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Cartier vs Omega

You’ve narrowed down your choices. You have decided to purchase either an Omega or a Cartier wristwatch. You just need a little bit more information to push your decision across the finish line. In this article, we will explore the histories of two of the most recognizable watch brands in the world. On the way, we will compare a few models side by side and then answer some often-asked questions regarding the two watch powerhouses.

The Omega Watch Brand

Omega is a Swiss luxury timepiece counted amongst the ten most recognizable brands worldwide. Omega was founded in 1848 by Louis Brandt in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland. The watch company did not incorporate the “Omega” name until 1894 and even then it was known as a combination of Brandt and Omega.

In 1885 the “Labrador” caliber movement was created which had superb accuracy and significant technological advancements. This movement would become the basis for the 19-ligne Omega caliber that would revolutionize watchmaking roughly ten years later. Omega created the first-minute repeater for the wrist in 1892, and then the Omega brand was officially birthed with the 19-ligne movement.

The movement was very accurate and groundbreaking in that every component could be replaced without modification by any watchmaker in the world. It also boasted advancements in winding the watch, using a stem and crown.

The early 1900s found Omega making great inroads into the timing for sports events. In 1932, Omega set timekeeping precision records in all six trials at the Geneva Observatory. The Omega watches tested performed more accurately (through various conditions) than any other brand competing. They also prototyped the first automatic movement that used two weights.

Omega and the Olympic Games

In 1932, Omega was the first watchmaker to time an entire Olympic Games. This was done with their chronograph model and times were scored to 1/100th of a second. Another milestone was achieved in 1936 when Omega’s 477 mm. Caliber movement set a world precision record by scoring 97.8 points out of 100 at the Kew Observatory. The movement was 2.2 points away from perfection; this record stands to this day.

The mid-1900s saw Omega developing watches for military applications. These watches require a high level of water resistance, be extremely shockproof, and have to be highly antimagnetic. The company continued to make great strides in all of these areas. In 1947, the first Omega tourbillon was launched to great reception amongst the watchmaking community.

Unlike the conventional tourbillon movements where the cages rotated once every minute, the Omega rotated once every 7.5 minutes. This provided greater accuracy leading to the movement being recognized as the most accurate recorded timepiece in 1949. A great development in the area of sports timing was achieved with the creation of the “Magic Eye.”

This innovation was the use of photoelectric cells to capture the exact moment an athlete crossed the finish line tape. Since the elasticity of the tape was so poor, there were often inaccuracies in the final time recorded for any particular event. This innovation solved this problem.

1948 saw the introduction of the first Seamaster model and over the next ten years the Constellation, Deville, and the Ladymatic automatic women’s wristwatch were all introduced. Omega also created a professional line of watches which included the Speedmaster, the Seamaster 300, and the Railmaster.

The “Moon Watch”

Omega watch movements

Another iconic chapter in Omega’s history was the development of the “Moon” watch. This watch was launched in 1957. In 1962, it became the first watch in space when Wally Schirra wore it for the Mercury Mission on Oct. 3rd of that year.  Nasa subsequently qualified the watch for manned missions in 1965, and astronaut Buzz Aldrin wore it when he walked on the moon on July 21, 1969. Thus Omega became known as “The First Watch on the Moon.”

In 1999, Omega released the first practical new watch escapement in 250 years. The co-axial escapement was a turning point in mechanical watchmaking. By using smaller contact surfaces the co-axial escapement produces less friction and requires less lubrication making it far more reliable than traditional movements.

2008 Omega created the Si14 balance spring to resist the ever-increasing threat of magnetic forces watch wearers encounter in today’s world. Named after its chemical symbol and the atomic number of silicon, the new spring significantly reduces deviation and improves chronometric stability. In 2013, the co-axial 8508 caliber movement was brought to market with a magnetic resistance of 15,000 gauss.

The creative use of antimagnetic materials in the movement meant that there was no need for a protective inner case paving the way to being able to incorporate additional features such as a date wheel and the watch could have a skeletal back. Rounding out this rich history was the development of an ultradeep wristwatch that is water-resistant to 6000 meters or approximately 20,000 feet.

Trademarked Specialty Alloys and Materials

Omega has garnered a high reputation in the development of trademarked materials incorporated into the parts used in their movements and for use in the manufacture of their cases and bracelets. Besides conventional materials such as 316L stainless steel, aluminum, 18-carat yellow, and white gold, ceramics, the highest quality diamonds, and mother of pearl, Omega has developed the following exclusive materials;

  1. Liquid Metal- Since 2010, ceramics have been bonded with this alloy (composed of titanium, zirconium, and copper). The result is a material that is three times harder than steel and provides superior scratch resistance and stability offering new decoration possibilities.
  2. Grade 2 Titanium- an alloy material that is light, corrosion resistant, biochemically inert, and able to withstand very high temperatures. Its dim gray color is used primarily in brushed finishes and is particularly effective in limiting light reflection.
  3. Red Gold- A combination of 18-carat yellow gold, copper, and silver. The finished product is highly non-corrosive and biochemically inert.
  4. Bronze Gold- a bronze alloy composed of 37.5% 9-carat gold, palladium, and silver. This alloy makes the bronze easy to wear on the skin. It offers corrosion resistance without oxidation and will age very slowly and maintain its natural patina over time.
  5. Sedna Gold- Introduced in 2012 and is a combination of 18-carat yellow gold, copper, and palladium giving it its signature rose color. Highly resistant to fading.
  6. Moonshine Gold- Created in 2019, the 18-carat yellow gold is combined with silver, copper, and palladium and is also highly resistant to fading. The trademarked name is inspired by the shining moonlight in a dark blue sky.
  7. Canopus Gold- Developed in 2015 and comprised of 18-carat white gold, platinum, rhodium, and palladium. It is distinguished by its high brilliance, whiteness, and longevity. It is named after the bright star Canopus which is 71x bigger and 10,000x brighter than the sun. Because of its brilliance and position, it is a vital navigational and positional reference point.
  8. Ceragold- The first product to allow the decoration of ceramic watch parts with 18-carat gold.
  9. Meteorite- The use of lunar meteorites with irregular stone patterns that have been discovered here on earth.

