Though Cartier’s watchmaking history is indeed rich, and has long been synonymous with widespread popularity, the brand is undeniably enjoying a moment in the sun as of late. With a newfound following amongst younger generations, along with collectors previously more focused on pieces from Patek Philippe, sporting a rare Cartier Tank or even a Cartier Crash has never been more in vogue. Today, we explore the development of this latest watch collecting pandemonium, along with the key pieces and figures responsible for the new renown. 

Photo via mrwatchley.com

Like many other brands experiencing new attention and appreciation, the recent reverence for modern Cartier timepieces can in part be attributed to the premiums at which desirable models from Rolex and Patek Philippe have been trading at. Unsurprisingly, when faced with popular references trading at multiples of their suggested retail prices, some buyers and clients have broadened their collecting horizons, and for many, the logical answer to the question of what to buy next was Cartier. 

Rihanna wearing a new Cartier Santos in yellow gold. Photo via GQ.

At the vintage end of the spectrum, Cartier’s popularity uptick can be traced back to similar sources with a twist, so to speak. Though vintage timepieces by Cartier have never truly been affordable, they grew to appear so following the continual appreciation of similarly design-focused, early Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Rolex references in years past. In search of a perhaps under appreciated market segment, collectors wisely began investing further into the pioneering designs which have come to define the brand, and for good reason. 

An important, early Cartier produced for Blancpain, as auctioned by Monaco Legend Group.

With that said, it could be argued that the bulk of the brand’s new appeal comes as a direct result of a new generation’s attention. Focused on fashion, culture, and aesthetics like never before, millennial and generation Z buyers have recognized Cartier’s immense significance to the history of wristwatch design, while also noting the jeweller and watchmaker’s illustrious clientele throughout history. This star-studded list includes the likes of Jacqueline Lee "Jackie" Kennedy Onassis, Muhammad Ali, Princess Diana, and Andy Warhol, surely reinforcing the notion that Cartier is fit for the most discerning and distinguished. 

Princess Diana of Wales wearing the Cartier Tank

Amongst the new generation, Cartier has attracted the likes of celebrities wishing to channel to aesthetic appeal of icons past. This new class of celebrity collector includes Tyler, The Creator, who’s not only been spotted on wearing a Cartier Crash on several occasions, but was also recently seen attending the Monaco Legend Group’s thematic sale of vintage Cartier watches. Other Cartier owners of note include Rihanna, who’s been known to wear the Santos and Panthère de Cartier models, and Kate Middleton who wears a Ballon Bleu, reinforcing Cartier’s seemingly never-ending appeal amongst Royal families.  

A Cartier Crash, as seen in Tyler, The Creator's latest music video.

Ultimately, this sort of new attention and appeal is nothing but beneficial to watch collecting and trading as a whole, in that it speaks to the further diversification of tastes in what’s without question a market in need of less reliance on Rolex, Audemars Piguet, and Patek Philippe solely. With all this in mind, trade Cartier with confidence!