Cartier Panthere Small Model 18k Yellow Gold Unworn Full Set
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Cartier Panthere Small Model 18k Yellow Gold Unworn Full Set
About the Design
Panthère de Cartier Watch
Even as luxury timepieces go, the Panthère de Cartier watch boasts an impressive list of admirers: Madonna sported a gold one while filming Evita in the early 1990s; Gwyneth Paltrow wore a steel model to the 1997 premiere of Boogie Nights and — despite its launch as a woman’s timepiece — the Panthère also graced the wrists of Keith Richards and Pierce Brosnan in the 1980s and 1990s.
Cartier first released the watch in gold and two-tone options in 1983 and then added a steel version in 1991. Its stylistic history, however, dates back much further.
In 1904, Louis Cartier (1875–1942), the grandson of Cartier founder Louis-François Cartier, designed the legendary jewelry house's first men's wristwatch — and, indeed, the world’s first pilot's timepiece — a leather-strapped model for his friend Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. Cartier’s design was functional above all else; the wearable version was far more practical for in-flight consultation than the pocket watches of the era. In 1911, Cartier released the Santos de Cartier watch, which was modeled after Santos-Dumont’s original and bears a rounded square face that is undoubtedly familiar to modern-day admirers of the Panthère.
When the Panthère watch emerged many decades later, during the 1980s — panther spots made an appearance on a women's watch in as early as 1914 — Cartier had already long been recognized as a manufacturer of haute horlogerie, which refers to the highest standard in watchmaking. In addition to the Santos, the luxury jewelry house had released the Tank, Baguette, Tortue and Maxi Oval watches. The Panthère was a seductive new addition to Cartier’s stable: Its rounded square face shape and visible bezel screws, paired with Cartier’s signature serifed Roman numerals, made it feel at once modern and classic.
After the timepiece was discontinued in the early 2000s, vintage Cartier Panthère watches remained considerably valuable in resale, and in 2017, it made its triumphant return. Cartier now offers dozens of versions of the timepiece, including double- and triple-wrap bracelets, a series of cuffs and a diamond-encrusted panther spot version. Although some early 2000s models have date boxes, they are absent on most vintage and all current models, which run on a standard quartz movement.
For Panthère enthusiasts, it’s the most comfortable Cartier on the market, and understandably so: In addition to its curved lugs, the Panthère boasts a strap comprised of much smaller and slightly rounded links than Cartier’s other models, lending it a silky, sultry, almost serpentine movement on the wrist — much like its namesake animal.
About the Designer
For its extraordinary range of bracelets, watches, rings and other adornments, French luxury house Cartier is undeniably one of the most well known and internationally revered jewelers in the world among clients both existing and aspirational.
Perhaps 1847 was not the ideal time to open a new watchmaking and jewelry business, as the French Revolution was not kind to the aristocracy who could afford such luxuries. Nevertheless, it was the year Louis-François Cartier (1819–1904) — who was born into poverty — founded his eponymous empire, assuming control of the workshop of watchmaker Adolphe Picard, under whom he had previously been employed as an assistant. Of course, in the beginning, it was a relatively modest affair, but by the late 1850s, Cartier had its first royal client, Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, niece of Napoleon Bonaparte, who commissioned the jeweler to design brooches, earrings and other accessories.
Under the leadership of Louis-François’s son, Alfred, who took over in 1874, business boomed. Royalty around the world wore Cartier pieces, including Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, the Maharaja of Patiala and King Edward VII, who had 27 tiaras made by the jewelry house for his coronation in 1902 and issued Cartier a royal warrant in 1904. (Today, the British royal family still dons Cartier pieces; Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, regularly sports a Ballon Bleu de Cartier watch.)
Cartier’s golden years, however, began when Alfred introduced his three sons, Louis, Pierre and Jacques, to the business. The brothers expanded Cartier globally: Louis reigned in Paris, Pierre in New York and Jacques in London, ensuring their brand’s consistency at their branches across the world. The trio also brought in such talents as Charles Jacqueau and Jeanne Toussaint.
One of Cartier’s earliest major successes was the Santos de Cartier watch — one of the world's first modern wristwatches for men. (Previously, a large number of people were using only pocket watches.) Louis designed the timepiece in 1904 for his friend, popular Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, who wanted to be able to check the time more easily while flying.
Cartier’s other famous timepieces include the Tank watch, which was inspired by the linear form of military tanks during World War I, and the so-called mystery clocks. Invented by watchmaker and magician Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin and later crafted exclusively for Cartier in the house’s workshop by watchmaker Maurice Couët, the mystery clocks were so named because the integration of glass dials on which the clocks’ hands would seemingly float as well as structures that are hidden away within the base give the illusion that they operate without machinery.
On the jewelry side of the business, Cartier’s internationally renowned offerings include the Tutti Frutti collection, which featured colorful carved gemstones inspired by Jacques’s trip to India and grew in popularity during the Art Deco years; the panthère motif, which has been incorporated into everything from brooches to rings; and the Love bracelet, a minimal, modernist locking bangle inspired by medieval chastity belts that transformed fine jewelry.
While the Cartier family sold the business following the death of Pierre in 1964, the brand continues to innovate today, renewing old hits and creating new masterpieces.
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