METAS Certification

The major feature that distinguishes Omega watches from other brands is that each is a master chronometer. To achieve this classification, the movements are not just certified chronometers by the COSC (Swiss chronometer testing institute) for accuracy, but they are then put through more precision testing by METAS. METAS is the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology.

The movements are put through eight additional tests and must fall within certain parameters of accuracy. Whereas the COSC accepts results of -4/+6 seconds per day after the METAS tests the range is 0/+5, 0/+6, and 0/+7 seconds per day depending upon the caliber size of the movement.

The Omega watch line offers over 1000 models and has a starting retail price of approximately $2550.00. A basic “Rail Master” is about $4900.00, and a basic divers watch will run you about $5100.00. Women’s watches start at approximately $2550.00. There is great depth to the women’s selections with styles ranging from classic models to models adorned with diamonds and gemstones in solid gold.

There are four distinct subgroups within the collection:  Seamaster, Speedmaster, Constellation, and Deville. These groups are also made up of subgroups of assorted styles with choices that most would find appealing. Omega has many notable inventions and patents which it has acquired during its history. The company created the first Master Chronometer Tourbillon and presently offers four models that range from $137,000.00 to over $700,000.00 retail.

These handcrafted watches come with either manual winding or self-winding movements and range in case size from 38.7 mm. to 44 mm. These models are inspired by the first tourbillon wristwatch caliber Omega created in 1947. Additionally, Omega has been a mainstay on the silver screen with its prominent positioning in the James Bond movies of the last three decades.

Its commitment to the sponsorship of world-class sporting events, commitment to philanthropy, and practicing preservation and environmentally friendly practices have contributed to its reputation and success. Omega offers a five-year warranty on all of its timepieces making it comparable to Rolex in this respect.

Cartier-Yesterday and Today

Beautiful Cartier watch with two rings

In 1847 Louis Francois Cartier took over the workshop from his employer at the time Adolphe Picard. Though France was in the throes of the French revolution, Cartier built his company and, in 1859, opened the first Cartier boutique. While Cartier is a recognized and successful watch company, they are probably better known for jewelry and other high-end fashion designs.

Cartier, unlike Omega, is not just a luxury Swiss watchmaker but a brand that has prospered as a powerful and recognized name, as evidenced in Forbes magazine, ranking Cartier as one of the top 100 brands in the world. The watches, as well as the jewelry collection, have benefited from each other’s design, innovation, and creativity.

In 1847, Louis’s son Alfred took over the business from his dad and moved the Cartier boutique to the prestigious jewelry district in Paris. Alfred’s three sons, Louis, Pierre, and Jacques, were involved with the family business. While Alfred worked in Paris, his brothers sought to expand the family name to both London and New York.

While in Paris, Louis continued to grow Cartier’s reputation by incorporating revolutionary ideas such as using platinum in jewelry making. It was during this period that Cartier’s “Mystery Clocks” were developed in partnership with watchmaker Maurice Couet featuring transparent dials with hidden mechanisms. Due to Louis’s jewelry creations, King Edward Vll dubbed Cartier “Jeweller of Kings, Kings of Jewellers.”

The Creation of the Santos

In 1904, Louis’s friend Brazilian pioneer aviator Alberto Santos Dumont commissioned him to create a watch he could wear on his wrist when piloting his dirigible. At the time pocket watches were the only choice and Dumont found using a pocket watch while needing to use both his hands to control his dirigible was difficult and near impossible.

From this request, the Santos watch was born. This was Cartier’s first men’s wristwatch and due to Dumont’s celebrity, became a must-have accessory for men. Its flat shape and unique square bezel were instantly recognizable and proved successful for Cartier.

1907 saw Cartier sign an exclusive contract with Edmond Jaeger to supply movements for the Cartier watch line. By 1920, the two entities formed a joint company that had Jaeger continue to provide movements for the collection. In addition, movements from Audemars Pequot, Vacheron Constantin, and Movado were also used.

The Tank Watch is Born

A visit to the western front in 1917 inspired the formulation of what is one of Cartier’s most iconic styles, the Tank. The Tank was introduced in 1918 and entered full production in 1919 when six pieces were built. Its lines and proportions are similar to those of tanks used on First World War battlefields. Its strap is integrated into vertical sidebars giving it the distinctive and most replicated shape.

Louis Cartier died in 1942 but the company continued to flourish under new leadership over the watch and jewelry sides of the business. Cartier continued creating new and timeless jewelry pieces as well as growing the distribution of its watch collection over the next forty years.

The Panther collection was introduced in 1983 with its signature bracelet design, and shortly thereafter the Pasha watch was brought to market. The Pasha was somewhat of a departure from previous case styles and sported a distinctive oversized crown.

The interesting back story whether true or not is that the Pasha got its name because The Pasha of Marrakech commissioned Cartier to create a watch that he could swim with The first Pasha supposedly was the culmination of this request in 1933, but somehow the design fell through the cracks and was forgotten only to be resurrected in 1985. True or not, definitely an interesting story. The Roadster was introduced in 2002 and brought another successful design to the watch market.

Becoming a Swiss Watchmaking Powerhouse

The past twenty years have seen Cartier go through a large-scale transformation. Up until 2000 Cartier’s women’s watch sales exceeded men’s models, particularly in the USA. The women’s timepieces are as much a piece of jewelry as a watch and are gorgeous pieces that any woman would proudly wear. The transformation was the purchase of a facility to be able to design and manufacture every component in every Cartier watch.

