" Jeweler of kings, king of jewelers It is to the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII, that we owe this formula, while he made the brand the official supplier of the crown of England, at the very beginning of the twentieth century. In 1847, more than half a century earlier, Louis-François Cartier, the one by whom it all began, started. He takes a jewelery workshop in Paris. Cartier is born by the jewel.
However, very quickly, the first models appear, in the form of pocket watches or worn as a pendant. The house in the rue de la Paix is then transformed, a real forerunner, in watchmaking and jewelery, what it is still.
Today, if the share of jewelry remains predominant, timepieces still occupy an important place, with more than 600 000 pieces sold per year (estimate). This heavyweight, now owned by the Richemont Group, represents half of its sales and two-thirds of its profits (estimates). From this point of view, this French luxury monument largely distances Montblanc or Van Cleef & Arpels, two other stars of the group.
Last year, Cartier revived the Panther, born in 1983, a jewel watch, flexible and elegant that has become an icon of the house. If the watch does not evolve radically, however, the jeweler has appealed to the American filmmaker Sofia Coppola, for communication. The director of Virgin Suicides imagined a very film eighties which features a young modern woman. " In communication, the global model no longer applies. We put in place a global strategy, followed by adaptations that take into account local realities "Moderates Arnaud Carrez, marketing director of the brand. Thus, for the Middle East, Sofia Coppola's film, which shows a young woman driving her car, bathing, going to nightclub, appeared a little too contemporary and sulphurous. It was not broadcast locally and was replaced by a much more traditional campaign. We will not get angry with his customers!
Cartier, a femininity claimed
In the small world of watchmaking, the brand is showing a personality and a shattering creativity. " When we started, we were a jeweler's house, recalls Arnaud Carrez, marketing director of Cartier. This leaves traces. "Very quickly, the company is equipped, rare thing at the time, a creative studio that develops very original and stylish models.
These beginnings explain the character imbued with a great femininity of the Parisian brand. " When some of our products, especially watches, are aimed at men, they always convey an elegant and refined masculinity, insists the leader. We position ourselves as a feminine house that makes men's watchmaking. In recent years, we have introduced more sporty models, such as the Caliber of the Cartier Diver range. But they remain very dressed and classy. "
The brand seems indeed to refuse to explore some territories apparently too far from his mind. " We are not positioned on "pure testosterone", adds Arnaud Carrez. Our brand is full of paradoxes. She experiences some inner tension. Cartier wants to go forward, create new forms, surprise. But at the same time, the brand must design and develop objects in line with its rich and abundant heritage. We are seeking a balance between this great past and the present. "
An international network
" Our house is located in all major markets of the planet in a balanced way ", Welcomes Arnaud Carrez. This choice allows Cartier to suffer less headaches crises. The brand is supported by a network of approximately 300 stores in more than 120 countries. The brand manages the markets with pragmatism. It strengthens its presence in the Middle East and Africa, with South Africa and Morocco among the most prominent territories on this continent. And if it has recently renovated its Australian antenna, it is that this destination is now ultra-tourist Chinese tourists, always very spend despite a less favorable context. However, the brand does not forget its historic territories. In 2016, she renovated, expanded and embellished her shop on New York's 5th Avenue, which has been home to it since 1917. And France, for its part, is an essential market, especially in terms of image. Hence the installation of the Cartier foundation for contemporary art in Paris. Finally, the sign is slowly rushing towards the web. It launched a first e-commerce site in 2008, and it begins to open up to platforms pure players, like Mr Porter …
For a long time, the brand has become accustomed to revisiting its historical collections. This year, it is the Santos, which, for men, has benefited from a deep facelift; while in women, it is the Panther that has been relaunched. " We have always done this way. Our flagship models are our wealth. They are as numerous as they are iconic, transgenerational and universal ", Notes Arnaud Carrez.
Tank, variation around a legend
The Tank de Cartier, born in 1917, is emblematic of this policy which focuses on revisiting regular home icons. To last, this watch relies on ultrasonic and stripped forms, inspired by the Renault tanks of the First World War.
The sleek design of this watchmaking object, pillar of the Arts Déco, has seduced the free spirits and the elegant ones and still seems to resist the passage of the years. Compared to this tireless timepiece that has more than a century of existence, automotive myths do not carry much weight. Thus, the Land Rover, born in 1948, or the Porsche 911 of 1963 are "youngsters".
Over time, the Tank family has welcomed innumerable variants that have built, little by little, a family tree whose ramage is very dense and sometimes complicated to decrypt. In 1922 is born the Louis Cartier rectangular. Ten years later, it is the turn of the basculante to appear, followed by the Asymmetric in 1936.
The DNA of tradition
" We seek to do well what we know how to do. It's our priority, asserts Arnaud Carrez. The connected watch is clearly not our priority. We are the opposite of this type of products that integrate electronic modules. These objects, essentially obsolete, do not enter the DNA of the house. " An electronic product ends up breaking, five years after its release. All the opposite of a Cartier object, which slides over the years. Our old models are beautiful, whatever their age. Our watches, in particular, are studied to be transmitted from generation to generation. There is a Cartier permanence. "
More exotic, the Tank Chinese or American as well as a English Tank, novelty 2012, enrich the range. Finally, the last-born, the Tank MC – MC for "Manufacture Cartier", with a slightly curved case – joined the dynasty in 2013. A novelty, it benefits for the first time from an automatic house movement, the caliber 1907 MC, and a glass bottom that allows better to admire it. This year, finally, new versions of the Tank Cintrée appeared.
Evolving is therefore seen as an absolute necessity for the engineers and creatives of Cartier, who are certainly already looking into the next iconic model to revisit. Which watch will soon be entitled to its modernized collection and more adapted to the wishes of customers?
• 1847: Louis-François Cartier settles in Paris.
• 1898: inauguration of the new shop at 13, rue de la Paix.
• 1902: establishment in London. Cartier becomes the official supplier of the British Crown.
• 1904: exit of the Santos, one of the first wristwatches in history.
• 1917: creation of the Tankwhose forms are inspired by the armor of the Renault tanks of the First World War.
• 1964: the Cartier family passes the hand and loses control of the company.
• 1973: appearance of the collection The Must of Cartier.
• 1983: launch of the women's watch Panther.
• 1984: opening of the Cartier foundation for contemporary art in Jouy-en-Josas.
• 1994: the foundation moves to 261, boulevard Raspail, in Paris, in a building signed by Jean Nouvel.
• 2001: inauguration of the watch manufacturer in La Chaux-de-Fonds, also imagined by Jean Nouvel.
• 2010: Launch of the 1904 MC caliber, the first 100% Cartier self-winding movement.
• 2017: new Santos.