelet and interchangeable straps. You can even select a Santos added with sparkling brilliant-cut diamonds.
Introduced by Cartier in 2007, the Ballon Bleu collection aesthetically combines the brand’s superior watchmaking with fine jewellery sensibility. It is also one of Cartier’s most iconic models. If you see the catalogue of Cartier’s watches, you can find most of them made of rectangular, square, tonneau and cushion-shaped cases. So, when the Ballon Bleu debuted in the mid-2000s, it quickly gained attention for its round shape and extraordinary versatility. It was a matter of great excitement for the brand.
The shape of the famous Ballon Bleu resembles a hot air balloon. Cartier envisioned a large circle held by slender threads to curate this creation. The manufacturers wanted to give more volume to the simple round case and made it doubly convex so that the shape would strike immediately. Every aspect of this watch is perfectly balanced, much like a reminiscence of a pebble.
It is round on the top and the bottom and sits elegantly on the wrist. The dial has dignified Roman numerals, and the enclosed blue cabochon crown makes it instantly recognisable. You can always turn it over to see the full profile, as it is curved the same way on the back. The watch is fundamentally unisex and is available in various styles and diameters. You can find it in white, pink or yellow gold, steel and with or without diamonds fitted to multiple bracelet options.
The Panthere de Cartier is undoubtedly one of Cartier’s most indomitable icons. It symbolised free spirit and was a powerful role model of the 20th century. The story begins with a woman named Jeanne Toussaint, a style icon in Paris. When this famous lady became acquainted with Louis Cartier, a new inspiration for Cartier jewellery was born. Toussaint wore a full-length panther coat and had her apartment beautifully adorned with leopard skin. The lady’s fierce determination and elegance earned her the nickname ‘La Panthere’ from her then-lover Louis Cartier.
What started as a nickname soon prowled into Cartier’s one of the most recognised collections- The Cartier Panthere wristwatch. It came sculpted in black enamel and yellow gold, a combination that gave more dimensions to the animal. In 1914, the panther appeared on a Cartier wrist piece with stones adorning it for the first time. But it was in 1983 when the Maison finally unveiled its Panthere de Cartier catalogue of quartz jewellery timepieces. The motif has since become an icon.
It all lies in the symmetry and balance between the black and white and the alternating onyx and diamonds. Their shapes, number, spots, and dome determine the spirit of each Panthere de Cartier creation. And the third colour adds pigment to the appeal. The exclusive animal motif appears on various Cartier accessories, watches and jewellery.
This year, the Cartier Tank turns 105, and there’s hardly any Cartier collection as enduring, elegant, and famous as the Cartier Tank. Beloved by both men and women, the story of the famous Tank goes back to 1917 when Louis Cartier was inspired to create this one-of-a-kind timepiece. He made this iconic dress timepiece by drawing inspiration from the newspaper images of the Renault FT-17 tanks used on the Western Front during World War 1. The Renault tank was a mechanical hero of the Great War.
As goes with the name, the Tank design pays homage to the French tanks and looks square and rectangular with a seamlessly integrated leather strap. Clean Roman numerals grace the dial, and the crown features a single blue sapphire. In 1918 Cartier gifted one of its first Tank models to US General John Pershing. The first Cartier Tank model made its debut to the public in 1919, and by the early 1920s, its popularity was sky-high.
Today, the Cartier Tank watches are available in various metals, with or without diamonds, fitted to different bracelet options. The watch has a huge celebrity following who adore its sophisticated appearance. Some of the most popular Tank models created are Tank Anglaise, Tank Americaine, Tank Louis Cartier, Tank Francaise, Tank MC, and Tank Solo.
A real-life heartbreak inspired Cartier’s most heartfelt collection – The ‘LOVE’ collection. And the love bracelet is its most loved jewellery. It finely captured the spirit of an era when sexual liberation was coming to the fore. But the start to this wasn’t all lovey-dovey. The story of Cartier’s most desirable Love bracelet started in 1959 when a young man named Aldo Cipullo from Rome immigrated to New York. He had a rough fate in love.
Cipullo was heartbroken when one night; his relationship came to an end. He went to his studio at 3 am and came up with a bracelet design that changed the fate of Cartier forever. The bracelet’s design symbolised the permanence of love. Sounds ironic, doesn’t it? The man fused technicality with jewellery to create a masterpiece that one couldn’t just slip off the wrist easily. It had screw heads installed on the bracelet, making it extremely difficult to take it off.
For the oval-shaped bracelet design, Cipullo drew inspiration from the chastity belt prevalent during the medieval ages as a symbol of loyalty and purity. He designed the bracelet to show a couple’s love and fidelity towards each other. It required a special miniature screwdriver to secure and remove the bracelet. After all, symbols of love must be everlasting.
At this point in history, Aldo worked for Tiffany and wore one of these unique versions on his wrist. And, despite much enthusiasm from his colleagues and friends, the brand didn’t pick up the design. A few months later, in 1969, Cipullo went to Cartier and pitched the idea to them. Cartier got him on board.
The birth and launch of the Cartier ‘Love’ bracelet was a triumph! Originally, the love bracelets came as a set for couples. One couldn’t just randomly walk in to buy a love bangle for themselves. It had to be purchased as a gift or as a couple who surrendered the screwdrivers to one another. The bangles were chic and innovative and symbolised the permanence of love. However, today anyone can wear and lock themselves into the adored Love bracelets.
Now, more than ever, the Cartier love bracelet has increased in popularity and value, making them a popular investment option where you can sell your Cartier at a high price.
By now, you must have realised that there’s no brand as dramatic as Cartier. And, thanks to the interesting stories that add so much more meaning and value to each Cartier item. Each creation by Cartier is nothing less than magical, leaving buyers enCchanted since the dawn of the 20th century.
Over the years, the French Maison has created some of the most iconic watch and jewellery designs which now have become steady investment pieces. Whether it is a Cartier Tank or Panthere, or the beloved Love bracelet, you can rest assured to draw a good return when you sell Cartier items. Hence, proved it never was or will be only timekeeping for Cartier.
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