Are Cartier Watches a Good Investment?| Chrono Hunter
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Are Cartier Watches a Good Investment?| Chrono Hunter

Are Cartier Watches A Good Investment?


We meet again, Timelords. This time, we are discussing if Cartier watches are a good investment. Since their creation in 1847, Cartier have been pushing the boundaries of watchmaking, executing world-renowned models such as the Cartier Santos-Dumont. 

From being the official purveyor of fine watches for the Royal Family in 1904 to the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton wearing the Cartier Ballon Bleu in 2014, Cartier are associated with wealth and prestige. One of the most famous horological examples is Princess Diana who wore the iconic Cartier Tank Francaise in gold.

Ever since, Forbes have estimated that Cartier is worth around £8bn. This incredible figure isnt by fluke, watch lovers. Innovation, simplicity and symbolic design have pushed Cartier this far.  But is it sufficient to make you buy a Cartier tout de suite and does it make them great investment opportunities? Read on to find out!


Brief Background Of Cartier Watches


Where to start with such an exceptional brand?

Starting in the ‘city of light’, Cartier was created by Louis-Francois Cartier in 1847. Moving swiftly forward, Louis-Francois' son, Alfred took over the business and moved it to Rue De La Paix in the jewellery district of Paris. It was further expanded to London and New York courtesy of Alfred’s sons. 


Cartier Tank - Source - Cartier

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Alfred's third son stayed in Paris to focus on the development of Cartier wherein his ideas of using precious metals like platinum earned Cartier the role as the ‘jeweller of kings and the king of jewellers’. from King Edward VII in 1902. 

Possibly the most well known horological event of all time occurred in 1904 when Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont requested a wristwatch from Louis Cartier. A flat wristwatch with a square bezel was later created which was extremely influential on the watch industry from that point onwards. It made the wristwatch exceptionally popular and created the Swiss brand’s first ever pilot’s watch, a design that Cartier have stuck with ever since. 

In 1917, the face of the brand quite literally was changed forever thanks to the Cartier Tank. Creating one of the key collections for Cartier even in the modern era, Louis Cartier returned from the Western front with a concept based on Renault FT tanks he had seen on the battlefield. The notorious “brancards” design, French for stretcher, represents the treads of a tank, alongside the case itself which is indicative of the cockpit. 

The Cartier Tank contains both jewellery and Haute Horologie, meaning this model became the first unisex model. Furthermore, it was actually one of the first wristwatches made showing the influence Cartier had on the timekeeping world. High society and celebrity icons such as Megan Markle, Princess Dianna and Andy Warhol have all adorned The Cartier Tank. Louis Cartier would die in 1942 but innovation still ran through the timekeeping veins of Cartier, such as the first Pasha launched in 1985 and the Cartier Tank Francaise which made its debut in 1996. In today’s era, Cartier remains one of the most prestigious and established watchmakers globally. 

They released the Roadster in 2002 and the Santos 100 in 2004, marking the 100th anniversary of the Cartier Santos. The Santos 100 enlarged the model to modern proportions but still retained its timelessness through its iconic leather strap. The Santos 100 was such a hit that Cartier didn't touch it again until 2018. 

The Concept ID Two, released in 2012 demonstrated Cartier's ascendancy into the future, flinging off the shackles of former times. It took five years of research and development across 135 different engineers and it holds a 32 day power reserve in a 42mm case. In comparison with a standard mechanical watch, it consumes half as much energy, symbolising the incredible evolution of this model in comparison to its mechanical counterparts. 

So yes, Cartier is yet to collapse under the weight of their own grandeur. An achievement of its own accord I guess!


Most Popular Cartier Models


Cartier has a myriad of well established models but for the sake of time and sanity watch peeps, we have condensed the list into the top 3 major Cartier collections. 


Cartier Tank


Inspired by the Western Front, Louis Cartier designed the Cartier Tank on the Renault FT-17 tanks that were commonly used during WW1. The design was passed onto The American Expeditionary Force in 1917 as a prototype. 


