CARTIER CARRE PRE-LE MUST 1970 – £1275
Classic Cartier, pre-dating the Company’s Le Must range which was launched in 1972. This important watch, produced in small numbers, showcases Cartier’s desire to bring a more affordable range of watches to the market place. A rare and important watch for any Cartier collection.
Item description: A classic Cartier gentleman’s timepiece, dating from 1970. This distinctive timepiece features a very pleasing square case design with steeped sections in 18K gold plated finish, along with hidden winder (a design simply known as carre, meaning square). Complementing the case, is a brown enamel dial with gold Roman numerals, and the brand name, Cartier (the dial being pre-security, and without the Cartier name at ‘8’). The manual movement is 17 jewels signed Cartier to the bridge, the case-back also Cartier signed, along with serial numbers. The watch has a dark brown strap, along with a Cartier branded gold finished buckle.
Case size: 32mm x 32mm
Condition report: Case in excellent condition with a nice polished finish remaining (free from major scratches or other damage). Dial original. Movement clean and in working condition (no warranty implied). The strap and buckle remaining in excellent condition. The timepiece may have been opened, so it should not be used near moisture or water without being checked by a qualified watchmaker.
Background to Cartier: Louis-François Cartier founded Cartier in Paris in 1847 when he took over the workshop of his master. In 1874, Louis-François’ son, Alfred Cartier, took over the company, but it was Alfred’s sons Louis, Pierre and Jacques, who were responsible for establishing the brand name worldwide. In 1904, the Brazilian pioneer aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont complained to his friend Louis Cartier of the unreliability and impracticality of using pocket watches while flying. Cartier designed a flat wristwatch with a distinctive square bezel. This watch was liked by not only Santos-Dumont but also many other customers. Thus the “Santos” was born. This was Cartier’s first men’s wristwatch. Louis Cartier retained responsibility for the Paris branch, moving to the Rue de la Paix in 1899. It was Louis Cartier that was responsible for some of the company’s most celebrated designs.
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 Baignoire and Tortue models (both of which are still in production today) were introduced in 1912, followed by the Tank model in 1917. This, designed by Louis Cartier, was inspired from the newly introduced tanks on the Western Front. The Tank Watch has also survived to this day, with over thirty varieties made since.
In the early 1920s, Cartier formed a joint company with Edward Jaeger (of Jaeger-LeCoultre) to produce movements solely for Cartier. This company was named the European Watch and Clock company, producing movements to a high quality. Cartier, however, continued to use movements from other makers, such as 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. Jacques Cartier took charge of the London operation and eventually moved to the current address at New Bond Street. Pierre Cartier established the New York City branch in 1909, moving in 1917 to 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 the rest of his life, and Jeanne Toussaint, who was Director of Fine Jewellery from 1933. After the death of Pierre Cartier in 1964, Jean-Jacques Cartier (Jacques’s son), Claude Cartier (Louis’s son), and Marionne Claudelle (Pierre’s daughter); both of whom respectively headed the Cartier affiliates in London, New York and Paris; sold the businesses. Today the Cartier brand is renowned the world over for high quality jewellery and related items.
Special notes: This watch is one of the earliest known examples of Cartier’s inexpensive range of wristwatches, later to come together under the umbrella name of ‘Le Must’ collection which started in 1972. An interesting and important wristwatch.
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