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Cartier’s design icons

For one of the world’s greatest jewellers, it’s always been form over frivolity.

As a jeweller and watchmaker, Cartier has done well at making its name a household one in luxury trinkets. But there’s one hat the maison wears that is often overlooked – that of a designer. Cartier’s greatest hits didn’t rely on precious stones or groundbreaking horology to earn their respective cult statuses. Instead, the brand had a bold command of shape, a commitment to quality and an aversion to shortcuts. With designs so bare, every line and detail had to be perfect.

This isn’t to take away from Cartier’s haute joaillerie and horlogerie masterpieces, but the fact that the following designs have flourished over the generations prove that they will continue to endure for generations more.

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Cartier Icons

(Left to right) Trinity ring, Panthere De Cartier, Santos De Cartier, Love bracelet, Juste un Clou, Ballon Bleu, The Tank.

Trinity

Another Louis Cartier creation, the original Trinity ring featured three intertwined bands of different-coloured gold to represent love, fidelity and friendship. Today, the luscious, harmonious form has been adopted by pendants, bracelets and earrings, and even set with precious stones.

Panthere De Cartier

Despite looking like a baby Santos, its small size and chic, flexible bracelet have their appeal. Though discontinued in 2004, Cartier thankfully realised there was still a market for women’s watches that could stand on the strength of their design and revived the collection in 2017.

Santos de Cartier

Who would have thought Louis Cartier’s favour to a friend, the aviator Alberto Santos- Dumont, would end up being one of the most popular watches in watchmaking history? Well, maybe Cartier himself did since the watch’s rounded square case and exposed screws were the result of devilish attention to detail and a rebellious streak in an era of round watches.

Love

Only the Love bracelet can arouse demand by virtue of an inconvenience. But even without the story of being “locked into love” by a dedicated screwdriver that (ideally) requires the aid of a partner, the bracelet’s exposed screws (a motif still trendy to this day) and uncomplicated oval shape still make it a triumph of simplicity.

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Juste un Clou

The Juste un Clou is proof that anything can look stylish with enough precision and audacity. It might literally be called “just a nail”, but there was nothing lazy about its conception. Designed by Aldo Cipullo in the 1970s, the bracelet is a marriage of clean lines and pure form, carefully shaped to comfortably hug the wrist.

Ballon Bleu

Released in 2007, the Ballon Bleu is Cartier’s youngest icon. But you wouldn’t know it, thanks to a trend-transcending design that owes its success to adherence to symmetry. The integrated crown, pebble-like curves and perfectly proportionate numerals are immediately distinctive on this rare round watch.

Tank

The Tank watch has seen so many variations in its 104-year history that it speaks to Cartier’s design prowess that each one is still unmistakably a Tank. Inspired by the Renault FT-17 tanks from World War I, founder Louis Cartier turned a combat machine into wrist candy by keeping things simple.

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