Cartier Tank Francaise - Source - Cartier 

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Introduced fully to the public in 1919, this unisex watch became the staple of Hollywood's finest, being worn by actors like Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart to actor Vanessa Kirby

The timepiece echoes its past of wartime, blending practicality with a refined design. The design is rectangular which relates to a bird's eye of a tank and its vertical sides which protrude out, relating to a tank's treads. The design was exceptionally avant-garde for its period, breaking with many watchmaking traditions and was instrumental in bringing in an Art Deco trend. 

The Cartier Tank is very popular, garnering support from many celebrities today. For example, in June 2017, the model's centenary, the most valuable Cartier Tank was auctioned off for £315,000 to Kim Kardashian. Oh yes, Timelords. Do not sleep on The Cartier Tank. The Cartier Tank may be designed like a tank, but it has the charm of a top end Ferrari. Its sleek design since its release has epitomised what an elegant watch should look like. 

You can buy a Cartier Tank Large Model steel version at retail for £3,150 at the time of writing. 


Cartier Crash


The Cartier Crash came from the swinging sixties in a period of bold design and experimentation.


Cartier Crash - Source - Cartier 

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Its history is laced with ambiguity, some saying that the design originated from the burning embers of a car crash involving a Cartier Baignoire Allongée which was later taken into a Cartier store in London and inspired its design. 

Whatever the history behind this famous model, the end product looks like a fantastic re-interpretation of something out of a Salvador Dalí painting. 

The Cartier Crash utilises its bizarre shape to make a watch that is instantly recognizable and undeniably unique. Now in various forms such as rose gold, white gold and diamond, the Cartier Crash brilliantly creates many species of an iconic model. 

As expected, this model is associated with the artists amongst us, namely prolific hip-hop artists Kanye West who owns a rare yellow gold model, Jay Z and Tyler The Creator. The classic Roman numeral design is created in such a way that they move with the melting case, extending and retracting to create a surreal dial. 

While it may be one of Cartier's more daring numbers, it's important to note the classic sapphire crown and blue hands that have made Cartier so timeless since its inception.

You can buy a Cartier Crash at retail for £137,000 at the time of writing.


Santos De Cartier


The Santos de Cartier represents Cartier's leap into the aviation world. 

Created in 1904 by Louis Cartier for his close friend Alberto Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian pilot, he needed a highly accurate watch which was accessible on the wrist. This would allow him to check the time without risking him taking his hands off the controls. 

The subsequent creation would result in the first ever mass produced pilot watch and men's wristwatch. Incidentally, Santos-Dumont was also the first person to be filmed in an aircraft in flight in 1906. Proudly adorning the Santos de Cartier, this showed Cartier’s initial flight into the big leagues. 


Santos de Cartier - Source - Cartier

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Ever since the collection has undergone many alterations and dynamic iterations. The colour choices have changed, from steel, rose gold, yellow gold or white gold for the case to the bracelet options. These feature either a SmartLink gold bracelet or a strap which houses brilliant-cut diamonds. 

This particular collection is worn by actors at the top of their game including Tom Cruise, Christian Bale and Jake Gyllenhaal. The latter adopts a variety of models including a full steel one which Tom Cruise boasts Christian Bale goes for steel too, this time with a blue dial to accentuate the indices and the face more.

Cartier Santos is certainly a good investment as it is worn by the social elites and its rich history as the first pilot's watch makes this one to watch for appreciating in value. 

You can buy a Cartier Santos Large Model in steel at retail for £7,000 at the time of writing. 


Do Cartier Watches Hold Their Value?


Cartier watches can do much more than hold their value. They have the potential to increase in value. This is predominantly due to the first-rate heritage that Cartier bestows upon lucky watch fans and collectors looking to buy a watch.

Moreover, it is the quality of craftsmanship, and symbolic status that follows every model.  



