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Cartier: Perfect Precision
The venerable and prestigious Cartier Society is known worldwide for its fine jewelry and watches. Its history goes back to 1847, when the company was created by Louis-Francois Cartier in Paris, France. The company is still making goods of exquisite quality today, even expanding their repertoire to include fragrances.
The Cartier Family
The house of Cartier was started in 1847, but it was not he that would make the family business famous worldwide. But like his descendants, he built a name for his company by producing jewelry of unsurpassed quality. He passed this talent to his son Alfred, who continued the tradition when he brought in Louis-Francois’s grandsons. It was the grandson, Louie, in particular who gave the Cartier name everlasting fame when he created the first wristwatch in 1904.
In that year, airplanes were the greatest new thing, and people were very eager to expand this technology. A Brazilian pilot, Albert Santos-Dumont, happened to be a friend of Louie Cartier, and told the watchmaker how difficult it was to use the standard pocket watch while flying a plane. Cartier’s solution was to create a flat, square watch that could be worn on the wrist with a leather strap, which he called the Santos. This was the first men’s wristwatch created by Cartier, but not the last, by far.
Louis Cartier was an innovator, standing out even among the talented craftsmen of the house of Cartier. Some of the greatest designs the company has ever made are attributed to him, such as his highly popular art deco wristwatches, or the brightly colored Tutti Fruitti jewels.
During that period, the Cartier brand expanded rapidly, establishing branches in New York, St. Petersburg, and London. The year 1912 saw the creation of the Tortue and Baignoire watch models, which are still produced today. Many designs created by Louis Cartier are still classics of the watch industry.
The house of Cartier remained in Cartier hands for quite some time, but when Pierre Cartier, the last of Louis-Francois’s grandsons, passed on in 1964, the family sold the business. The new owners were devoted to making sure the Cartier name continued to stand for excellence. They expanded the brand to include pens, scarves, and leather in the 1970s, with fragrances to follow in 1981. Their fragrances have the same amazing craftsmanship as their watches, meticulously designed to create something unique.
The first Cartier fragrance, Must de Cartier, is a oriental fragrance for women with notes of green mandarin, peach, lemon, bergamot, and pineapple for a sweet refreshing feel, but also transfused with carnation, orchid, jasmine, rose, and ylang-ylang for a thoroughly feminine aroma. Touches of leather, vanilla, civit, and musk give it a subtle allure, and add to its appealing complexity. All of this is in a Cartier perfume for daily wear.
Their first men’s cologne was named Santos de Cartier after the aviator and the first wristwatch. This is also a daily wear fragrance, sharp and spicy and woody for a heady masculine scent. While it can be worn every day, it is especially suited for evenings or cold weather, with its deeply warm aroma. The perfume contains notes of galbanum, patchouli, amber, and sandalwood. Both Must de Cartier and Santos de Cartier were launched in 1981.
Panthere de Cartier, launched in 1987, is exotic, a spicy, fruity blend, with tones of wood and flowers. It has a definite classical touch to it. This luxuriously warm fragrance is like being wrapped in the softest blanket on a chilly night. The fruity top notes of grapefruit and tangerine are heated up by spicy pepper and ginger, and touched with incense and rose. Exotic oriental flowers like gardenia, jasmine, narcissus, ylang-ylang, and others bloom in the heart, grounded by vetiver and spiced up by nutmeg. The base contains patchouli, musck, civet, cedar, amber, and vanilla, among other notes.
The Modern Cartier Society
The Cartier Society still holds offices in London, Paris, and New York, but their influence is felt far beyond those cities. The work of Cartier has been featured in museums and displayed among some of the great works of art known in the world today. Celebrities and royalty have bought their jewelry, from the United Kingdom to Monaco to Egypt to Romania to Siam, and many more.
Today’s Cartier retains as partial owner the young granddaughter of Pierre Cartier. The revived and renewed Cartier Society may one day climb to even greater heights than its known in the past.