A complete vertical integration under one roof. With this came a fresh mandate to produce superb quality mechanical and automatic movements. As one executive has been quoted, “Our main philosophy is to be creative, rather than complex,” with that said Cartier has captured the attention of the watchmaking community with the watches they have created featuring a host of complications, signature materials, and technological innovation. Three such models are the following:

  1. Ballon Bleu de Cartier (2007)
  2. Concept ID Collection- The ID One was introduced in 2009 and the present version, the ID Two in 2012. The watch utilizes a completely air-tight ceramic case made of Cartier’s patented Ceramist. Because the case is airtight there is little friction on any of the moving parts within the movement. The movement is made of titanium and is so precise that it requires no lubricating oils. The watch is also completely antimagnetic due to its fiberglass mainspring and carbon crystal balance.
  3. Drive de Cartier Flying Tourbillon.

To read an excellent article that goes into great depth about this transformation at Cartier. Since 2018, Cartier quartz models are outfitted with a high-autonomy quartz in-house movement. This movement is highly efficient and has an autonomy of 8 years.

This is twice the length of traditional quartz movements. Cartier resized and reworked the movement to reduce overall energy consumption. The new movement is combined with a new high-performance battery that is more water resistant and boasts a longer life. The new battery has 5% more capacity and discharges at half the rate of previous batteries. 

The Cartier family controlled the company until 1964 when they sold the business. In 1872, a group of investors led by Robert Hocq purchased Cartier Paris and subsequently added Cartier London in 1974, and Cartier New York in 1976. It was during this period that Hocq coined the phrase “Le Must de Cartier.” When translated, becomes “Cartier, it’s a must”.

In other words, if you are a purveyor of luxury and taste then you must own a Cartier. The slogan has stuck and has become synonymous with the brand. Today, Cartier is owned by the vast conglomerate the Richemont Group which acquired it in 2012. One of Cartier’s most respected qualities is its commitment to giving back and its philanthropic endeavors.  It is worth visiting the company website to review the many organizations that they partner with around the world.

Many countries in Africa, South America, and throughout the world have benefitted from Cartier’s generosity and desire to make a difference. Giving career and educational opportunities, and providing life-sustaining services to people who are considered “the least of these,” is the pinnacle of using their great success to give back and improve the human condition. Cartier is a classy brand with a big heart.

Cartier Tank vs. Omega Deville Prestige

The Cartier Tank is one of the most iconic watches in the brand’s treasury of timepieces. As mentioned the first Tank was created in 1919. Today’s model continues to be characterized by the original flat case design and distinctive crown topped with a synthetic or sapphire blue cabochon. The basic model in stainless steel strap is available in three sizes.

The smallest case measures 29.5 mm. X 22 mm. and is 6.6 mm. Thick. This is a women’s size case and comes in either a high autonomy quartz or a photovoltaic solar beat movement. The photovoltaic solar beat movement is a new innovation for Cartier. The movement receives light through the dial, particularly the Roman numerals feeding the photovoltaic cells.

It is estimated that the watch will last sixteen years before recommended servicing. Cartier wanted to introduce an elegant, easy-to-wear version of the Tank that needed minimal service and provided minimal environmental impact. Even the non-animal strap is made of scraps of apples grown for the food industry.
The Tank watch has a beaded crown with a synthetic cabochon-shaped spinel, silver dial, and blued steel hands.

The watch is water resistant to 30 meters and is completed with a black calfskin strap with a steel buckle on the high autonomy choice or a non-animal black, blue, or light green strap on the photovoltaic solar beat version. Each retails for approximately $2790.00. The next largest case selection measures 33.7 mm. X 25.5 mm. and also measures 6.6 mm. In thickness. All of the above attributes carry through as standard to the basic model and it is outfitted with a high autonomy quartz movement with a black leather strap.

The approximate retail price is $2930.00. The third Tank is the Large model and measures 41 mm. X 31 mm. and measures 6.6 mm. in height. This model varies from the others in that it has a mechanical automatic caliber 1847 MC movement and a calendar window at the 6 o’clock position. Approximate retail $4200.00 with a black calfskin strap with steel buckle. All three case sizes are also available with a stainless steel bracelet instead of a strap. The approximate retail prices of each model are as follows:

  1. Tank Small – $3200.00
  2. Tank Medium (referred to large on the website) – $3350.00
  3. Tank Large – $4650.00

There are several other variations of the Cartier Tank available through the company in various dials, materials, and styles but I have limited my choice for comparison to the base model.

The Omega Deville Prestige is part of the Deville collection and numbers over 400 distinct models. There truly is something here for everyone to choose from. The basic Prestige Co-Axial Master Chronometer measures 40 mm. in diameter, 19 mm. between the lugs, and has a thickness of 9.9 mm. The case is made of stainless steel and is water resistant to 30 meters. The watch features a domed PVD dial with sun-brushed finishes. You may choose from five different dial colors:

  1. Pine Green
  2. Blue
  3. Silver
  4. Black with PVD SEDNA gold colored hands with alternating Roman numerals and cabochon indexes
  5. Rhodium Gray with the same gold treatments available with the black dial

In addition, the outer edge of the dial features a railway minute track, enhancing the appearance of the dial, and a date window at the six o’clock position. The front sapphire crystal has been enhanced with anti-reflective treatment. There is a see-through crystal on the back of the case to view the beautiful movement.

At the heart of the watch is a Co-Axial caliber 8800 self-winding automatic movement. The movement features the Omega Co-Axial escapement, free-sprung balance with silicon balance spring, and auto winding capabilities in both directions.

The movement reflects rhodium-plated finishes with Geneve wave decorations. The movement vibrates at a frequency of 3.5 Hz and has a power reserve of 55 hours. The watch is also impervious to magnetic fields reaching 15,000 gauss.

The Deville Prestige will set you back about $4100.00. with an accompanying strap or $4400.00 with a stainless steel bracelet. Omega also offers a collection of women’s Deville Prestige models. They are available in a myriad of sizes. The basic model is available in a stainless steel case with a beautifully integrated steel bracelet. The watch has a diameter of 24.4 mm., a measurement between the lugs of 12 mm., and 6.6 mm. Thick.

It has a striking two-tone dial with Roman numerals at the 3, 6, 9, and 12 positions. A scratch-proof sapphire crystal protects the dial. The watch has an Omega caliber 1376 high precision quartz movement and the watch is water resistant to 30 meters.

