Most Expensive Watches

Michael Mears

From the Desk of:
I.M. Wisezenheimer

August 8, 2013

The Most Expensive Watches:

Cartier logo

One of the oldest jewelers in the world, with a reputation as a global brand selling the most expensive watches, and catering to the whims of royalty and movie stars alike, Cartier’s prestigious reputation for elegant watches and
jewelry is deserved.

Louis Cartier  Louis-Francois Cartier

Cartier has been producing custom-made or one-of-a-kind luxury wristwatches since 1847, the year Louis-Francois Cartier took over his master’s Parisian jewelry business where he had been an apprentice. He was twenty-eight years old. Today, the Cartier line of wristwatches is the most recognizable designs on the planet, and some in the Cartier line truly are the most expensive watches in the world.

Cartier was fascinated with timepieces. He was also a master at promoting his business. He connected with the royal families in Europe, creating one-of-a-kind custom watches and jewelry for them. Over the years his reputation grew.
The British royal family named him the Jeweler of Kings and the King of Jewelers. 

The first Cartier watches and jewelry were dramatically different from the designs of the time. Elegant and extravagant, the Cartier timepieces were in sharp contrast to the jewelry and watches of the time, which were florid, formal, and heavy.

Louis-Francois Cartier did not create the first wristwatch. Patek-Phillipe did. Louis Cartier is responsible for popularizing it. In 1904, Louis Cartier met the Brazilian aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont, who told Cartier that pocket watches, which were the only watch design of the time, were unwieldy and unreliable for flight.

The First Santos-Dumont Wrist Watch  The First Santos-Dumont Wrist Watch

Cartier designed for Santos-Dumont a flat wristwatch with a square bezel. The watch soon became hugely popular and in demand by many of Cartier’s clients. The Santos is still one of Cartier’s most popular wristwatches, and the design is largely the same as the one created for Santos-Dumont. 

In 1874, Cartier's son Alfred took over the business and expanded their line of wristwatches. In 1899, Alfred's son Louis Cartier entered the firm and developed the branded Cartier watches.

By 1907, Cartier had branches in New York, London, and St. Petersburg and was one of the most successful watch companies in the world. The Baignoire and Tortue Cartier were introduced in 1912, followed by the Tank L.C. model in 1917. In 1932, Cartier created for the Pasha of Marrakesh the Pasha, the first watertight watch.

Louis Cartier died in 1942.  Without his artistic genius the company declined artistically and financially. It was only in 1972, when a group of investors took over the company and installed Alain Perrin as its CEO, that the company finally
regained lost ground.  Perrin reinvigorated the Cartier brand. By creating new versions of classics such as the Santos, Perrin managed to reestablish Cartier as an innovative and fashionable watchmaker.

Today, Cartier's best-sellers include the classic Tank, now the Tank Francaise, a distinctive sports watch similar in concept to the Santos; the Pasha now an elegant wristwatch for ladies; and the Panther wristwatch, which includes an
18K gold or stainless steel bracelet.

A Cartier watch is aesthetically and mechanically near perfect in function and form. They are meticulously handcrafted and use the finest, intricate movements. Although Cartier is a world famous brand name and their watches considered to be the most expensive watches, there are Cartier wristwatches available in a wide range of prices and styles.