Friday, March 16, 2012

L'Odyssée de Cartier

Celebrating 165 years of....
It's all about THE little red box.

"There's a story,
about a watch named Santos,
that was cre-ated for a flying pi-o-neer.

It launched a company,
and made men wealthy,
this classic style will never dis-ap-pear."
 By yours truly with props given to the Brady Bunch with a little Dr. Seuss inspired punctuation

Santos de Cartier wristwatch

"J'adore Cartier."   The etiology of my fascination is a tad baffling.  Generally speaking, I care about as much for jewelers as I do about the coin toss at a high school basketball game.   But, for some strange reason, Cartier is different. 

Some people have the ability to name the genus and species of famous orchids -- not me.  Others are skilled at quoting the statistics of every baseball player in the Major Leagues.  (Me, not so much.)  But.... I can spot a Cartier watch at 100 yards!

Why?   Well, I guess that I love a good story. 

Though founded in Paris in 1847, the House of Cartier didn't become famous until the early 20th Century.  It was around that time that a Brazilian aviator, Alberto-Santos Dumont, complained to his friend, Louis-François Cartier, about the difficulties of using pocket watches while flying.  In 1904, the Santos de Cartier was created thus becoming the first wristwatch.  And, the rest, as they say, is history!

As for those classic Cartier rivets...they were simply functional, making the watches easier to repair. 

Today, those little screws (or rivets) are as iconic as those coveted little red boxes. 

Love bracelet by the House of Cartier

From its humble beginnings as a wristwatch maker, Cartier is probably better know for some of its more elaborate creations...the Taylor-Burton diamond necklace, for instance.  The 69.42-carat pear-shape diamond was cut by Harry Winston.  Cartier eventually won a bidding war for the diamond, attached a diamond necklace, and it was purchased by Richard Burton for Elizabeth Taylor.  In 1979, it was re-sold for $5 million. 

The amazing history of this 165 year old company can be seen in Bruno Aveillan's l'Odyssee de Cartier which premiered last month at the Met in NYC.  The description seems fitting... " a journey between dream and reality.  For the very first time, Cartier has decided to create a cinema epic focusing on its history, its values and inspiration, its artistic and universal scope."

Happy birthday, Cartier!   And, may the content of those little red boxes continue to charm and amaze us.


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