Cartier watches have been favored by royalty and the elite for hundreds of years. If you follow lifestyle news, chances are you’ve seen Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle with a Ballon Bleu, though sometimes Markle opts for a Tank. That was Diana Spencer’s choice for many years as well; Michelle Obama’s, too. With the brand’s history as a jeweler, it may be easy to think of it as a feminine company, but Duke Ellington, Clark Gable, Mick Jagger, and a few kings would quickly dispel the notion. If you’re considering Cartier watches, this page will give you background on the brand and info about their timepieces, so you can decide if they’re right for you.
History of Société Cartier
Founded in Paris in 1847, Société Cartier initially focused on jewelry. The company developed such a following that royalty took to it, with King Edward VII of Great Britain dubbing it “the jeweler of kings and the king of jewelers.” The company was operated by family until the 1960s, though it’s presently owned by Richemont Group, which is parent to Panerai, Roger Dubuis, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and other notable watchmakers.
What Makes Cartier Watches Distinct
Because the company began as a jeweler, focus has historically been placed on creating timeless and elegant pieces. Several Cartier watches are more than 100 years old and are still fashionable today. You’ll naturally find a bounty of gem-laden pieces that look more like a dazzling bracelet than a timepiece. However, others are unisex classics. The Tank is a prime example of this. While princesses favor the understated design, it was designed by Louis Cartier who was inspired by military tanks. He wore one, as has Mick Jagger and Tom Cruise, among others. There are also more masculine designs, but they’re typically more suited for office wear or formal events.
Popular Cartier Watches and Pricing
Some of the brand’s most iconic pieces start at about $3,000- $5,000 new, but because they do incorporate high-quality gemstones, some pieces exceed $200,000. A few Cartier watches have recently been released which are essentially toned-down versions of their classics, and these occasionally drop below $3,000. Sold under the “Solo” name, these pieces provide the look, but not necessarily the quality the brand is known for.
Tank Louis Cartier
Tanks are iconic; easily distinguished by their rectangular cases, blue sword hands, and blue gemstone cabochon. There are several Tank collections and even multiple pieces within the Tank Louis Cartier collection. The entry piece starts just under $9,000 and features a blue sapphire and an 18k yellow gold 29.5 mm x 22 mm case with brown alligator strap. It hosts a quartz movement and is water-resistant to 30 meters. If the standard price tag on a Tank is a bit much, you can get the look with a Solo version starting at just under $2,500.
Ballon Bleu de Cartier
There are many variants of the Ballon Bleu. The name translates to “Blue Balloon,” and all pieces in the collection bear the same hallmarks. The most distinguishing feature is the crown; topped in a blue gemstone and inset in a protective cocoon formed by the bezel. The gemstone varies based on the model. Sapphires adorn the top-tier pieces, while spinel and others are on some of the more modest ones. The face hosts a touch of whimsy, with roman numerals around, but buckling inward at the inward bubble from the positioning of the crown. Blue sword hands further mark the pieces as Cartier watches. The entry piece, a 28mm steel version, begins at $4,600. It’s water-resistant to 30 meters and utilizes a quartz movement.
Calibre de Cartier
The classic Calibre de Cartier is steel with a black alligator strap and comes in two sizes; 38mm and 42mm. Because there are modest differences between the two, this focuses on the 38mm variety. What the brand describes them as “sporting masculinity,” they should not be mistaken for a sports watch. These are classier pieces that would look good whether you’re wearing a polo shirt or suit, but are only water resistant to 100 feet and lack the shock resistance features one would require during active sport. That being said, they do have a self-winding mechanical movement and date window as well as Cartier’s distinctive blue sword hands, so they’re certainly of good quality and will be noticed. Pricing starts at a little over $6,000.
Ronde Louis Cartier
The Ronde Louis Cartier collection is arguably a bit more masculine than most available from the brand, but the look can be pulled off by a confident woman, particularly if she selects one with more gemstones. These pieces feature round cases, roman numerals, a rail-track minute circle, a stone upon the winding mechanism, and blue apple-shaped hands. The entry-level piece for the collection begins at just under $16,000. It hosts a quartz movement and features a 29mm pink gold case, diamonds around the bezel totaling 0.36 carats, and is topped off with a brown alligator strap. There are Solo versions of the Ronde which start at around $2,500.
Find a Wealth of Fine Cartier Timepieces on Value Your Watch
If you’re on a budget but not a fan of the trimmed down Solo versions or simply want a great deal on a luxury timepiece, you’ll find what you’re looking for on Value Your Watch. Browse our full catalogue or explore our selection of Cartier watches for sale.
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