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Buy a Cartier Watch or a Rolex?

Updated on April 12, 2013

How to Choose - Do You Buy a Cartier Watch or a Rolex?

Do you want to buy a Cartier watch or a Rolex? This lens is a review or comparison between Cartier and Rolex watches and we will be looking at the features and some of the styles of both of them.

What does your watch say about you, and where will you wear it? Will you choose to buy a Cartier watch or a Rolex?

Just looking at this 'timeless' piece here - this watch oozes style that transcends time. It is elegant, and as near to perfection as anyone would want from a watch - it states that time management does not master the wearer but the wearer is master of their destiny.

Louis Cartier - founder of Cartier in 1847
Louis Cartier - founder of Cartier in 1847

The History of the Cartier Watch

The Beginnings Behind the Name

Cartier Watches created and designed by Louis Cartier

Louis Cartier was born in 1875 in Paris, France and died in 1942. He was the son of Alfred Cartier, and his grandfather, also named Louis, began the Cartier brand.

Louis Francois Cartier was a businessman who became known worldwide for his elegant and extravagant designs in watchmaking. His passion was pocket watches and his goal was to create and design his own time-pieces. A craftsman Patek Phillipe was the first to create a wristwatch in 1868, but Louis helped to make the wristwatch more popular than the pocket watch. That came about in part, because a friend Alberto Santos-Dumont, an early aviator, wanted a watch he could use when he was up in the air, as pocket watches were not suitable. So in 1904, Louis set about creating a timepiece that would work in these conditions, and the Santos wristwatch, the first wristwatch made for men, was born. The Santos became available for sale in 1911, being the first production of wristwatches for Louis Cartier.

Business expanded over the next few generations from Louis Cartier (1818 - 1904), his son Alfred Cartier to his grandsons, Pierre, Jacque and Louis Francois Cartier (1875 -1942). Alfred managed the production of jewelry while his sons, Louis Francois and his two brothers helped the family business expand. The Cartier name became the most well-known in the watchmaking and jewelry world.

Their Paris store was moved in 1899 to the elegant Rue de la Paix and later stores in London (opened 1902), Moscow (opened 1908) and New York (1909) quickly followed.

Two new models of Cartier watches (still available today) were introduced in 1912, called the Baignoire and Tortue, and the Tank was revealed in 1917. During this time, Cartier began to reference his watches by stamping a four-digit number on each time-piece.

With Louis' attention to detail and the innovative use of precious platinum with diamonds used his pieces, he became successful with not only the fashion royalty but with the aristocracy of the day, and a comment was made of him by Edward VII when he was still Prince of Wales.

Louis Francois Cartier was referred to as "king of jewellers, jeweller to kings."

In 1945, the business became Cartier International which later turned into a multinational organization. In 1972 its president, Robert Hocq, took over the branches of Cartier in London and New York, and re-established the prestige of Cartier.

Today Cartier watches contain the movements of such famous Swiss watchmaking companies as Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, Movado and Le Coultre.

Masterpiece in Time
Masterpiece in Time

Models of the famous Cartier Watch:

The Tonneau (1906)

The Tank (1910)

The Tortue (1912)

The Baignoire (1912)

The Pan

Current Collections and Models

Cartier still continues designing beautiful, timeless works of art for men and women today. In its watch section there are such famous collections like: Tank, Pasha De Cartier, Santos De Cartier and Ligne 21 de Cartier.

Included in the Tank collection are delectable models such as: Tank Solo, Tank Chinoise, Tank Americane, Tank Francaise, Tank Divan, Tank Louis Cartier and Tankissime.

Pasha De Cartier collection includes these watches: 32mm, 42mm, Pasha C and Pasha Seatimer.

The famous Santos De Cartier collection includes these elegant models: Santos Demoiselle, Santos Dumont, Santos 100 and Santos De Cartier Galbee.

And finally, the well-known line of watches in the Ligne 21 De Cartier collection includes these two: 21 Chronoscarf and 21 Must de Cartier.

The Cartier brand includes many other incredible timepieces made of various precious materials and stones.

These timepieces from Cartier are available in platinum, gold/steel, steel, titanium and three types of gold, namely yellow, white and rose.

The Cartier timepieces are created with various types of movements from quartz to mechanical automatic winding and mechanical manual winding. There are various designs and sizes for men and women found in every Cartier collection and every taste and lifestyle is catered for.

Nothing says style, prestige and elegance better than Cartier.

- (information based on Wikipedia entry for Louis Francois Cartier)

Style and Elegance - Buy a Cartier Watch

Rolex Submariner
Rolex Submariner

History of the Rolex

- or Buy a Rolex

In 1905 Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis founded their business "Wilsdorf and Davis" in London. At that time, their business involved importing Hermann Aegler's Swiss movements to England, placing them in quality watch cases made by Dennison and others and selling them to jewellers, who would then put their own names on the dial.

The earliest watches from Wilsdorf and Davis were usually hallmarked "W&D" inside the caseback.

In 1908 Wilsdorf registered the trademark "Rolex" and opened an office in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. The company name "Rolex" was registered on 15 November 1915. History has it that the name "Rolex" was made up, and that the name came from the French phrase horlogerie exquise, meaning "exquisite clockwork" or perhaps as a contraction of "horological excellence".

Wilsdorf wanted his watch brand's name to be easily pronounceable, and he thought that it sounded like a watch being wound. All letters have the same size, which allows to be written symmetrically and it is also short enough to fit on the face of a watch.

If you are wanting confirmation of the precision with which the Rolex has been designed, in 1914, Kew Observatory awarded a Rolex watch a Class A precision certificate, a distinction normally awarded exclusively to marine chronometers.

