True love for watches transcends form and functionality to appreciate the history and heritage to watchmaking. Therein, lies the true value of a luxury timepiece –unleashed through the folds of time, through its origins and evolution, through its unique and enchanting story.
In the world of fine watchmaking, the big players have been around since the very beginning of time (pun intended). Of the lot, the most captivating story is that of Cartier.You’ll find that Cartier’s history has long since been entwined with royalty.
With well over a century’s worth of horology under its belt, Cartier watches are the most sought after in the high-end, high-jewellery luxury watch spectrum. Thankfully though, bagging a beautiful Cartier Watch now needs no more than hitting pedigree stores, like Ethos Watch Boutiques,and others. But back in the day, even the royals had to especially commission these beauties!
Curious who they were? I’m in the mood for blowing your brains out a little, so let’s take a look at Cartier’s history through a timeline of royalty who’ve donned Cartier through the ages.
Princess Mathilde Bonaparte
Niece to Emperor Napoleon III, Princess Mathilde had a fascination for fine jewellery. She’s said to have chanced upon the Cartier store at 5 Rue des Petits Champs in Paris, 1956, and was smitten by its craftsmanship (remember, Cartier started out as a jeweller, before delving into fine watchmaking). Princess Mathilde quickly became Cartier’s first royal patron, frequently commissioning beautiful pieces of jewellery. By 1959, she had introduced Napoleon’s betrothed, Empress Eugenie to the jeweller, and together they celebrated their passion for jewellers with Cartier.
Cartier then went on to combine fine jewellery with fine watchmaking in the 1880s.
King Edward VII
We have King Edward VII to thank for coining the popular saying ‘Cartier, Jeweller to Kings, King of Jewellers’. Cartier’s store opening in London, 1902, coincided with his coronation –for which Cartier had the pleasure of creating 27 beautiful tiaras on commission by the king himself. By 1904, collaboration grew between the crown and Cartier leading to the brand’s appointed as official supplier to the king.
Royal Patronage across the Globe
The English court’s royal patronage and praise for Cartier became known the world over, and Cartier soon became the jeweller of choice for royal families across Europe.
As word of Cartier’s expertise travelled across Europe, King Alfonso XIII of Spain and King Carlos I of Portugal appointed Cartier as supplier to their courts.
Subsequently, Cartier’s supremacy crossed continents, and royals, nobility, wealthy merchants etc. across the globe were swooning over its creations. Tsar Nicholas of Russia was quick to follow in appointing Cartier as official supplier. King Paramindr Maha Chulalongkorn of Siam soon joined the ranks, followed by the likes of King Peter I of Serbia, Duke Philippe of Orleans, King Albert I of Belgium, King Edward VIII, and many, many more.
Innovation in Watchmaking
Allow me to digress for a moment to touch upon the beginnings of Cartier’s prolific history in horology. The turn of the 20th century was witness to Cartier’s extensive innovation in the realm of fine watchmaking.
In 1985, Cartier forged the world’s first water proof watch for the Sultan of Pasha. An inventive protective lock ensured water resistance. Today, the line continues to amaze as the ‘Cartier Pasha’.
In 1904, aviator Alberto Santos Dumont came to Cartier with the complaint that pocket watches aren’t quite feasible or practical for flights. The request by the aviation pioneer marked the beginning of Cartier’s exquisite innovations in watchmaking. The era of pocket watches was set to change when Cartier introduced its latest creation–a unique square bezel wristwatch, the first of modern watches as we know them today. Breaking the mould, Cartier changed the hands of time –quite literally—and named the new line‘Santos Dumont’ after the famed pilot. The legendary collection thrives even today, retaining its classical design and old-school charm. If you’re looking for a timepiece that not only keeps time immaculately, but houses an iconic piece of history in horology, a Santos Dumont is what you’re looking for.
Queen Elizabeth II
(Queen Elizabeth II wearing the Cartier Halo Tiara)
(Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II wearing the Halo Tiara)
(Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton, wears the Halo Tiara as she weds Price William of England)
Passed on through generations of English royalty, the Halo Tiara was originally commissioned by the Duke of York (King George VI), for the Duchess of York, who now reigns supreme as Queen Mother Elizabeth II. Most recently, Catherine Middleton joined the royal family donning the priceless beauty on her wedding day to Prince William, to become the Duchess of Cambridge –a regal beauty, indeed!
An 18k gold Cartier Tank was the trusted choice of the charismatic Lady Di –reinstating Cartier as the royal choice. The elegant and exquisite design of the Tank was befitting the Princess’ timeless beauty. The timepiece was passed on to her son, Prince William, after her tragic death in 1997.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Rekindling the bond between the House of Windsor and the House of Cartier, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge goes for a Cartier Ballon Bleu. The glint of the blue sapphire cabochon reflects a royal touch to the timepiece, and the understated, simple, stainless steel finish is testament to the functional yet formidable style of the new generation of royals.
With such a rich history of horology and royal clientele, Cartier is indeed the jeweller of kings –a regal luxury now brought to the masses, so you too, can add a majestic touch to your wrist with a Cartier. What say?
admin July 21, 2016
Posted In: Fashion Style