The approximate retail price of this model is $2550.00. Along with the various choice in case sizes the women’s timepieces are available in steel and 18-carat gold, and all 18-carat yellow gold or red gold models with and without diamonds and options like mother-of-pearl dials.

Conclusion

In comparing the male models I would opt for the Omega on two counts. The number of features invested into the watch itself and secondly, its sleek and detailed dial and overall appearance. Don’t get me wrong, the Cartier Tank is a beautiful watch and after all,  bears the Cartier name which carries its own special cache and sends a message of sophistication, but it is a simple and somewhat unexciting timepiece. At similar price points, either would make a great choice, but I would give the advantage to the Omega.

Omega Aqua Terra vs Cartier Santos

The Aqua Terra is part of the Omega Seamaster collection. These models are water resistant to 150m. (approximately 500 ft.). Cases are constructed of 316L stainless steel and available in either a 41mm. or a 38mm. case. They house a caliber 8900 self-winding (automatic) movement with a power reserve of 60 hours, a scratch-proof sapphire crystal, and a transparent case back. There is a date window at the six o’clock position.

The mechanical self-winding Omega caliber 8900 movements has a Co-Axial escapement, free-sprung balance with silicon balance spring, two barrels mounted in series, and automatic winding in both directions. It has a time zone function and the rotors and bridges reflect rhodium plating with Geneva wave finishes. 

These watches are highly shock resistant and are tested with results that are equal to 5,000g (1g is equal to the force of gravity at the earth’s surface). Each Aqua Terra also benefits from the best antimagnetic resistant rating among all watches. Omega had set the new standard for this measure in a wristwatch. These watches are antimagnetic to fields reaching 15,000 gausses. A quick overview concerning this feature is as follows.

The International Standard (ISO769) defines basic magnetic resistance for watches as they must resist exposure to direct magnetic fields of 4,800 A/m (Amperes per meter). This is a minimal level and equivalent to about 60 gausses. Gauss is a measure of magnetic resistance that takes into consideration the magnetic permeability of the material being tested.

Technically, this is called magnetic flux density. The Aqua Terra is rated at 15,000 gausses (1.2 million A/m). To put that measure in perspective, it is the magnetic field given off by an MRI scanner.  The Aqua Terra comes in an array of colors. Each is earmarked by a horizontal “teak pattern” fashioned after the decks found on luxury sailboats and yachts. The colors are as follows:

  1. Silver with blackened hands and indexes filled with white Super-Luminova. There is an orange central seconds hand and the Seamaster wording is orange colored as well as the four-quarter markers on the minute track.
  2. Green with a sun-brushed finish and rhodium-plated hands and indexes filled with white Super-Luminova.
  3. Blue with rhodium-plated hands and indexes filled with white Super-Luminova.
  4. Black with rhodium-plated hands and indexes filled with white Super-Luminova.
  5. Gray with blued hands and indexes filled with white Super-Luminova.

The starting retail price for the Aqua Terra is $5400.00 for a strap model or $5700.00 for a model with a stainless steel bracelet. There are also several styles available for women starting at $5700.00.

The Cartier Santos Dumont is available as a base model in three sizes. The small case timepiece measures 38 mm. X 27.5 mm. and has a thickness of 7.3 mm. It is constructed of stainless steel and has a beaded crown set with a blue synthetic cabochon-shaped spinel. The dial is satin brushed silver with a sunray effect and features Roman numerals and blued steel hands.

A sapphire crystal protects the watch from scratches and it is water-resistant to 30 meters. It is powered by Cartier’s high-autonomy quartz movement. This model retails for approximately $3750.00. With a navy blue alligator strap with a steel buckle. The Large size Santos Dumont has a case measurement of 43.5 mm. X 31.4 mm. with a thickness of 7.3 mm.

It has all the same characteristics as the aforementioned, smaller, watch. This incarnation retails for approximately $4000.00. The extra-large Santos increases to a case size of 46.6 mm. X 33.9 mm. The watch is slightly thicker at 7.5 mm.

The one major difference is that this model has a hand-wound mechanical caliber 430 MC movement. All other features remain the same as the above models. The timepiece retails for about $6000.00

The Santos Dumont also comes in a completely stainless steel version. Here there are only two models to choose from. The medium-sized watch has a case width of 35.1 mm. and a height of 8.83 mm. The watch has a mechanical automatic caliber 1847 MC in-house movement and is water resistant to 100 meters. The crown is slightly different from the bracelet model.

The crown is seven-sided and set with a faceted synthetic spinel. The silvered opaline dial is accented with blued steel hands and black Roman numerals. A sapphire crystal protects the dial and the watch is completed with a rugged yet elegant stainless steel bracelet with a smart link adjustment system.

This watch will cost you approximately $6800.00. The large incarnation of this model measures 39.9 mm. overall and has a thickness of 9.38 mm. All technical aspects are the same as the medium-sized watch but will set you back around $7450.00.

Conclusion

I have personally come to a split decision concerning the better of the two models. I would own one of each if possible. Granted, the Santos Dumont in steel with a strap is not as exciting as perhaps one of the latest offerings in some of the rest of the collection, but for the price, there is a level of refinement and sophistication that makes this watch stand out.

It also is not a “sports watch” which would be a more applicable term applied to the Omega Aqua Terra. The Aqua Terra is a timepiece packed with features and ready for a trip to the office or a weekend of sports activities. It is also superior to the Santos in its water resistance. I believe each watch will appeal to a different potential client but both are worth a test drive at your watch store of choice.

FAQ’s

Is Omega better than Cartier?

With the advancements that Cartier has made in the past twenty years, bringing every aspect of the watchmaking process from conception to completion under one roof, I believe Cartier’s reputation as a watchmaker is well on its way to achieving greatness with the who’s who of the Swiss watchmaking community. Both are great brands with great histories of producing high-quality and innovative timepieces.

Do Cartier watches hold their value?

