Why Are Cartier Watches So Expensive?

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Iconic and timeless, Cartier watches stand the test of time. These watches are known worldwide for having extravagant gems with the most skillful craftsmanship and the highest quality materials.

From Cartier Tank to the Panthère de Cartier watch collection, their price range goes from US$3,200 to $164,000. In addition, these timepieces fare well in value over the years. 

However, Cartier watches are so expensive. So much so that many people see these timepieces as highly coveted luxury items more than functional tools on the wrist. But what exactly makes Cartier watches so expensive?

Luckily, our watch expert team at EvesWatch is intimately familiar with the brand to give you the necessary answers. But before we share the reasons, let’s first know how much a Cartier wristwatch costs on average.

How Much Does A Cartier Wristwatch Cost?

Typically, Cartier watches cost between $2,506 and $42,088. This price range is according to watch market insights provider WatchCharts.com

They based this average on Cartier Tank’s price, the first most popular brand out of four French brands in their database in the past 12 months.

However, if you go for the elegant oval dial of the Baignoire collection, the watch price ranges between $9,850 – $170,000. It may come as a shocker, but that exactly adds to why Cartier is a luxury watch brand. And they didn’t gain that title quickly.

Now that you know the average price of a Cartier wristwatch, let’s see why these watches are so expensive, shall we?

Top 7 Reasons Cartier Watches Are So Expensive (Detailed Answers)

1. History and Prestige

Cartier watches are expensive because they’re rich in history, and its brand gained international prestige over the years.

If you look at the Parisian brand’s history, you’ll see that Louis-Francois Cartier founded it in Paris in 1847. Cartier started as a watchmaker but soon made tremendous strides in the watch industry.

Even during World War I in 1917, when things like pocket watches seemed impractical, Cartier created a timepiece that was both Spartan and chick. During that time, he also designed the Tank, a watch model named after the Renault Tank. 

This timepiece was made possible after Brazilian aviator Alfred Santos-Dumont expressed to his friend Louis Cartier that wearing pocket watches was uncomfortable and impractical during his flights.

Recently, the brand has also captured more global market share (6.7%), and it was able to dethrone Omega. They also credited its ascension in the watch market. From 2020 to 2021, they connected with younger watch buyers.

To honor its history, Cartier releases limited editions of luxury watches, such as the Tank in the Privée collection. And watch collectors pounce on these as they’re very Haute Horlogerie, meaning they’re the finest of high watchmaking.

2. Desirable Features

Another reason why Cartier watches are expensive is that they arguably have desirable features anyone would want in a luxury watch. The Cartier Santos, for instance, is one of the most famous models from the Cartier brand.

That watch model has a beautifully screwed-down square bezel, shapely lugs, and a stylish rectangle case, and you can find both mechanical and quartz models. 

Remember, though, that Cartier mechanical watches are less accurate than quartz. By definition, mechanical timepieces are prone to inaccuracy as their movement begins off quickly or slowly.

3. Precious Metals and Stones/Diamonds

Cartier watches contain high-quality precious metals, like 18k gold and platinum. These precious metals increase in value over time and drive up the prices of Cartier watches.

Some watches even have the finest quality diamonds graded per the GIA standards, either “very good” or “excellent.” These standards mean that the diamonds are of unique sparkle and optimal brilliance. 

Therefore, its brand name itself is a guarantee of exceptional beauty. The Large Ballon Bleu Pave Diamond Watch, one of the most expensive Cartier watches in the world, costs around $164,000. 

What makes it this expensive is that aside from being a limited edition, it is made of 18-carat white gold with two rows of diamonds in the bezel. Even its bracelet is paved with round diamonds.

Cartier manufacturers now offer different shapes, colors, and sizes – with or without diamonds. In addition, you may pick Cartier in 18kt Rose Gold, 18kt White Gold, or 18kt Yellow Gold.

However, even with few gold mechanisms in a watch, potential buyers continue to view Cartier watches as luxury items, and this reputation remains strong after many years.

4. Top-Tier Stainless Steel

Aside from the precious metals and stones, Cartier also features high-quality stainless steel. It is resistant to abrasions and impacts and can last for decades. These aspects make it the perfect material for wristwatches and various jewelry pieces.

Moreover, the Tank Must Watch with a high autonomy quartz movement features a steel case and fewer additional adornments. It has no gold or diamonds but looks stunning and retails for about $2,600.

Related: Cartier Watch Service Cost

5. Development and Manufacturing Process

Despite being small, watches are not invented daily.

