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Cartier Jewelry, Watches, Sunglasses, Pens Complete Guide Review

Updated on January 8, 2015

Cartier

Cartier is one of a few big high-end brands occupying the very apex of luxury jewelry and watch making pyramid. Like Vacheron Constantin, it supplied various royal houses, and like Tiffany and Co., it offers a broad selection of products incorporating precious metals and stones (the latter collaborating with Patek Philippe) – unlike these two respectable names, however, Cartier is a purely French company.

While offering a range of fashion and luxury accessories (lighters, fountain pens, sunglasses, fragrances), Cartier focus mainly on jewelry and watches. Both design and technology receive careful attention: only recently the company started manufacturing their own in-house movements, Santos 100 being the first watch to contain such a caliber.

In a way, Cartier make a point out of providing a full luxury spectrum where timepieces and jewelry play equal roles; they may overlap in some collections, but often will present two different designer visions – a quality that emphasizes the depth (arguably unrivalled) of and variety of the firm's selection.

Like Tiffany and Co., Cartier has exhibited its best jewelry – spanning the company's entire oeuvre and stylistic spectrum – in museums across the globe. The brand sees itself, and presents itself, as a source of artistic inspiration as much as a commercial luxury enterprise.

Designs

Entertain the imagination with their confident aplomb, pure Gallic verve, and a combination of unbridled luxury and occasionally chaotic brilliance. Some of these characteristic appear in Jaeger LeCoultre, the high-end Swiss watchmaker – but JLC bears a touch of tradition and orthodoxy that Cartier will relish in undermining, subverting, and then putting back together in their own original manner. As a high-end fashion brand, Cartier not only keeps up with latest trends – it sets the trends.

Despite the multiple risks designers have taken over the years, the brand's watches and jewelry reveal a common thread of a consistent, creatively and expressively capacious aesthetic – hinting that those risks were calculated after all – and that the company knew exactly what it was doing. Admittedly, however, it's easier to judge things in retrospect. Either way, today Cartier deservedly stands out as one of the most popular, desired, and multifaceted luxury jewelry and watch brands in the world.

Materials

Include gold in white, yellow, and pink shades, steel (sometimes combined with gold), platinum, palladium, and titanium. Gems comprise diamonds, pearls, and various colored stones – rubies, sapphires, amethyst, onyx, and others (some quite rare). Additional ornamental materials include various semi-precious stones, lacquer, and mother-of pearl among other.

Accessories

Though most of our reviews will focus on the jewelry and the watches, we dedicate two separate articles to writing instruments (fountain and other pens) and to sunglasses, two product categories that expand Cartier's range to fields where the company left a mark even without becoming a dominant player.

Jewelry

Click on the links to read dedicated reviews:

  • Rings form Cartier's by far most elaborate jewelry department: hundreds of models executed in various styles and materials, aimed for casual, formal, fashion, and special occasion (wedding bands and engagement rings). Almost the entire range of precious metals and stones, styled in such collections as Leve, Trinity, Panthere, Hearts, Tank, can be traced in this Cartier segment.

  • Bracelets include about a hundred items currently in production – chain, link and charm bracelets, identity bracelets; pieces with a single diamond or pearl accent, leather ropes/straps with a golden identity plaque, bangles, and more. Gold, and occasionally platinum become the most common materials in this department.

  • Earrings – pendant, hoops, stud, and long type – display the arch of classic Cartier design and stylistic ideas repackaged into small jewelry pieces – which have to express the brand's essence fully yet succinctly. Charms do the same thing, adding a universal trait that renders the assortment suitable for a variety of uses: shoes, key chains, bags, and other types of jewelry, for instance, bracelets and necklaces.

  • Necklaces/Pendants: delicate, simple, and elegant themes characteristic to such collections as Trinity, and heavier, more luxurious pieces from Panthere line. In between rests the playful and colorful Delices, Leve, and more.

Watches

In late 1800s Cartier combined jewelry (bracelets) with pocket clocks to create the first wrist watches. Initially they were considered strictly feminine accessories – but the brand made steps to change this conception by following up with gentlemen's Santos line. Today, most of the watchmaker's selection features both men's and ladies' timepieces. Click on the links to read dedicated reviews:

  • Roadster presents a classic tonneau shape case with a prominent cabochon crown that becomes its own decorative element. Powerful linear dial guilloche combines with oversized Roman numerals; mechanisms: quartz or automatic movements with date and chronograph complications. Race car inspired, it's one of Cartier's most popular watch designs.

  • Pasha constitutes a versatile and well developed collection of men's and ladies watches; different Pasha models can function as casual, dressy, or sports (diving in particular) timepieces. Round case, single or two-tone, accommodates Art Deco Arabic numerals and an elaborate cabochon crown, flanked by smaller globular pusher for the chronographs. Bracelets or interchangeable straps.

  • Tank is another Cartier classic executed in rectangular shape; steel and two-tone variations will remind watch aficionados of Ebel Brasilia designs, and even several square Baume&Mercier models. Comes in various sizes and designs, including casual, dressy, and formal/business oriented. Gold, steel, and diamonds.

  • Santos features a purely square dial encompassed by a soft squared case, and appears to combine elements from Roadster and Tank: it's sleek and powerful, like the former, and elegant, like the latter. Santos is well known for its unique screwed down bezels; contains automatic and quartz calibers, equipped with metal bracelets or leather/fabric strap.

  • Ladies: in our reviews on ladies watches we focus on Panthere and Must/21 – two of Cartier's most familiar feminine collections.

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