During the last few years, the market for second hands watches is booming. While Patek Philippe, Rolex, and Audemars Piguet first determined the pace in this business, Cartier is now joining them, becoming the rising star in the world of Pre Owned. The results at recent auctions were astonishing and something we have never seen before. Unknown to a lot of us is the fact that Cartier has always sold its own antique pieces in some of its Boutiques. These comprise jewelry and watchmaking creations, but also precious accessories, dating from the start of the 20th century and up to the 1970s.
That this remained an unknown fact to the general public is not so strange because it was always for a select clientele and only at the Flagship Stores. Today, La Maison expands this operation with the official launch of the ‘Cartier Vintage Collection‘, Made up of watches created between 1970 and 2010. And when you ask us, the pieces from Collection Privée, Cartier Paris, are probably the most important watches that will make up this collection. The watches available demonstrate the wide variety of shapes in Cartier’s watchmaking repertoire as well as the timelessness of its designs.
With pieces that are as iconic as they are rare, Cartier allows connoisseurs to acquire authentic creations from its watchmaking heritage without the risk of buying a not 100% original piece. An additional advantage is that all of the Maison’s skills and talents are utilized, from the selection of models to their restoration, so you get the most stunning vintage Cartier in a superb condition.
The Cartier experts (in historical pieces) search for vintage watches worldwide through their extensive network. Their authenticity is confirmed by archives that have been preserved by the Maison since its beginnings. Then they are given to the watchmaking experts who will check on their general condition and proceed with the restoration, where necessary. The refurbishment is carried out while respecting the piece’s history. Although this includes an extensive service of each element, it will not systematically erase inevitable signs of use. The case, crown, and buckle are brought back to life but not overly polished, while the hands and dial are restored to their original condition. Leather straps are replaced while metal bracelets are cleaned, checked, and re-polished when needed. The movement is restored to working order by replacing components if necessary, allowing for full functionality. All Cartier Vintage watches are supplied with a certificate of authenticity, an opt-in 8-year warranty, a user guide, and a new box. This also shows another advantage of buying a vintage watch directly from Cartier, as it is quite unique to get an 8-year guarantee on a vintage watch.
The Cartier Vintage collection is exhibited in the Paris -, London -, and Singapore Flagship store. Paris and London, both notable locations in Cartier’s history, are the birthplaces of iconic watches like the Tank, Tonneau, Tortue, and Cloche. Singapore emerged as the natural choice for the long-standing relationships that the Maison has established with an experienced public of connoisseurs and a great group of Cartier collectors. Since the trade-in of second-hand watches has expanded enormously, I’m not surprised that Cartier has finally stepped in.
But what does it mean for you, and how does it work when you’re not living in one of these three cities? It is important to realize that many of the sought-after watches, like a Cloche, Tank Asymetrique, or a Crash, are produced in very small numbers, which means that even for Cartier it is not easy to locate them. But if you still would like to go ahead with a certain vintage piece, contact your nearest Boutique in your country. Your local salesperson will get in touch with the experts from Cartier’s headquarters to find out what the possibilities are. It goes without saying that these vintage watches, bought from Cartier, have a premium, even compared to the price that a reputable dealer will ask. However, a vintage Cartier sold by La Maison themselves gives the buyer a guarantee that everything is 100% original and in superb condition. It will be very important for many collectors that the watch is covered for unexpected repairs for 8 years and that the watch receives an official Cartier box and the necessary papers.
This actually means that there is hardly any difference anymore, between buying a new – or a vintage Cartier watch, as long as it is done at the Boutique.