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Cartier: Ahead of the Curve
Luxury, expertise, and experience: Few brands can rival Cartier when it comes to their perfect creations. The company has been a watchmaking pioneer for over 150 years. In fact, the very first pilot's watches came from this Parisian manufacturer.
The Creator of the Wristwatch
Cartier has long been a trailblazer in the world of watchmaking. They were among the first companies to offer wristwatches in an era still dominated by the pocket watch.
Cartier has set design standards, too. Back in the early 20th century, the Parisian manufacturer introduced the first square dial. The Santos, which they developed in 1904 especially for the Brazilian pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont, remains one of Cartier's most famous wristwatches to this day. The same can be said of the Tank. This rectangular timepiece made its debut in 1917 and has since become an industry icon. Over the decades, it has attracted many prominent wearers, such as Andy Warhol, Elton John, Jacques Chirac, Calvin Klein, and Yves Saint Laurent.
Cartier watch owners always have a story to tell, not least of all thanks to the special attention to detail the manufacturer puts into every product and the versatility of their range. For example, the Roadster collection brings to mind old sports cars, while the decorative Panthère embodies the elegance of its namesake feline.
Top models come in white gold, are encrusted with diamonds, and cost over 120,000 USD. One example is the Pasha de Cartier with a panther motif and in-house caliber. In 2020, Cartier announced several interesting new releases, some of which boast in-house calibers. These include the black Santos de Cartier ADLC, the Pasha de Cartier with a retro dial design, and the oversized Santos-Dumont XL.
5 Reasons to Buy a Cartier Watch
- Watch manufacturer with in-house calibers
- Cartier Santos: the world's first pilot's watch
- Cartier Tank: a cult watch with a rectangular case
- One of the most prestigious luxury brands worldwide
- A wide range of models
Prices at a Glance: Cartier Watches
|Santos 100, W20073X8||6,400 USD||Square case|
|Roadster, W62020X6||6,000 USD||Chronograph, date magnification|
|Ballon Bleu, W69012Z4||6,100 USD||Round case, silver sunburst dial|
|Pasha de Cartier, HPI00365||120,000 USD||White gold case, manual caliber 9613 MC, chained crown cover|
|Pasha, 2324||8,000 USD||Chained crown cover, date at 5 o'clock|
|Tank, W5200014||2,600 USD||White dial, gemstone on the crown|
|Santos de Cartier ADLC, WSSA0039||7,200 USD||Caliber 1847 MC, ADLC coating|
|Santos-Dumont XL, WSSA0032||5,900 USD||Silver dial, two hands, gemstone on the crown|
How much does a Cartier watch cost?
Fans of luxurious wristwatches are in the right place with Cartier. Their catalog is comprehensive and covers a wide range of prices.
If you like the look of a square watch, your first stop should be the Santos collection. You will find pre-owned Santos timepieces in good condition for less than 1,200 USD. Prices for mint-condition versions begin around 4,200 USD. However, models made of 18-karat gold with diamond-studded indices often cost more than 36,000 USD.
Cartier celebrated the Santos' 100th anniversary with the release of the Santos 100. This watch sells for about 3,000 USD in good and very good condition, while never-worn pieces demand upwards of 4,800 USD. The addition of a tourbillon and diamonds takes the price to a new level. This exclusive version of the Santos 100 changes hands for over 240,000 USD.
The Tank also comes with a square or rectangular case. Pre-owned quartz models are available for around 840 USD. New stainless steel Tank watches cost much more, running about 2,800 USD. This series includes timepieces that cost well over 60,000 USD as well. For example, prices for a Cartier Tank Anglaise with diamonds and an automatic caliber start around 96,000 USD.
Prices for Round Cartier Watches
If the square and rectangular cases of the Tank and Santos collections don't speak to you, Cartier also offers watches with round cases. You can call a stainless steel Pasha with an automatic caliber your own for around 3,000 USD new and 1,800 USD in very good condition. There are also gold editions with skeletonized dials and diamonds that cost more than 120,000 USD.