Pasha de Cartier - Source - Cartier

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Cartier watches have phenomenal staying power due to their storied history and their incredible design. There are many examples of this but the best way to check is through the older models and to see if they retain their value. For example, a stainless steel Cartier Tank from 1935 was sold by Sotheby’s for more than £200,000 in 2021. This shows the level of appreciation that some Cartier models have the potential of achieving. 

Collections like the Cartier Tank are famed for their rectangular designs which stretch back since the collection's inception in 1917. Similarly, the Pasha de Cartier has kept its beautifully rounded case, large bevel and screw down crown design since its introduction in 1985. 

Some Cartier watches are extremely coveted among collectors which means they have a stronger chance of holding their value. For example, the 46mm Cartier Extra Large Ballon Bleu Tourbillon diamond watch. You can buy a Cartier Extra Large Ballon Bleu Tourbillon for around £800,000 at the time of writing. 

Just as Rolex is famed for using their crown since 1925, Cartier's collections haven't changed aside from updating the movement, demonstrating the longevity and quality of materials inside each model. 

In 1904, Jaeger-LeCoultre joined Cartier in a contract to create ultra-thin mechanical movements for the new Santos collection. Edmund Jaeger had created ultra thin calibres so for Jaeger to supply all their watch movements for a period of 15 years, was a huge financial win for both Jaeger and LeCoultre.


Best Cartier Watches To Invest In


It could easily be stated that any Cartier model is a good investment. However, we know some of you watch fiends are on here to turn a good profit. The best Cartier watches to invest in, as is the case with most watch brands, are those that are rare or have an illustrious back story like the Tank Solo which appeals to many collectors.


Cartier Tortue Minute Repeater - Source - The Rake

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In addition, The Cartier Phoenix Decor Secret Watch has only one model released. Shaped like a phoenix, the watch is predominantly made from white gold and is plated with rhodium. The eyes are made from emeralds and diamonds. The entirety of the model is covered by over 3000 brilliant-cut diamonds which equates to 80.13 carats. You can buy a Cartier Phoenix Decor Secret for around £2.3 million. 

But I get that most of you loyal watch enthusiasts will not have this lying under the sofa! The Cartier Rotonde Tourbillon Chronograph Platinum Watch is a very limited edition with just 50 pieces created. In a round platinum case, it has a transparent case back and a beautiful black alligator strap with a platinum double adjustable deployant buckle. You can buy a Cartier Rotonde Tourbillon Chronograph Platinum watch for around £180,000 at the time of writing. 

It’s also wise to try and buy vintage Cartier watches. For example, a Tortue Minute Repeater was sold in 2002 for around £880,000. Known to be the only minute repeating watch made by Cartier during the Art Deco period, it was registered by Cartier in 1929 and sold in 1931. This goes to show that the older Cartier has the potential to vastly exceed their original retail price. 

And our watch spies tell us that prices have been rising for rarer Cartier models from the 60’s and 70’s that may give you that added bit of equity. 




Cartier has been able to retain its quality for all these years and still produce to the highest of standards they did over a century ago with the Tank. While sticking to the main designs of the Cartier Tank and Santos de Cartier, they have made minor adjustments to keep the technology relevant while still maintaining the classic designs and sleek looks that have been working so far.

In an era where retroism is not just celebrated but revered amongst watch enthusiasts, Cartier were well ahead of the game. They are certainly worth the investment due to the models' collectability, craftsmanship and rich heritage, holding value with some rising versus retail over time, notably the Cartier Tank and Santos gold models.

Feeling a desire to own a piece of history? Want to buy a Cartier Tank or Cartier Santos-Dumont? Perhaps you want to sell a Cartier and get your hands on a vintage model? Then it’s time to contact Chrono Hunter and see what we can do. 

Contact us here and check out our phenomenal reviews on Trustpilot to see why so many people regard us as their first choice when they want to buy a watch or sell a watch. With our established network of luxury watch retailers, your transaction is in the safest and most secure hands. Receive offers in hours if not minutes and save money the smart way.


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Further Reading: 

Business Watch: Luxury Swiss Brands Outperform Stocks, Gold And Bitcoin


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