Over time a Cartier watch has the potential of depreciating less than other Swiss luxury brands. The Cartier name is so well regarded that there is always a secondary market for their watches.

Are Cartier watches worth the money?

This is a purely subjective determination you have to make. Given the labor and materials incorporated into many of the specialty or complicated watches, these are priced on par with similar highly sought-after luxury Swiss timepieces. There is much to be said about the craftsmanship and beauty of the Cartier collection coupled with its reputation for high fashion.

Does Omega have a better warranty?

Omega watches are warranted for five years. Cartier timepieces come with a two-year international warranty that may be extended to a total coverage of eight years if you register your purchase with “Cartier Care” and agree to certain caveats. The watch must be registered within the initial two years after the purchase period.

rolex vs cartier brand comparison

If you are into luxury watches and say that you’ve never heard of Rolex and Cartier, you are bound to be viewed with skepticism as everyone knows these brands, whether or not they can afford them! Rolex and Cartier are premium watch brands that are synonymous for generations for their distinction, class, and aesthetic. Owning one signifies many things to many people and they are a status symbol like no other for watch aficionados. 

Maybe you’re looking to buy one of these expensive watches. Choosing which brand to use could be challenging for you as there are so many to select from, each bringing something unique to the table that is worth researching depending on your particular interests. 

Perhaps you want to know which brand is the best. Again, this lies in the eyes of the beholder and is up to a spirited debate. In this post, we will compare Rolex vs. Cartier to find which one stands out as having the finest qualities. But first, let’s start with a background check and history of both the watchmakers.

History Of Rolex

3 Rolex watches on display

Theoretically, the history of Rolex started in 1905, when creator Hans Wilsdorf founded a London business focused on the distribution of watches. To understand the complete narrative, though, you must go back to 1903, when the businessman born in Germany first packed up and traveled over the pond with nothing but a dream in mind. This dream, as well documented, became a reality in quick succession. 

Approximately two years later, he and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis established the Wilsdorf and Davis business. Little did the couple realize that fame, money, and widespread praise awaited them just three years later. Wilsdorf experienced inspiration while traveling in one of London’s well-known double-decker buses.

Wilsdorf started sourcing the production of all Rolex timepieces from the legendary Maison Aegler in Bienne, Switzerland. Although the quality was excellent, Wilsdorf insisted that every component function flawlessly together. He worked hard to achieve this goal and was the first wristwatch vendor to receive an officially validated Chronometric Certification in 1910. 

Wilsdorf relocated Rolex from London to Geneva as England imposed a hefty 33% tax on custom imports, which impacted the firm. Tragic events occurred to the Wilsdorf family just one year before Rolex celebrated its 40th anniversary. Florence, Hans’ loving wife, went away unexpectedly. Wilsdorf never had kids with Florence and was orphaned when he was 12.

The Hans Wilsdorf Foundation acquired control of the business upon Wilsdorf’s death in 1960. Initially, the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation gave its earnings to organizations involved in the watch industry, including the Swiss Watchmaking Research Facility in Neuchâtel. As the 2010s began, the Foundation extended its influence by giving $100 million to the Geneva branch of HEAD, an applied arts college.

History Of Cartier

Beautiful Cartier watch with two rings

Louis-Francois Cartier started Cartier in Paris in 1847 after taking over his master’s factory. The first Cartier store was opened in 1859, despite the significant insecurity and uncertainty caused by the unfolding French Revolution. Cartier continued to prosper and flourish over the following ten years. Alfred Cartier, the son of Louis-Francois Cartier, took control of the firm in 1874. Alfred had far better business sense and aspirations of swiftly expanding the company than his father. 

Alfred played a crucial role in exposing Cartier to the royal families of Europe and beyond; King Edward VII was a particular fan of Cartier’s creations. Cartier saw tremendous success in the late 1800s, and in 1899 they finally erected a shop in the Rue de La Paix district of Paris. This was a pivotal move that shaped the success of the company for generations to come. 

Although Alfred successfully made Cartier the preferred choice of the French aristocracy, his sons Louis, Pierre, and Jacques would make the Cartier name well-known worldwide. Eventually, the Cartier brothers developed the regionally acclaimed brand into global fame that is still around more than 150 years later through a range of fortunate international exposure, wise strategic choices, and sound marriage alliances.

From its establishment in 1847 until 1964, Cartier remained a family-owned business. Even though it is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Swiss Richemont Group, its main office is still in Paris.

Rolex vs. Cartier- Luxury Brand Name

Almost everyone is familiar with the Rolex name, and compared to the Cartier brand name, it unquestionably carries greater weight. Just consider how frequently you hear the names “Rolex” and “Cartier” compared to one another. 

Since the beginning, Rolex has been at the forefront of watch innovation. For example, Rolex was the first watch company to produce fully water-resistant watches and timepieces with an automated date change. This was a game-changer in the industry and forced any watch brand intereted in maintaining a certain cache to follow suit or fall by the wayside in terms of what is considered a top-tier brand. 

In addition, Rolex watches are among the most accurate on the market in terms of accuracy. On the other hand, Cartier was first created for pilots but has now become linked with the royal and the wealthy. In today’s world, both these brands are considered to be for the elite class. Whether you wear one or the other, what no one mistakes is that they are both signature brands of the elite and wealthy. 

Final Verdict On Luxury Brand Name

According to the above arguments and, we are sure, your personal experience, Rolex certainly enjoys a vastly more significant level of brand awareness than Cartier. Indeed, they are both well-known premium timepieces, but Rolex is the undisputed leader in the luxury watch industry.

Rolex vs. Cartier- Build Quality

Both Rolex and Cartier produce manual and quartz analog timepieces. Both of these manufacturers provide luxury timepieces built in Switzerland using premium components. Although they also offer gold and platinum casings, Rolex and Cartier’s watches tend to have stainless steel cases in most cases. 

But because Rolex uses a kind of stainless steel known as 904L stainless steel, its stainless steel casings stand out. This kind is more resistant to corrosion than others. Both brands, however, also feature sapphire crystal dial windows.

