Louis Cartier (1875–1942) was a famous French watchmaker and businessman known worldwide for elegant and extravagant watch designs. He was passionate about mechanical pocket watches and had the goal of creating his own line of timepieces. Although Patek Phillipe created the first wristwatch in 1868, Louis Cartier is responsible for helping to popularize it over the traditional pocket watch.
The House of Cartier, a true dynasty of style, elegance and fine craftsmanship, was founded in 1847 by Louis-Franois Cartier, master jeweler to Europe''s crowned heads. By the early 20th century, his three grandsons, Louis, Jacques and Pierre, were successfully managing Cartier boutiques in Paris, London and New York.
In 1904, his Brazilian friend Alberto Santos-Dumont, an early pioneer of aviation, asked Louis Cartier to design a watch that could be used during his flights, since pocket watches were not suitable. Louis Cartier created for him the Santos wristwatch, which was also the first wristwatch made for men Santos first went on sale in 1911, the date of Cartier''s first production of wristwatches. In Rue de la Paix he designed timepieces with the help of Edmond Jaeger who agreed to supply Cartier''s watch line with movements.
Jeweled wristwatches followed soon after in 1906. In 1910, Louis created and patented the deployant folding clasp. 1917 saw the introduction of the famous Cartier Tank watch. Long regarded as the single most important and influential watch design of the 20th century, the distinctive timepiece was designed in tribute to the Allied Tank commanders who helped defend France during World War I.
In 1933, Cartier was commissioned by the Pasha of Marrakech to create a watch he could wear while swimming. As one of the earliest truly water-resistant designs, the watch featured an attractive round case of solid gold.
Today, the company''s watch designers draw on the astounding design archives left by Louis Cartier, the design genius responsible for many of the house''s signature innovations, patents and collections. Most of the contemporary Cartier collections are based upon Louis distinctive design classics such as the Santos, the Panther, the Bagnoire, the Pasha, the Tonneau, the Diabolo, and the Tank. Introduced in 1996, the Tank Francaise is widely regarded as a contemporary model of horology and design mastery. Available in three sizes and offered with a variety of movements from quartz to automatic, the Tank Franaise chronograph features a perpetual calendar and automatic time zone changing capability.