Louis-François Cartier took over his master’s jewellery workshop in 1847. Over the years, his sons and grandsons inherited the family business and expanded the brand by opening shops in New York and London. King Edward VII of the United Kingdom granted Cartier a prestigious royal warrant in 1904, calling the brand ‘The jeweller of kings and the king of jewellers’. Royal warrants soon rolled in from all over the world (among which, Belgium, Egypt, Greece, Siam, Spain, Portugal, and Russia).
While Cartier is known primarily for its jewellery, it also has a history in watchmaking. Cartier’s first venture in watchmaking came in 1888, offering exclusively lady models. In 1904, Louis Cartier gave his friend and Brazilian aviation pioneer Santos Dumont a wrist watch to wear during his flights. Until then, wrist watches were worn exclusively by women and men opted for the traditional pocket watch. The Santos Dumont was not only the first wrist watch geared towards men but also the first pilot’s watch!
It was a tribute to the Allied Troops and their tanks. Hence, the name and the form. The model started in 1917 but was made public in 1919 once the peace had returned. Tank watches are easily recognizable because of their crossbars, sidepieces and their rectangular or square form. It belongs to the most important watches in history and it is one of the pillars of Cartier. No wonder that, for example Andy Warhol, Jackie Kennedy, Yves Saint Laurent, Frank Sinatra and Calvin Klein, all wore one.