The water resistance is the component which comes next. Although the versions from each company will differ, they all have a typical water resistance of roughly 100 meters. Nevertheless, Rolex does offer versions with a maximum water resistance of 1220 meters.

Final Verdict On Build Quality

There may be some that debate this, but a fact is a fact. Rolex is superior to Cartier in terms of build quality. The stainless steel frame and rigid water resistance of its timepieces are unrivaled. On the other hand, Cartier isn’t too far behind in terms of build quality, but Rolex has the slight edge.

Rolex vs. Cartier – Style

Cartier watches typically adhere to the rules of fashion in terms of style. Cartier’s background as a jeweler before a watchmaker still has some merit despite having a few more products in other categories. The fact that Cartier watches come in a range of case designs is an advantage that many never overlook. 

Cases for Cartier watches come in a few varieties and can be round, square, or even tonneau-shaped. But Rolex tends to remain with a more rounded case style for most of its watches. Cartier’s variety of case forms is undoubtedly a bonus, but it doesn’t guarantee victory in this contest.

Most of the time, Cartier watches are more of a dress accessory. On the other hand, Rolex continues to uphold more excellent standards despite being a well-known premium brand. They can fit various themes and styles, including athletic, casual, and formal. Their stylistic adaptability partially offsets their lack of variation in case forms.

Final Verdict On Style

Both watch brands seem to have advantages and disadvantages in terms of style. Cartier will be the ideal choice if you’re seeking a genuine luxury dress watch with a selection of case shapes. However, despite the lack of choice in case forms, Rolex might be a better option if you’re searching for a premium watch that can go with various outfit styles. Therefore, we would like to call it a draw in style.

Rolex vs. Cartier – Pricing

Cartier watches are often more affordable than Rolex watches in terms of price. Cartier would be the preferable choice to consider first if you are starting in the luxury watch market, even though they are by no means inexpensive.

Many consumers that are just beginning their journey into the luxury watch game may choose one over the other and refuse to change their minds on which one should be the first to add to their coterie, but for those that are strictly going by price, then the Rolex brand offers more affordable options. 

On the other hand – and a fact that should not be forgotten or overlooked – Rolex has a higher resale value. Therefore, a Rolex can be a better choice if you don’t want to keep your fancy watch forever because you’ll receive more cash back if you decide to sell it.

Final Verdict on Pricing

Once more, there is a situation when the two watches are somewhat comparable. A Cartier will cost less upfront, but a Rolex could be a superior investment over time. The Rolex will cost more, but you can get your money back when you sell the watch in the future.

Best Rolex Watches

Rolex Datejust 16233

The Rolex 16223 was initially made public in the late 1980s. It was the first two-tone Datejust 36 watch to have a sapphire crystal. The Datejust 16233, the most remarkable men’s Rolex watch, was the final 36mm model to provide the collection’s traditional case quality and dimensions before Rolex redesigned the Datejust to include thicker lugs with an entirely perfect look. 

The Rolex Datejust 16233, less flashy than its six-digit predecessor, has recently become popular because it combines traditional style with contemporary worry-free comforts like scratch-resistant sapphire glass and the dependable Caliber 3135 movement.

Rolex Daytona 116500LN

Rolex launched this masterpiece back in 2016, and it took the whole luxury watches market by storm. The Daytona 116500LN, made of stainless steel and features a black Cerachrom bezel, has been entirely out of stock at shops worldwide for over six years and continues to be one of the most well-liked Rolex models, both on the secondary market and at retail. 

The Rolex Daytona 116500LN is available with a black or white dial, and the white variants are frequently the most popular with consumers today. Nevertheless, each has multi-year store queues, which may be found for more than their selling value on the used watch market. 

Rolex Submariner 16610

Perhaps one of Rolex’s most iconic and well-liked timepieces is the Submariner. The Submariner is sturdy and very powerful, with an Oyster casing for maximum water resistance up to 300 meters. It was first created with deep-sea explorers in mind. The most excellent Rolex watch, the stainless steel Rolex Submariner model 16610, has a stylish black dial with luminous hour markers visible in dim or adverse lighting. 

This specific Submariner model was produced until 2010, when Rolex stopped making it and unveiled an improved version of their renowned diver’s watch with noticeably bigger lugs, more comprehensive hands, more extensive hour markings, and a Cerachrom ceramic bezel.

Best Cartier Watches

Cartier Tank MC

The Cartier Tank is a must-have on any list of Cartier watches, whether for men or women. The Tank, as its name implies, was inspired by tanks, particularly the powerful ones that swept through Europe during World War One. Today, it is considered a classic example of fine craftsmanship and is an isntant status symbol and indicator of elegance for anyone wearing one. 

Even though many of its characteristics have altered since the legendary watch originally appeared on Parisian streets in 1919, it still retains the square case that caught people’s eye immediately. Several items from the Tank line look great on both male and female wrists, and the Tank MC, however, has a very macho feel.

Drive De Cartier Extra-Flat

This iconic watch has a distinctive cushion-shaped casing that stands out in the Driveshaft. We’re discussing 6.6mm thin. Even though it is so thin, it has enough weight never to feel delicate. It is an excellent choice for men that lead active lifestyles and desire a sleeker appearance that is versatile enough to be worn to a variety of functions. 

The casing is shaped unusually, and conventional Roman numerals on its front contrast it and give it a more vintage appearance. This lovely watch dresses up nicely for formal excursions on a blue alligator strap when a satin-brushed sunburst dial is added.

This watch looks great on female wrists, much like many others in the Cartier collection. With dimensions of 39 mm broad and 38 mm high, the slightly bulky casing yells masculinity but bolder women can definitely pull off the look!

Santos De Cartier Chronograph

A prominent Brazilian pilot, Alberto Santos-Dumont, collaborated with Cartier to design the company’s first wristwatch. The Santos de Cartier Chronograph, a replica of the initial watch in design and functionality, carries on its history. 

