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Cartiers SA is a Frenchmarker jeweller and watch manufacturer that is a subsidiary of Switzerlandmarker's Compagnie Financière Richemont SA. The corporation carries the name of the Cartier family of jewelers whose control ended in 1964 and who were known for numerous pieces including the "Bestiary" (best illustrated by the Panthère brooch of the 1940s created for Wallis Simpson), the diamond necklace created for Yadavindra Singh the Maharaja of Patiala and in 1904 the first practical wristwatch, the "Santos." Cartier SA is headquartered in Parismarker.

The company has a long and distinguished history of serving royalty, as well as stars and celebities. One Prince of Wales hailed Cartier as "Joaillier des Rois, Roi des Joailliers" (Jeweller to Kings, King of Jewellers"). Cartier received an order for 27 tiaras for the coronation of the future King. King Edward VII was crowned in 1902 and in 1904 he honoured the Company with the Royal warrant of supplier to the Royal Court of England. Similar warrants soon followed from the courts of Spain, Portugal, Russia, Siam, Greece, Serbia, Belgium, Romania, Egypt and finally Albania, and also from the House of Orleans and the Principality of Monaco.

Cartier is at present the no. 1 seller of luxury jewellery in the world, and the no. 2 seller of luxury watches (after Rolex).

History

Cartier's New York landmark location on 5th Avenue
Cartier was founded in Parismarker in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier when he took over the workshop of his master. In 1874, his son Alfred Cartier took over the administration of the company, but it was Alfred's sons Louis, Pierre and Jacques, who were responsible for establishing the world-wide brand name of Cartier.

In 1904, the Brazilian aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont complained of the unreliability and impracticality of using pocket watches while flying to his friend Louis Cartier. Cartier rose to the challenge, designing a flat wristwatch with a distinctive square bezel. This watch was not only a hit with Santos-Dumont, but also with Cartier's many clients. Thus, out of this timeless design, the "Santos" was born. This was the first men's wristwatch (Patek Phillipe made the first wristwatch, but for a woman and as a one-off).

Louis retained responsibility for the Parismarker branch, moving to the Rue de la Paixmarker, in 1899. He was responsible for some of the company's most celebrated designs, like the mystery clocks (a type of clock with a transparent dial and so named because their works are hidden), fashionable wristwatches and exotic orientalist Art Deco designs, including the colorful "Tutti Frutti" jewels.

In 1907, Cartier signed a contract with Edmond Jaeger, who agreed to exclusively supply the movements for Cartier watches. By this time, Cartier had branches in London, New York and St. Petersburg and was quickly becoming one of the most successful watch companies in the world. The introduction of the Baignoire and Tortue models (both of which are still in production today) took place in 1912, followed by the Tank model's debut in 1917. In 1932, they manufactured a watertight watch made especially for the Pasha of Marrakesh.

In 1917, inspired by the newly introduced war machines on the Western Front, Louis Cartier designed the most notable Cartier watch, the Cartier Tank watch. This line too has survived, with over thirty varieties now being made.

In the early 1920s Cartier formed a joint company with Edward Jaeger (of Jaeger-LeCoultre) to produce movements solely for Cartier. Thus was the European watch & clock company born, although Cartier continued to use movements from other great makers. Cartier watches can be found with movements from Vacheron Constantin, Audemars-Piguet, Movado and LeCoultre. It was also during this period that Cartier began adding its own reference numbers to the watches it sold, usually by stamping a four-digit code on the underside of a lug. In fact, many collectors refuse to accept a Cartier as original, unless these numbers are present.

Jacques took charge of the London operation and eventually moved to the current address at New Bond Street.

Elevation of Cartier's, New York
Pierre Cartier established the New York Citymarker branch in 1909, moving in 1917 to the current location of 653 Fifth Avenue, the Neo-Renaissance mansion of Morton Freeman Plant (son of railroad tycoon Henry B. Plant) and designed by architect C.P.H. Gilbert. Cartier acquired the mansion from the Plants in exchange for $100 in cash and a double-stranded natural pearl necklace valued at the time at $1 million.

Among the Cartier team was Charles Jacqueau, who joined Louis Cartier in 1909 for his entire life, and Jeanne Toussaint, who was Director of Fine Jewelry from 1933 on.

Ring-Design > Cartier 1969
After the death of Pierre in 1964, Jean-Jacques Cartier (Jacques's son), Claude Cartier (Louis's son), and Marionne Claudelle (Pierre's daughter) — who respectively headed the Cartier affiliates in London, New York and Paris — sold the businesses.

In 1972 a group of investors led by Joseph Kanoui bought Cartier Paris. President Robert Hocq, the creator of the concept of "Les Must de Cartier" (a staff member is said to have said "Cartier, It's a must!" meaning something one simply must have) in collaboration with Alain Dominique Perrin, General Director, began introducing new products representative of the status and quality of the Cartier of the past. In 1974 and 1976 respectively, Cartier London and Cartier New York were bought back. In 1979 the Cartier interests were combined together, creating "Cartier Monde" uniting and controlling Cartier Parismarker, Londonmarker and New Yorkmarker.

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