While the men's watches of the Calibre de Cartier collection are also round, they are much more modern and sporty. The collection's name is not a coincidence: Its watches get their power from the first movement ever developed and produced by Cartier in house. You can choose between a 38 or 42-mm case, with the latter best suited to larger wrists. A never-worn model in stainless steel demands around 6,000 USD. Used automatic Calibre de Cartier watches cost about 1,800 USD less.
Tank: A Fan Favorite for Over 100 Years
Cartier developed the Tank in 1917 during the First World War and brought it to market in 1919. In 1916, the British had become the first military to use tanks on the battlefield during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. The company based the watch's design on these colossal steel giants, and its lines are reminiscent of a tank's tracks. Some of the Tank's special features include its unique lugs and seamlessly integrated bracelet or strap. Cartier presented General of the Armies John J. Pershing with the original prototype.
Patrons of Cartier quickly fell in love with the watch, which has received numerous updates throughout the years. This has led to various sub-collections, such as the Tank Anglaise and Tank Solo.
One example of a Tank Solo is the ref. W5200013, a stainless steel women's watch that measures 24.4 x 31 mm. Twelve Roman numerals sit atop its silver-plated opaline dial, and its beaded crown features a synthetic spinel cabochon. The term "cabochon" refers to gems that have been shaped and polished but not faceted. They have flat bottoms and a domed top. A three-piece link stainless steel bracelet holds this timepiece securely on the wrist. You can purchase this Tank Solo new for about 2,800 USD. Pre-owned watches cost a fair amount less at 2,000 USD.
Extraordinary Proportions: The Tank Solo XL
Cartier also produces a distinctly masculine version of the Tank Solo known as the Solo XL. The ref. W5200028 is the W5200013's larger counterpart, making these two references – and many other pairs of Cartier models – a fantastic choice for matching his and hers timepieces. An automatic mechanical movement sits within the XL's 31 x 40.85-mm case. Prices range from 3,000 USD for a used watch to around 3,600 USD for a mint-condition model.
If you're a fan of Art Deco, you may enjoy the Tank Américaine. Compared to other Tank models, its case has a more elongated, rectangular shape and feels particularly elegant. The ref. WB710008 is a quartz women's watch with an 18-karat rose gold case and bracelet. A total of 49 brilliant-cut diamonds adorn its bezel, perfectly framing the silver-plated dial and its twelve Roman numerals. Finally, a set of tempered blue sword hands complete the refined look. This model is available on Chrono24 for about 28,500 USD in mint condition, while pre-owned pieces remain a rare sight. Cartier lists the same watch for 31,300 USD.
Those who can do without the glitz and glamor of diamonds and gold may prefer one of the more reserved models, such as the ref. WSTA0016. Cartier pairs this stainless steel women's watch with a blue leather strap. You'll find this timepiece selling for between 3,600 and 4,000 USD. The Américaine series also contains a variety of men's watches. The ref. WSTA0018 is identical to the WSTA0016 except for its larger, 26.6 x 45.1-mm case and automatic movement. Be sure to have about 5,300 USD on hand to purchase a new timepiece. At 4,300 USD, used versions are markedly more affordable.
Pasha de Cartier: New 2020 Models
Cartier launched the Pasha collection in the mid-1980s. Since then, the manufacturer has introduced various editions for men and women. The collection underwent a major overhaul in 2020 with the release of a line of new models. The men's watches measure 41 mm in diameter; the women's watches, 35 mm. You can choose from a stainless steel, rose gold, or yellow gold case. One of this collection's defining features is the screw-down crown cap attached to the watch via a single chain link. Carter also leaves enough room for a set of engraved initials below the crown on the side of the case. The crown itself boasts a beautiful blue spinel or sapphire cabochon. As for a power source, this timepiece relies on the in-house caliber 1847 MC with a 40-hour power reserve.
