Cartier was founded in 1847 in Paris by the jeweller Louis-François Cartier, who in 1899 handed over to his three sons.

They would establish the company internationally, not least by making the Cartier name a favourite among the crowned heads of Europe. Named "King of Jewellers, Jeweller of Kings", the brand was quick to turn its attention to watches. Many have become modern-day icons, such as the Santos (1904), one of the first wristwatches, the Tortue (1912) and the Tank (1919). They were followed by other noteworthy creations, including the Pasha, the Santos 100, the Ballon Bleu and the Calibre.

The Cartier family retained ownership of the firm until 1964. It is now part of the Richemont Group.

Key dates

Louis-François Cartier (1819-1904) took over the jewelry workshop of the master-craftsman Adolphe Picard at 29, Rue Montorgueil in Paris.

Princess Mathilde, niece of Napoleon I and cousin to Emperor Napoleon III, made her first purchase from Cartier.

Cartier opened its doors at 13, Rue de la Paix. Louis Cartier (1875-1942), eldest son of Alfred (1841-1925), had been in business with his father for one year.

Crowned heads and aristocrats from around the world flocked to buy neoclassical diamond jewelry mounted in platinum.

Pierre Cartier (1878-1964), second fils d'Alfred, ouvre une boutique Cartier à Londres, au 4 New Burlington Street à l'occasion du couronnement du roi Edouard VII.

Cartier received its first royal warrant as official purveyor to King Edward VII of England.

Louis Cartier created a watch with a leather strap, specifically designed to be worn on the wrist, for his friend the Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont.

Opening of a new boutique at 175-176, New Bond Street, London.

Pierre Cartier opened a subsidiary in New York at 712, Fifth Avenue.

Pierre Cartier sold the blue Hope Diamond to an American customer, Evalyn Walsh McLean.

Launch of the Santos de Cartier wristwatch, inspired by the 1904 model.

First mystery clock, “Model A”; to be followed up by other iconic mystery clocks such as the “Portico” clock in 1923. Tortue watch arrived on the market.

First "panther" motif set in diamonds and onyx on the bezel of a round ladies’ wristwatch.

The New York store moved to 653, Fifth Avenue, the mansion home of Morton F. Plant which Pierre Cartier acquired in exchange for a double-strand necklace of 55 and 73 natural pearls.

Creation of the Tortue single pushpiece chronograph watch.

Jeanne Toussaint was made head of Cartier Fine Jewelry.

One of the smallest wristwatches in the world, by Cartier, was given to Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom.

Creation of the "Caged Bird" brooch as a symbol of the Occupation. In 1944, the "Freed Bird" brooch celebrated the Liberation of France.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor purchased a platinum panther brooch on a 152.35-carat Kashmir cabochon sapphire in Paris. Cartier would buy the brooch for its own collection in 1987.

Creation of Jean Cocteau's sword for his election to the Académie Française, to the artist's own design.

The Mexican actress María Félix commissioned Cartier to make a diamond necklace in the form of a serpent.

Cartier acquired an exceptional 69.42-carat pear-shaped diamond which it sold to Richard Burton. He gave it to Elizabeth Taylor. The famous Cartier Diamond was thus renamed the Taylor-Burton.

Creation of the Love bracelet.

Creation of Les Must de Cartier by Robert Hocq with Alain-Dominique Perrin.

Creation of the Santos de Cartier watch with a gold and steel bracelet.

Launch of the Pasha de Cartier watch.

Launch of the Tank Américaine watch.


First Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) luxury watchmaking conference in Geneva.

A jubilee year. Cartier celebrated its 150th anniversary with exceptional Fine Jewelry creations including a necklace in the form of a serpent, paved with diamonds and set with two pear-cut emeralds of 205 and 206 carats.

Cartier displayed the ceremonial necklace made for the Maharajah of Patiala at the 21st Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris.

Launch of the Roadster watch.

Inauguration of the Manufacture Cartier in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Launch of the Panthère de Cartier collection.

Creation of the Caresse d’Orchidées par Cartier Fine Jewellery collection.

Creation of the Ballon Bleu de Cartier watch.

Fine Watchmaking Collection launched with the Ballon bleu de Cartier tourbillon; the 9452 MC calibre was the first Cartier calibre to be stamped with the Geneva Seal.

Design of the Astrotourbillon movement and Calibre de Cartier watch.

The ID2 concept watch was unveiled at the Manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds. This innovative, avant-garde watch was the brainchild of a development team led by Carole Forestier Kasapi.

Release of the "Odyssée de Cartier" film.

Presentation of the Rotonde de Cartier Double Mystery Tourbillon, the Calibre de Cartier Chronograph line, and the Ballon Bleu de Cartier Tourbillon Double Jumping Second Time Zone.