The History of Cartier Eyewear

Since the mid-19th century, Cartier's history has been closely related to art, luxury and elegance. The legend of it includes jewels such as the Bestiary diamond necklace for the Indian maharash Yadavindra Singh or the first practical wristwatch, the Santos. Elements that even today continue to inspire some of the French brand's collections.

In 1894, Louis-Francois, the founder of the Cartier house, returns from Russia where he had just achieved a historic collaboration with Carl Faberge. At the same time, his nephew Louis was entering the world of jewelry as a brilliant and creative designer.
In the Paris of the Second Empire, in 1898, when the entire city was being rebuilt according to Baron Haussmann's urban plans, Cartier settled on the Italian boulevard, buying a store at the prestigious Rue de la Paix, number 13.

From humble origins, Pierre Cartier fought in the Napoleonic wars and was captured and imprisoned in Portsmouth prison. In 1815, at the age of 28, he returned to Paris penniless and without a plan. He found work as a metal worker and married a laundress with whom he had five children. Fresh out of school, he sent his eldest son Louis-François to work as an apprentice in a jewelry workshop.
Hard work combined with Louis-François' bold decision to buy the workshop from his master at the right time while he took control of it, set the family on the path to building the Cartier empire. This is how the first family jewelry workshop was born in 1847 in the midst of dark times and with the French Revolution in progress.


Cartier envisioned the future of jewelry as a service to a new clientele made up of the elite of the time. The house was constantly receiving visits from millionaires and aristocrats, including the Rockefeller family, Morgan and Vanderbilt. The commercial talent of Louis-François revealed to all his buyers that he had power in his hands thanks to his jewels and creations, and he was convinced that the American tycoons were going to spend their fortunes to be able to “shyly” enter society. . He has not been wrong.
Cartier rose to fame in the early 20th century, receiving several royal patents and becoming one of the most sought after royal and prestigious jewelry brands in the world.

Avant-garde artists like Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes caught his attention and his creative flair inspired him to create mysterious clocks or invent the first wristwatch in 1904 for his friend Alberto Santos-Dumont, to wear while piloting. The rare new watch at that time, has become a must-have fashion accessory among modern men, quickly replacing pocket watches.