05/29/2024
 4 minutes

Do Cartier watches hold their value?

By Aaron Voyles
2-1_4x

Do Cartier watches hold their value?

The world of Cartier is an intensely fabulous place. From their incredible jewelry to their eclectic blend of accessories and beautiful watches, they cater to a wide range of tastes, interests, and budgets. Given their esteemed history in the jewelry world, their heritage in watchmaking is easy to overlook. However, as the inventor of the sports watch, pilot’s watch, and men’s watch all rolled into one (the Cartier Santos Dumont), their watchmaking credibility is undeniable; a fact that has amplified their prestige on the watchmaking stage in recent years to the point that several of their watches have begun to retain their values, or even appreciate. But like most brands, not all of their watches command the same level of “investability.” So, what watch should you consider if you want to maximize the amount of money you could earn in the future, should you choose to resell it? Let’s dive in and find out. 

 

What makes Cartier watches so valuable?

One of the first questions to ask ourselves when trying to determine if a watch will retain its value over time is why the brand itself is valuable. In this case, Cartier is valuable for a host of different reasons, the main reason being the strength of their design language. Famous for creating several iconic watch designs, Cartier has earned a reputation as a powerhouse of aesthetics among watch collectors, and this makes their timepieces inherently valuable. For example, several brands currently offer or have offered Tank-style watches, but the Cartier Tank is the bona fide original. As a result, the Cartier Tank is inherently more valuable than the imitators. 

In a similar vein, watches like the Tortue, Santos, Panthère, and Pasha are seen as uniquely Cartier designs. This bolsters their desirability simply because no other brands – or very few – offer watches with similar designs, making them easy to recognize and thus more valuable to collectors. 

Finally, one important thing to note is that the majority of Cartier’s modern watches, at least those in normal production, command market values that are less than their retail prices. So, with respect to retaining value, if you buy a brand-new watch directly from a dealer, you’ll be down 20–30% on your purchase immediately. Buying the same watch second-hand means you pay the lower market value and increase the likelihood of making a profit if you sell it sometime down the line.

 

Cartier Santos de Cartier

The Cartier darling in the modern world of watch collecting is the Santos de Cartier, an integrated bracelet model with a bezel boasting visible screws that trace their origins back to the Santos Dumont from 1904. With its stunning guilloché dial, sporty aesthetic, and refined elegance that has come to epitomize Cartier’s brand DNA, the Santos de Cartier has broken free from Cartier’s typical audience and made it into the wider watch world, introducing newcomers to the brand en masse.  

Cartier Santos De Cartier – passt immer und zu allem
Cartier Santos De Cartier

Given its universal appeal, it’s no surprise that the Santos de Cartier has held its value perfectly over the last three years, despite the market’s decline. It has even gained 4.5% in market value over the last 12 months, showing both the resilience of Cartier and the popularity of the watch itself.

 

Cartier Panthère de Cartier

Originally launched in 1983 and revived in 2017 following its discontinuation in 2004, the Panthère de Cartier collection showcases the importance of being aware of a brand’s back catalog due to the potential revival of old fan favorites – which the Panthère collection certainly was. With aesthetics closely resembling those of the Santos de Cartier, it should come as no surprise that the Panthère was a hit when it was relaunched. Thanks to its popularity among celebrities and heritage followers, the Panthère has grown into one of Cartier’s most sought-after models, particularly among women. 

Cartier Vintage Panthère from 1980
Cartier Vintage Panthère from 1980

With its supple bracelet, soft lines, and elegant poise, the Panthère, in all its sizes and variants, has proven itself an advantageous choice for anyone who has recently bought one. As women’s watches have trended upward in size, the 27 and 29-mm variants have both enjoyed impressive price action, with the 27-mm ref. 183949 seeing a gain of 37.5% in the last three years, and 22% in the last 12 months – a trend that is likely to continue as female collectors move toward the Panthère just like men are flocking to the Submariner, Seamaster, Santos de Cartier, etc. 

 

Cartier CPCP Collection

The final Cartier with good value retention that I want to mention is not so much a watch as a collection of watches. Linked through a program called the Collection Privée Cartier Paris that debuted in 1998 and ran until 2008, watches from the CPCP, as the collection is known, feature some of the finest Cartier craftsmanship of their time. Launched to revitalize the brand’s artisanal watchmaking efforts, CPCP watches were made in limited numbers, using unique designs from Cartier’s archives and boasting impeccable attention to detail. This makes them some of the most collectible and valuable Cartier watches you can get your hands on. 

The Cartier Tank Basculante tripled in price in less than a year.
The Cartier Tank Basculante tripled in price in less than a year.

 

Why do these models have better value retention than others?

The million-dollar question for any collector or potential collector is why a certain model holds its value. For the models mentioned above, it’s their high recognition value (the Panthère), links to Cartier’s heritage in high-end watchmaking (the CPCP), and their ability to speak to the broader market’s desires (the Santos de Cartier). 

Each of these models does all of the above in different measures, but each has proven itself capable of better value retention than some other Cartier models. While the others may still be great watches, they are less desirable and thus aren’t as good of a purchase from a value preservation point of view. However, no one has a crystal ball, and the watch market’s wants or needs might quickly shift focus to a different Cartier model in the not-too-distant future – you never know! The best thing you can do is do your research in advance, buy the watch you want at a price you deem reasonable, and hope that your bet pays off. If not, at the very least, you’ll have worn a beautiful Cartier on your wrist, and that’s certainly not a bad outcome no matter what. 


About the Author

Aaron Voyles

I love everything about watchmaking, from the artistry of their design to the engineering hidden within their movements and the history that breathes life into their stories.

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