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05/22/2024
 4 minutes

Why are Cartier watches so expensive?

By Jorg Weppelink
Cartier-2-1

Why are Cartier watches so expensive?

The name Cartier has a magical ring. The Parisian brand is a leading luxury brand admired by people all over the world. But what is it that makes Cartier so special? In this article, we’ll try to find out why Cartier is such a prestigious and expensive brand. We’ll also look at the recent surge in popularity that has sparked price increases and interest in some classic Cartier models. It’s time to find out why Cartier is such a special brand.

What makes Cartier so special?

Asking why Cartier is special is easy. Answering that question is more complicated. A combination of unique factors gives Cartier its universal appeal. Let’s look at some main factors contributing to the brand’s attraction.

It all starts with the company’s remarkable history. As some may know, Cartier was founded in 1847 as a jewelry brand. From the beginning, Cartier created unique pieces for French royalty and members of Parisian high society. This clientele soon expanded to include international royalty and celebrities around the world, cementing Cartier’s name as the jeweler of the rich and famous. This link with kings and queens and high society has endured, giving Cartier an unmatched appeal when it comes to luxury and prestige.

Cartier Santos Dumont Image: Zeitauktion
Cartier Santos Dumont (Image: Zeitauktion)

Another factor that sets Cartier apart is its designs. Since the Maison designed its first watch for the famous aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, the Cartier style has always been unique. Although there has been a great diversity over the decades, all Cartier timepieces are instantly recognizable. The moment you see one of its outstanding designs combined with a silver dial and Roman numerals, you know you’ve got a Cartier. The Cartier style has become synonymous with luxury, creative freedom, and a remarkable pioneering spirit.

Throughout its history, Cartier has produced high-end luxury timepieces for those who could afford them, and exclusively in precious metals such as gold and platinum, adding even more luxury. It wasn’t until the quartz crisis of 1978 that Cartier redirected its watchmaking and began producing stainless steel watches with quartz movements. Today, the brand’s collection is a healthy mix of stainless steel and the continued use of precious metals, the third important factor that makes Cartier such a special brand.

Are Cartier watches expensive?

A classic: The Cartier Tank
A classic: The Cartier Tank Américaine

Despite being one of the most renowned luxury brands in the world, Cartier is not one of the most expensive. While it does create expensive timepieces, the average Cartier watch is more affordable than the average Rolex or Omega. The company has always been modest when it comes to movements, especially when compared to, say, Patek Philippe or Audemars Piguet, focusing more on functional timekeeping and less on mechanical wizardry. Cartier’s relatively simple quartz and mechanical movements contribute to its affordability.

You can buy a stainless steel Cartier for between $3,000 and $10,000. Prices rise to between $10,000 and $15,000 for precious metal models, and tens of thousands for more exclusive precious metal timepieces with complicated movements. This makes Cartier watches relatively affordable compared to the competition. After all, we’re still talking about luxury timepieces that cost a lot of money. But in this context, Cartier remains an accessible brand.

How Cartier Prices Have Changed in Recent Years

Thanks to Cartier’s rise in popularity, we’ve also seen a massive increase in pre-owned watch prices for some popular and sought-after models. In particular, the Tank and Santos have gone up significantly in price, and fan favorites like the Tank Louis Cartier, Tank Solo, Tank Must, Tank Basculante, Santos Galbée, and Crash have all increased in price over the last two years.

This is a remarkable trend, especially considering that the overall market has slowed significantly. Part of this trend is due to the fact that popular Rolex and Omega watches have become essentially unattainable. The relative affordability of Cartier timepieces and the brand’s incredible appeal have also helped make it one of the biggest success stories in the watch industry in recent years.

It is the first watch that comes to your mind thinking about indefinable watch shapes: the Cartier Crash.
Probably the first watch that comes to mind when you think of distinctive watch shapes is the Cartier Crash.

Are Cartier watches worth the money?

This brings us to our final question. Are Cartier watches worth the money? While the answer to this question is highly subjective, some observations are worth mentioning. Cartier is one of the most prestigious watch brands in the world. I would argue that, after Rolex, it’s the number two watch brand in terms of global luxury appeal. When you wear a Cartier, you’re wearing a statement of style, class, and sophistication.

You can buy most of the brand’s watches at reasonable prices, despite their extraordinary rise in popularity. Only the rare, sought-after models command high prices because they’ve become collector’s items. And that makes Cartier an interesting brand to explore. With a myriad of iconic models and many brilliant executions, there will always be a Cartier that’s worth the money.


About the Author

Jorg Weppelink

Hi, I'm Jorg, and I've been writing articles for Chrono24 since 2016. However, my relationship with Chrono24 goes back a bit longer, as my love for watches began …

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