First, the well-known square casing is now a substantial 43.3mm x 51.4mm. It has a similarly substantial 12.5mm thickness for a masculine feel. Roman numerals that are distinctive to Cartier make the dial easy to identify. This one has a bolder, diagonal design that resembles a sports watch.  This watch seems sensible to incorporate Cartier’s recognizable quick Switch band technology. The adaptable watch can easily switch between a belt clip, an alligator skin, and a steel band.

Conclusion

Thus, according to the research, Rolex is the superior watch overall. But in the end, since each person is unique, it depends on personal preferences. It all comes down to your financial capacity and the goals you have for the watch when you purchase it. But in the end, both Rolex and Cartier are excellent options for luxury watches! If the prices for these brands are out of your price range, you could want to check into other high-end alternatives that have the same design as a luxury watch but are less expensive!

Cartier watches

In a time when every watch company is churning out endless numbers of stainless steel sports watches, there is one brand that transcends the trend and focuses on timeless and elegant designs often housed in luxurious materials. That brand is Cartier and not only have they remained a popular choice among the fashion forward clientele, but they have also grabbed the attention of the everyday watch enthusiasts.

Cartier watches have always been a respected brand within the watch community, but in the last several years they have exploded in popularity. This explosion in popularity draws parallels to that of other prestigious brands such as Rolex and Patek Philippe. It’s clear to see the similarities in quality and popularity, but how about investment potential? Do Cartier watches appreciate in value?

One of the hottest topics in watches these days is value retention. There are some people who feel that you should not concern yourself with the monetary value of your watch after you buy it as it’s a luxury item and there are others that will only consider a watch purchase if it appreciates exponentially after purchasing.

Most watch enthusiasts fall somewhere in the middle to varying degrees. Perhaps it’s a consequence of having a more limited budget compared to some other collectors but value is moderately important to my enjoyment of watches. Not the most important aspect by any means, but if I decide It’s time to move along from a watch, I can’t stomach the idea of losing a serious amount of money.

As much as I would like to believe that my viewpoint is unique, I’d be willing to bet that most watch enthusiasts, except maybe the uber-rich, feel the same way. What makes our collecting strategy and idea of value different, however, is the subjective parts of this mindset. What is a serious amount of money? What is a reasonable amount of money to lose on a watch? 

It’s this dread of losing value on a luxury watch like a Cartier, that keeps me up at night. The quality and design may be breathtaking but I still find myself grabbing my phone and searching the question we’ve all asked; What is my Cartier watch worth? If you’ve been here before, don’t worry, you’re just as crazy as the rest of us! If you found this article by asking this very question, you can relax, you’re among friends.

Let’s take a closer look at some iconic models from Cartier, including the Santos and the Tank, to see how well they retain their value. We will look at new and pre owned examples and will even investigate some examples that might cross the threshold into investment grade pieces.

Do Cartier Tank watches hold their value?

Cartier Tank

Designed all the way back in 1917 and modeled after the Renault FT-17 French Tank used during World War 1, the Cartier Tank has a history that other watch manufacturers would kill for. The rectangular shape, white dial, and Roman numerals are so synonymous with this design that other brands that use these features refer to it as “Tank” style.

There is something to be said for being the original. The Tank range with Cartier has splintered off into several subsets, including the Tank Americaine and the budget friendly Tank Must. For this deeper dive, let’s focus on the classic, the Tank Louise. The Tank Louis, Ref WGTA0011, is a true luxury watch. The warm rose gold luster compliments the crispiness of the white dial and contrasting black Roman numerals.

This watch oozes sophistication and class. When viewed next to the competition of a Rolex Datejust or Day Date, there is no comparison. One of these is very clearly a dress watch, and the other a jack-of-all trades. This Tank Louis measures in at 33.7mm x 25.5mm with a thickness of 6.6mm and is constructed of 18k rose gold.Keep in mind the sub 34mm case dimension is based on rectangular case shape and will wear much larger than those dimensions would suggest.

Powering this watch is the manual winding manufacture caliber 8971 MC. This movement is based on the Jaeger- LeCoultre Cal. 846 and comes in with a 38 hour power reserve. Not necessarily anything to write home about by todays standards, but if its a movement made by JLC, it’s a good movement. They’re the watchmakers watchmaker for crying out loud, enough said.

If you’re reading this article, I probably don’t need to work too hard to convince you of the merits of this watch. Quality aside, how well does the Cartier Tank Louis hold its value? This watch referenced here sells for roughly $12,800 at the time of writing. The ever volatile second hand market estimates the value of this watch at roughly $9000-$10000 dollars. I may not be great at math, but it looks like you’re losing roughly 20-30% of the value of your watch.

I know what you’re thinking, how could a Cartier Tank possibly be a good value watch? Im just going to buy a Ro…STOP right there! Let me explain! This watch inherently has a few things working against it when it comes to value retention. First, its’ a dress watch. Whether you agree with the sports watch craze right now or not, the fact is resale value for any non sports watch is going to be impacted by the decreased demand.

The other factor impacting the resale value of this Tank Louis is the fact that it is 18K rose gold. It is a luxurious material and therefor marked up appropriately when pricing out a new timepiece. The secondary market often caters to those of us who tend to hold a tighter grip on their discretionary income.

Not always, but a majority of the time, us cheapskates (what a hilarious term to use when discussing luxury watches) are drawn to the lowest point of entry into a watch, which is often a stainless steel model.

Are Pre Owned Cartier Tank Watches a Good Value?

With this 20-30% price depreciation in mind, lets search for that ever present silver lining. What if you are not the one to pop the champagne and give that Cartier Tank Louis its first incredibly painful scratch? If you’re able to find a reputable pre owned dealer, such as Exquisite Timepieces, you can let someone else take that initial depreciation.

You will still end up with a timeless 18k rose gold case and white dial Cartier Tank, powered by a JLC movement that is sure to be the classiest watch at any formal event, or Zoom meeting. The extra bonus you receive when purchasing this model pre owned, is the peace of mind that your money is safe. Is this watch going to explode in value and make you pass out on Antiques Roadshow?

