Rolex vs. Cartier Watches (EVERYTHING You Should Know)
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rolex vs cartier brand comparison

Rolex vs. Cartier Watches (EVERYTHING You Should Know)

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.


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!

About Exquisite Timepieces

Established in 1998, Exquisite Timepieces is your one-stop shop for all things luxury watches! We are an authorized dealer for 60+ luxury watch brands including Omega, Hublot, Seiko, & Longines! We are proud to showcase one of the world’s largest pre-owned watch collections, including renowned brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe. Check out our brand new watch arrivals here and popular pre-owned listings here.

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