The design of the 2020 releases hearkens back to previous Pasha models from the 1980s. These three-hand watches have tidy dials that only feature four Arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock. A square minute track occupies the middle of the dial. Cartier also offers a stainless steel Pasha for fans of manual watches and skeletonized dials. This 41-mm timepiece contains the in-house caliber 9624 MC and has a 48-hour power reserve.
Prices for a new 41-mm stainless steel edition sit around 5,400 USD. If you'd prefer gold, you should expect prices of between 14,000 and 16,000 USD. Models with a skeletonized dial are the most expensive at about 24,000 USD.
Cartier Santos: The Watch for Pilots
The Cartier Santos has been around since 1904. The manufacturer designed the original wristwatch for famous Brazilian pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont. In 1906, Dumont performed the world's first public engine-powered flight. His specially designed Cartier wristwatch accompanied him on his record-breaking flight, enabling him to keep both hands on the controls while also reading the time. The Cartier Santos thus became the first pilot's watch in the history of watchmaking.
Today, a boxy case and distinctive bezel screws continue to define this collection. You can purchase a classic vintage model from the 1970s and 80s for around 4,300 USD.
Cartier rereleased the Santos collection in 2018. These models feature the in-house caliber 1847 MC and can withstand magnetic fields of up to 1,200 gauss. The manufacturer also updated the bezel's angular design, which is especially prominent on two-tone models thanks to their contrasting colors. One of this series' major advantages is its use of Cartier's patented QuickSwitch and SmartLink systems. These make changing out the band an easy process.
Ref. WJSA0012 With the In-House Caliber 1847 MC
The ref. WJSA0012 is a member of the small but noteworthy Santos de Cartier collection. This watch measures 35 mm across. The case itself is made of 18-karat rose gold and embellished with brilliant-cut diamonds. It also features a crown topped by a faceted sapphire. The automatic in-house caliber 1847 MC powers this timepiece. Cartier ships each watch with two interchangeable leather straps.
Mint-condition pieces sell for roughly 20,500 USD on Chrono24. This model is rarely found used and has an official list price of 27,100 USD. Other versions include the white gold ref. MJSA0014 and yellow gold WJSA0010. While the former demands 30,000 USD, the latter requires an investment of some 50,000 USD.
Santos de Cartier ADLC and Dumont XL
In 2020, Cartier presented a solid black Santos under the reference number WSSA0039. Its stainless steel case is 39.8 x 47.5 mm and boasts an ADLC (amorphous diamond-like carbon) coating. The dial is also black and features contrasting Roman numerals in white. A synthetic black spinel caps off the coated stainless steel crown. Inside the watch, you'll find the automatic in-house caliber 1847 MC, which provides this Santos with its 40-hour power reserve. As an added bonus, you can even take the Santos ADLC swimming thanks to its water-resistance of 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft).
This model comes with two straps: one in rubber and the other in alligator leather. Thanks to Cartier's QuickSwitch band changing system, it is easy to alternate between them. The sleek Santos ADLC costs about 7,300 USD new, while listings for pre-owned pieces rarely appear on Chrono24.
The Santos Dumont XL (ref. WSSA0032) also made its debut in 2020. As its name suggests, this timepiece is an oversized version of the standard Santos. Its stainless steel case is an impressive 33.9 x 46.6 mm. Like most Cartier watches, it also features a beaded crown with a gemstone – in this case, a synthetic blue spinel.
The Santos Dumont XL gets its power from the manual Cartier caliber 430 MC. This movement has a 38-hour power reserve. The watch also has a satin-brushed silver dial and two tempered blue sword hands for displaying the time. A navy blue alligator leather strap rounds off this classy timepiece. If you'd like to call this Santos your own, be sure to have around 5,500 USD on hand for a mint-condition watch. Pre-owned editions are still a rare find.
