Cartier’s history is tied to the pioneering spirit of its founder Louis-François Cartier, when in 1847, he took charge of his master’s jewellery workshop in Paris. A passion nurtured by the family for years. Nowadays it is part of the Richemont Group. What were the fundamental choices for its growth? The third generation of the Cartier family had very ambitious projects for the Maison and a vision based on values that went beyond family ties. Already by 1933, when Louis Cartier decided to retire from the business, he entrusted the running of the Maison to Jeanne Toussaint, who although not part of the family was in his eyes the best person for the role. So we can say that from that day, although the Maison was still property of the Cartier family, it was decided to pass the leadership on to the most competent people around, with the aim of making the company grow in line with the founders’ policies. In short, a change in management did not bring about a change in the Maison’s values, which brought success and created Cartier’s story: a unique style, recognisable by everyone and by its relevant creations. Cartier has always had exceptional clients, from the royal world (kings, empresses, princes, princesses and duchesses) to that of show business (the emblematic “Taylor-Burton” diamond). What has made Cartier jewels so sought after? I think that it’s the excellence of the creations in terms of style, the quality of the materials and the savoir-faire in creating a rapport between clients and the Maison: for every exceptional client and every exceptional occasion, there is an exceptional item of jewellery. Also, Cartier has always been the source of economic transactions of illustrious pieces. Our clients know that the Maison is the right place to find exceptional jewellery. Particularly, we have been a link between the historical jewels of Old Europe and the new continents, first America then Asia. In 1904 the Maison created the first wristwatch for the pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont. Today it is a leader in fine watch making and Tortue, Tank, Baignoire, Panthère, Pasha recall the “Cartier era”. How have they become class archetypes? Cartier has always been considered pioneers of wristwatches; therefore it already has strong credibility in this field. The Maison is tied, in the people’s imagination - and with good reason -, to the creative watch in terms of form, effectively since 1904. It is precisely this creativity that continues to set us apart from all other watchmakers, and allows us to lead in this field even today. Obviously we’re not talking about volumes, production, materials or movements, I’m referring to the creativity and the originality of the models. The art of Cartier jewellery blossomed in 1906 with Art Déco jewels, and then in 1924 passed to one of the brand’s most famous creations, the Trinity. Followed by Must de Cartier in the 70s and more recent exquisite creations. What artistic ability has made Cartier’s know-how famous around the world? We are continuously searching for excellence in savoir-faire. Our craftsmen are trained in-house for several years in order to raise them up to our level of requirements and our standards. Our savoir-faire is not only based on aesthetics, our aim is to also create pieces that are a pleasure to wear, comfortable, in movement. The Cartier piece is exhalted by the fluidity of the material, the manner in which the pieces are structured, with flexibility. The piece needs to take the body’s shape, so we focus on pleasure just as much as aesthetics.
Collezione Orologi Alta Gioielleria 2012. Temps Moderne de Cartier. Cassa in oro bianco 18 carati. 508 brillanti (circa 3,7 carati). Sotto, da sinistra. Spilla con pantera, 1949. Questa pantera è il secondo tridimensionale esempio che Cartier ha fatto per la duchessa di Windsor. Spilla in platino, opale, smeraldo e diamanti. Anello Sortilège della collezione Cartier.
Cartier has successfully differentiated its business: the burgundy leather goods, pens, scarves, perfumes, glasses and gift items. Different products united by the exclusivity of the brand… Since its creation in 1847, the Maison has positioned itself as “gioielliere, orefice e marchand de nouveautés” which means that it sold all types of objects. Jacques Cartier, on the occasion of the French Arts Exhibition in Cairo in 1929, gave an interview in which he explained that the Maison’s vocation was to create the most luxurious finery with the most beautiful stones, up to small combs that women can slip into their handbag. It is important that the aesthetics and the savoir-faire give the object all the necessary elegance and preciousness. From the beginning until now the Cartier vision has remained the same. Since 1989, Cartier has owned a private collection that has been increased in size by buying pieces privately or at international auctions. Of the 1360 pieces, which, in your opinion, best reflects the historical and stylistic importance of the Maison? A platinum tiara in “halo” style comes to mind. Platinum is a very important innovation for Cartier, and the “halo” is a style that the Maison invented - a return to Neoclassicism at the height of the Art Nouveau period. I would choose Queen Elizabeth of Belgium’s platinum tiara in “halo” style, created in 1910 and later adapted especially for her in a bandeau style in 1912, in other words it was worn on the forehead instead of on top of the head - an avant-garde style for it’s time - which was later popularised after the First World War. The “Cartier Tradition” division was created from the private collection, a long experience of marketing and sales of the creations produced before 1970. What type of clientele does it cater to? Cartier Tradition involves all types of clientele. Historical pieces are becoming increasingly more interesting to lovers of beautiful objects and jewellery, without distinction, and the majority of the time it’s love at first sight. The pieces can be bought from our boutiques that stock fine jewel- lery (the Milan-Montenapoleone and Rome boutiques in Italy). There are also particular occasions where more extensive stock is presented in select boutiques around the world or in some showrooms, just think of the Antiques Biennial in Paris. Obviously the Cartier Tradition collection is very limited because the pieces are always harder to find, and are acquired by us only when we are sure that we will be able to restore them respecting the techniques of the time. How many of the Maison’s boutiques are there around the world? It is present even in the most important international airports. Is special attention paid to airport travel retail? We are present in 300 boutiques around the world and in a selection of airports: those who reserve extremely high quality spaces for a Maison like ours. We are very careful about the type of environment in which we can place an airport boutique, just as we are when it comes to a city: we always choose a location that suits us depending on the area, the street and often even the position that the boutique would occupy on that street. From your experience in this universe of elegance, how do you see the future of watch making and jewellery for the Maison? I’m very optimistic in the sense that hand-crafted items, and more generally those which convey the idea of exception and culture, are always more recognised and valued. Today more than ever, the concept of technical knowhow is important and necessary to create exceptional products from an aesthetic and stylistic point of view. Particularly, watch and jewellery making perfectly fit into this tendency - there’s a high demand for these objects. Therefore we constantly develop our traditional savoir-faire and our craft. We try to use new and unexpected materials with innovative working techniques, like the use of straw or mosaics in our watches or even the plique à jour enamel in our jewellery creations for the Antiques Biennial (translucent enamel in a fine metal structure). We look towards the future with confidence thanks to our unique style and our capacity for innovation, without forgetting the Maison’s exceptional heritage.