In 1919 Wilsdorf left England, with taxes and exporting costs becoming intolerable for luxury items, and moved the company to Geneva, Switzerland. Here it was established as the Rolex Watch Company.

Its name was later changed to Montres Rolex, SA and finally Rolex, SA.

Wilsdorf ensured that some of the company's income would go to charity after his wife's death in 1944. The company is still owned by a private trust and shares are not traded on any stock exchange.

Among the company's innovations are:

1923 - The first waterproof wristwatch - "Oyster"

1931 - The first self-winding watch available

1945 - The first wristwatch with an automatically changing date on the dial "Rolex Datejust ref.4467"

- The first wristwatch with an automatically changing day and date on the dial "Rolex Day-Date"

1953 - The first wristwatch case waterproof to 100 m (330 ft) "Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner ref.6204"

1954 - The first wristwatch to show two time zones at once "Rolex GMT Master ref.6542"

- The first watchmaker to earn chronometer certification for a wristwatch

Rolex Men's Platinum President Silver Diamond Dial
Rolex Men's Platinum President Silver Diamond Dial


Rolex have produced specific models suitable for the extremes of deep-sea diving, mountain climbing and aviation. Some of these included the Rolex Submariner, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date Sea Dweller, the Explorer and Explorer II, and the Rolex GMT Master, which was originally developed in 1954 to assist pilots with the problem of crossing multiple time zones when on transcontinental flights (GMT standing for Greenwich Mean Time).

Other watch models: Rolex Daytona stainless steel (ref. 116520), Rolex Sea Dweller Deepsea with 3,900m depth rating (ref. 116660), Rolex Yacht-Master, and the Rolex Daytona chronograph stainless steel, white dial (ref. 6263)

Rolex has three watch lines:

Oyster Perpetual, Professional and Cellini (the Cellini line is Rolex's line of 'dressy' watches) and the primary bracelets for the Oyster line are named Jubilee, Oyster and President. They include:

- Air-King

- Date

- Datejust

- Datejust II

- Datejust Turn-O-Graph

- Lady Datejust Pearlmaster

- Daytona

- Paul Newman Daytona

- Day-Date

- Day-Date II

- Day-Date Oyster Perpetual

- Explorer

- Explorer II

- GMT Master II

- Masterpiece

- Milgauss

- Oysterquartz

- Sea Dweller

- Sea Dweller DeepSea

- Submariner

- Yacht-Master

- Yacht-Master II

Cellini models:

- Quartz Lady's

- Quartz Men's

- Cellinium

- Cestello Lady's

- Cestello Men's

- Danaos Men's

- Prince

Notable and perhaps some notorious owners of the Rolex:

- Che Guevara wore the Rolex GMT Master (apparently now in the possession of CIA agent Félix Rodríguez, who witnessed Che's execution).

- Guide Tenzing Norgay wore the Rolex Explorer when he climbed and reached the summit of Mount Everest with Sir. Edmund Hillary in 1953.

- Author of "James Bond," Ian Fleming wore the Rolex Explorer ref.1016.

- The Rolex Submariner has appeared in eleven James Bond movies. Rolex declined to give the film company a wristwatch gratis during the making of "Dr. No," the first of the series in 1962, so the film's producer Cubby Broccoli lent Sean Connery his own (a Rolex Submariner on a black crocodile strap). Rolex supplied the wristwatches from the next film onwards.

- Steve McQueen was often photographed wearing his Rolex Submariner Reference 5512. This watch sold for $234,000 at auction on June 11, 2009, a world-record price for the reference 5512.

Rolex is the largest manufacturer of Swiss made certified chronometers. To date, Rolex still holds the record for the most certified chronometer movements in the category of wristwatches.

This company has specialized in creating watches for any situation and creating them well. They are functional and practical, or they are classy and incredibly desirable, they are Rolex.

Diamond Studded Cartier Cougar Watch
Diamond Studded Cartier Cougar Watch

So How Do You Choose -

Buy a Cartier Watch or a Rolex?

Having looked at the Cartier and the Rolex, there are similarities and then there are marked differences.

The Cartier Watch is distinctly a jewellery piece and the collections have been included in the wide range of exquisite pieces created by the House of Cartier for people with discerning tastes and style. The passion of Louis shows through even though he no longer lives, but his dream carries on.

The Rolex is distinctly a quality functional watch designed specifically for extreme activities, and the company's focus is on perfecting a watch for any environment and condition, while maintaining an air of craft and superlative styling.

They both are quality, precision timepieces with slightly differing 'audiences' yet they both exude style, royalty and a timelessness.

You can tell the difference between a quality piece and a "knock-off" or inexpensive copy. To illustrate, I bought a lovely piece of sterling silver jewellery and I also bought an inexpensive version and there is no comparison. The cheaper version was not finished as the other piece was, the craftsmanship is markedly different between the two, One says junk and the other says style.

You just know ... you know what I mean ...'

Both will be an investment and if you enjoy the finer things in life, a beautiful timeless timepiece will simply state that. The choice is yours...

Which Do You Prefer? - Cartier or Rolex?

If you like a bigger timepiece then Rolex tends toward that style, if you prefer a more delicate understated, simple but elegant style then Cartier leans that way. The choices are yours and the watch you choose will be as individual and unique as you are.

Simply stated and stately, unique and stylish - spoiled for choice, but when you see it, you will know which one is for you....

Which one appeals to you....

Which Will You Choose? - Rolex or Cartier

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    Post Comment

    • profile image 

      3 years ago

      Cartier represents quality without ostentation.Rolex represents nouveau riche who have to say I have made it.May I say money talks, wealth whispers.

    • JohannaBaker profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @Thrinsdream: Same!

    • Thrinsdream profile image


      6 years ago

      All of them! Great collection. With thanks and appreciation. Cathi x


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