Roadster: Cartier's Sports Watch
The Cartier Roadster embodies the alluring charm of sports cars from the 1950s and 60s. While quite similar to the Cartier Tortue, the manufacturer lends this model some interesting details. For example, the screws on the corners of the pillow-shaped case resemble a roadster's headlights. What's more, the magnifying lens over the date mimics the look of a vintage car's hood scoop. Hood scoops allow air to flow directly into a car's engine compartment.
Set aside around 2,200 USD for a quartz-powered Roadster in very good condition. For this price, you can get the classic version with a white dial and black Roman numerals. A more recent edition with Arabic numerals and an automatic movement starts around 2,400 pre-owned and 4,200 USD new.
Ballon Bleu With a Blue Cabochon
As you may have guessed, the Ballon Bleu collection is home to watches round like a balloon. These women's and men's timepieces feature crowns set with a blue (or "bleu," in French) sapphire or spinel cabochon. The different models are available in stainless steel, yellow gold, rose gold, or even as two-tone watches. Some of the most exclusive editions combine white gold with large numbers of diamonds. Prices for Ballon Bleu watches are equally varied, with entry-level quartz timepieces demanding less than 4,800 USD and top white gold versions selling for well over 120,000 USD.
A fantastic example of a quartz women's Ballon Bleu is the ref. W69010Z4. Cartier crafts both its case and bracelet out of stainless steel. It also has a silver-plated dial with twelve black Roman indices and two tempered blue hands that indicate the hours and minutes. This watch is 28.6 mm in diameter and costs about 4,400 USD new and 3,500 USD pre-owned.
The ref. W69012Z4 is a similar men's model with a mechanical automatic movement and 42.1-mm case. Prices for this watch range from 4,900 to 6,200 USD.
Cartier: Jeweler of Kings
The French jeweler and watch manufacturer Cartier has history, tradition, and experience stretching back over more than 160 years. In 1847, a then-28-year-old Louis-François Cartier took ownership of the Parisian jewelry store run by his mentor, Adolphe Picard. Cartier established a name for himself in the business. A large part of his success was due to his acute awareness of his customers' tastes.
In 1874, his son Alfred joined the company, and they began expanding their watchmaking department. Their goal was to create Cartier clocks, watch pendants for necklaces, and wristwatches. As early as 1888, diamond-studded women's watches were appearing in Cartier's showcases. Thus, Cartier joined other pioneers in the field of wristwatches in the late 19th century, a time when pocket watches were still the time-telling method of choice. In 1893, the company ordered its first batch of watches from Vacheron Constantin. In the beginning, these early wristwatches struggled to sell, as they weren't particularly fashionable. However, as long sleeves and women's gloves fell out of favor, the naked wrist became the perfect spot for a wristwatch.
Cartier's precious jewelry and watches have always been highly sought after by kings and nobles around the world. They established themselves as the official jeweler of the largest royal houses early on, providing richly decorated tiaras heavy with gemstones to queens and princesses. Among their clientele were Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, and Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain. This is just one of many reasons why King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, proclaimed that the Parisian business was the "jeweler of kings, king of jewelers." This is still true today; at her wedding to Prince William, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, wore a Cartier tiara previously donned by Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.
The business split into three parts upon Louis Cartier's passing in 1942: Cartier Paris, Cartier London, and Cartier New York. The branches remained separate until the late 1970s when they were reunited as Cartier Monde SA. Today, Cartier is part of the Richemont Group, which also includes other renowned manufacturers like Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and A. Lange & Söhne.
- 1847: Louis-François Cartier founds the company
- 1888: Cartier introduced their first wristwatches
- 1904: Development of the Santos
- 1917: Development of the Tank
- 1931: Presentation of water-resistant wristwatches
- 1985: The Pasha enters series production
- 2007: Introduction of the Ballon Bleu
- 2010: Cartier produces their first in-house caliber