Therefore, the amount of time it takes to develop, manufacture, and complete the level of a watch is another factor why Cartier watches are so expensive. Cartier’s research and development team develops new materials, models, and designs.

For instance, creating and making highly efficient movements takes time and effort. Some movements are made up of hundreds of parts to keep the Cartier watch beating and accurate. Not to mention, these movements are so tiny and use in-house movement.

6. Great Craftsmanship

The high-level craftsmanship is also why Cartier gained the high-level status for their watches and made these products expensive. 

For one, Cartier continues to make high-end, handmade watches. Every timepiece is constructed through particular methods requiring dedicated effort and several hours of work. Other watch brands rarely observe this kind of craftsmanship.

Second, these timepieces are made in Switzerland. Expert-level watchmakers in Switzerland receive high wages, often between $62,000 and $100,000 per year. All these increase Cartier’s price tag.

7. Star Power Behind the Brand

Last but not least, Cartier is famous and expensive because of its sales to celebrities. For instance, Angelina Jolie, Remi Malek, and Kylie Jenner have purchased Cartier watches or become ambassadors for the brand.

As a result, it created a strong association between Cartier to the most famous and the wealthiest individuals. Even in the past, the Cartier Tank has been associated with style icons, including designer Yves Saint Laurent, Duke Ellington, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

The beautiful relationship between Cartier and the Royals

Some people may also need to learn this, but the Parisian brand has a long association with the Royals in England and other countries. 

When King George II ascended the throne, he rewarded the brand with a Royal Warrant that made Cartier the official seller of jewels for the crown. 

Cartier jewels likewise appeared in the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. These reasons also made Cartier bracelets and watches so expensive.


Related: How Much Do The Most Popular Watches Sell For?

Most Expensive Cartier Watches

If you’re wondering which Cartier watches are the most expensive, it includes the following:

  • Cartier Extra Large Tortue High Complication Platinum Watch
  • Cartier Extra Large Ballon Bleu Tourbillon Diamond Watch
  • Cartier Rotonde Tourbillon Chronograph Watch
  • Cartier Extra Large 47mm Ballon Bleu Chronograph Diamond Watch
  • Cartier Phoenix Décor Secret Watch
  • Cartier Extra Large Tortue Chronograph Pink Gold Watch
  • Cartier Pasha 42mm Diamond White Gold Watch
  • Cartier Large Tortue White Gold Jewelry Ladies Watch
  • Cartier Large Ballon Bleu Pave Diamond Watch

FAQs About Cartier Watches

Do Cartier watches hold their value?

Yes, Cartier watches hold their value. Some vintage Cartier watches may even increase in value than the newer models.

Some of the Cartier-style timepieces with high resale potential include the Calibre de Cartier, Pasha de Cartier, Ballon de Cartier, Santos de Cartier, and Panthere de Cartier.

Where are Cartier watches made?

Cartier watches are made in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. This city is famous for watchmaking.  

Other than Cartier, Girard-Perregaux, Ulysse Nardin, TAG Heuer, and Patek Philippe all manufacture their caliber in the same town.

Are Cartier watches luxury?

Yes, Cartier timepieces are luxury watches. They are famous for their stylish designs, craftsmanship, and high-quality materials. Many Cartier watches are even worth more when they are pre-owned.

How long will a Cartier watch last?

Cartier watches can last a lifetime with proper care. They are designed to be passed down to future generations. Most Cartier watches are also designed in simple yet elegant versions so people can wear them on different occasions, regardless of how casual the outfit is.

However, it’s best to have your Cartier serviced approximately every five years. Doing so can significantly extend the timepiece’s lifespan and ensure they keep operating each year.

Is Cartier worth more than Rolex?

No, Cartier isn’t worth more than Rolex. An entry-level Rolex may even be worth twice more as an entry-level Cartier timepiece, making Cartier more attainable.

The Bottom Line

Cartier is a watch brand with a fascinating history.

All the timepieces include high-quality materials and timeless styles that make them highly collectible.

Since they are made in Switzerland, it takes a high level of craftsmanship to develop a Cartier, and it’s the watch choice of the chicest celebrities.

Still, the price perception depends on the person and how they see the timepiece’s value. If you see the value in things, you can say the Cartier watch is worth it. Otherwise, you may consider it insanely expensive.

If you’re buying a watch for yourself or someone (even with an established watch collection), a Cartier watch is certainly worth considering.

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