Probably not, but you’re going to own one of the most iconic designs in watchmaking with real historical significance and if you choose to move it along to its next owner, your money will be relatively safe.

Does the Cartier Santos Hold its Value?

Cartier Santos

So what if you love the Cartier design language, but find yourself lusting after something a little sportier? Lucky for us, Cartier has you covered with another early 1900’s design in the form of the Cartier Santos. This watch was originally designed by Louis Cartier for his friend and Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont as he attempted to be the first person to pilot an aircraft.

Although the design holds onto many of the traits we love about Cartier, this watch does feature some changes that will help satisfy the wants and needs of those in search of something a little more robust. The Cartier Santos, Ref. WSSA0018, is a modern take on the original 1906 design. Along with the history, it carries the timeless design identity of what makes a Cartier a Cartier watch.

This particular model is the large variant and carries a dimension of 39.88mm with a case thickness of 9.8mm all crafted out of 316L stainless steel.. This watch is powered by the in house automatic caliber 1847 MC, which offers 42 hours of power reserve. The design of this watch is more brutalist than the Tank, featuring a rounded square case shape as opposed to the more tradition rectangle of the more formal Tank, but it still wears its Cartier aesthetic proudly.

Where things get more interesting is when it comes to everyday wearability. This watch trades out the traditional leather strap for a stainless steel bracelet with a few party tricks. This bracelet features a unique QuickSwitch feature that allows for tool free strap swaps as well as SmartLink allowing you to resize your bracelet painlessly.

Add to these features the 100 Meters of water resistance and you now have a Cartier watch, that looks like a Cartier, but can hold its own against any everyday watch from the likes of Rolex or Omega. Now that we have a stainless steel sports watch from Cartier, is the Cartier Santos a good investment? Investment, may be a stretch at this point. The retail price of this watch is about $7800 and the pre owned value of this watch is between $7000 and $7600. 

All things considered, you can purchase this watch new and have your money be relatively safe, dropping in value roughly 10%. When a watch holds it value this strongly, I would say it is a “no brainer” to purchase at retail. This high residual value does have one unfavorable inverse reaction. The current models may not be as value packed pre owned as they otherwise would be if they depreciated more.

The good news for my fellow thrifty watch enthusiasts is that if you are willing to go back a model or 2, you will find a Santos at the bottom of its depreciation curve. The design of the Santos has been around for a while and models exist with varying levels of features that will dictate the purchase price. If you find an example that is in great cosmetic condition and offers the features you deem most important, you can still score yourself a tremendous value.

What Cartier Watches are Best for Investment?

Cartier watches styles

What if I want a watch that can exponentially grow in value? Does Cartier have any investment grade watches? Absolutely they do! There are 2 different ways that a watch can be a great investment opportunity. The first is to be an exceptionally rare timepiece with history and provenance and the other is to be an undervalued example poised for an increase in popularity. I will give you an example of both of these that I feel represent great options for investment watches by Cartier.

For those of us wearing a top hat and monocle, I present the Cartier Crash. Cartier has released this limited production model a few different times within its history. They are quirky, hard to read, and downright cool! They are, in fact, so rare that pinning down their exact appreciation is no small feat. The last time this watch was listed on their website it was selling for about $36,500.

Pricing for an item like this is generally only available upon request, but one would expect to pay well north of $100,000. If you were lucky enough to score one of these from an AD, chances are you’re not really looking to try and flip this watch. But if you were, you would do just fine on it! What if you are the type of person who likes to trade in the top hat for a baseball hat?

Is there something for the everyday watch enthusiast? Lucky for us, there certainly is. The Must De Cartier Tank. This model was the budget friendly offering from Cartier to help introduce people into the brand. Let’s be clear, it is not the luxury experience that you are getting from any of the watches we have described earlier, but it looks like one. With these models you are generally getting a quartz movement and a gold plated case. Not exactly haute horology, but they’re still pretty nice looking dress watches.

The real value in these Must De Cartier models is the price point. They can be purchased for under $1000 all day long on everyones favorite online marketplace. It is definitely a riskier purchase when you start looking into these dark corners of the vintage watch market. There are Frankenwatches, fakes, and poor condition models a plenty available for you to waste your hard earned money on.

But if you are patient and do your research, you can end up with a very classy dress watch, that is hard for watch manufacturers to achieve at multiples of this price. So, will a Cartier watch last a lifetime? If the last 100+ years are any indication, not only will a Cartier watch last well beyond the average lifespan mechanically when properly maintained, but the style will outlast almost any other timepiece.

There is a design language you get when you purchase a Cartier timepiece and it looks as classic today as it did in 1906 when Alberto Santos-Dumont adorned his watch on a 21 second flight. Are Cartier watches a good investment? This gets a little trickier to answer. Just because a watch will last for ever,  doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great investment. It is a great investment if what you are looking for is an iconic timepiece from one of the OG watchmakers, with a distinctive style and personality.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to flip this watch to immediately fund your next, Cartier may not be for you. Your money, is relatively safe if you chose to move one of their pieces along, but unless you score one of their ultra rare pieces or end up on the winning side of a risky vintage purchase you shouldn’t expect your money to grow exponentially.

“What is my Cartier watch worth?” In most cases about what you paid for it. In the world of luxury purchases that is a very elite level of value retention. Sure there may be other watch brands that exceed their value once purchased, but good luck trying to find one available to purchase. Cartier has a history that rivals any other watch brand and the quality and design to help you stand out of the pack.

Andy Warhol famously wore a Cartier watch and even commented that he wore a Cartier  “because it is the watch to wear!” No mention of value retention or investment potential. He just knew that it was a cool watch to wear, even if he didn’t take the time to wind it. That off the cuff statement sums up Cartier.

The greatest value of a Cartier watch is not in its investment potential, it’s in the way it makes you feel when you put it on the wrist. At the end of the day if it’s cool enough for Andy Warhol, I would guess that it is cool enough for the rest of us!

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