One of the most famous watchmakers of all time, the House of Cartier continues their legacy of making coveted timepieces for men and women. From the world’s first pilot watch to a timepiece inspired by armored fighting vehicles, here we take a look at some of our favorite Cartier watches for men. Cartier is particularly known for creating “shaped” watches, which are those with non-round cases. The brand has a knack for pairing elegant simplicity with luxurious finishes. Many of Cartier’s watch collections are decades old–some even over a century old–which speaks to the timeless design language of the brand.
Once you have decided which one suits you best, do not forget to check out Gray & Son’s curated collection of used luxury watches, including a wide range of pre-owned Cartier watches for men.
Favorite Men’s Cartier Watch #1: The Santos
At the turn of the 20th century, legendary aviation pioneer, Alberto Santos-Dumont had a small request for his friend, Louis Cartier. The pilot needed a timepiece that would no get in the way while he was flying his aircraft. After all, a pocket watch is cumbersome to use if you need both hands to control navigational instruments. So, in 1904, Louis Cartier obliged and presented Alberto Santos-Dumont with a watch to be attached to the wrist via a leather band and buckle.
Remember, this was at a time where pocket watches were the norm for men and “wristlets” were exclusive to ladies. Yet, the practicality of wearing a timekeeping instrument on the wrist could not be denied, and the world’s first pilot wristwatch was born. In fact, the Santos is also often credited as the world’s first purposely-built wristwatch rather than a modified pocketwatch to be worn on the wrist. Following the custom wristwatch for Alberto Santos-Dumont, Cartier sent the timepiece model into production and made it available to the public a few years later.
And over a hundred years later, the Cartier de Santos remains as one of the most popular Cartier watches for men.
There are countless versions of the Cartier Santos watch, but there are some fundamental design traits shared by all. Cartier Santos watches have square cases, topped with square bezels studded with eight exposed screws. Some Santos watches also come fitted with metal bracelets with matching exposed screws. The face of Santos watches are typical Cartier, displaying the familiar Roman numeral numerals and sword-shaped hands, In terms of choice, the Cartier Santos is a versatile collection with an abundance of models. Along with a variety of sizes and watch functions, there is also a choice of metals (steel, gold, or two-tone gold and steel) and strap options (metal vs. leather).
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the watch in 2004, Cartier unveiled the Santos 100 collection. A modern interpretation of the classic Cartier watch, the Santos 100 is particularly masculine in design with beefier proportions and bolder dial executions. An especially popular version for men is the Santos 100 Chronograph in steel with a black leather strap.
Favorite Men’s Cartier Watch #2: The Tank
Also designed by Louis Cartier in the 20th Century, the Tank is yet another iconic watch from Le Maison. This time, inspiration came from the newly invented military armored vehicles used on the battlefields during the First World War. Design in 1916, a prototype of the watch was first presented to General Pershing in 1917. The Cartier Tank then made its public debut in 1919. Early versions of the watch included a flat rectangular case, square bezel, and most importantly, two side pieces (often referred to as “brancards,” the French word for “stretcher”) that serve to seamlessly connect the strap to the case.
The Tank quickly became Cartier’s flagship timepiece and the brand experimented with a bevy of different iterations. The first model from 1919 became known as the Tank Normale. Cartier unveiled the Tank Cintrée in 1921 with a long and curved case. The following decades saw the introduction of other creative versions such as the Tank Chinoise, the Tank à Guichet, the Tank Obus, the Tank Basculante, the Tank Asymétrique, Louis Cartier Tank and so many others.
From Clark Gable and Gary Cooper to Truman Capote and Andy Warhol to Rami Malek and Jeff Goldblum, the Cartier Tank has always been a favorite watch of the celebrity set.
Cartier essentially never stopped releasing new versions of the Tank watch. In 1989, we saw the arrival of the elongated Tank Americaine. In 1996 the modern and square Tank Francaise made its debut and in 2012, the bold Tank Anglaise with its winding crown integrated into the case arrived onto the scene. In 2004, Cartier presented the Tank Solo, which as its name suggests, is a straightforward take on the watch model. For those who are prefer in-house made movements, there is also the MC Tank collection with watches that run on Cartier Manufacture movements.
In 2017, the Tank celebrated its 100th birthday and a century later, it is still Cartier’s most popular timepiece collection. There are a plethora of different models available in a range of styles, metals, complications, and sizes.
Favorite Men’s Cartier Watch #3: The Roadster
The Roadster made its debut in 2001 as a collection of sporty elegant Cartier watches for men, which takes its design cues from muscle cars of the 1950s and 1960s. For example, we see that inspiration with the large lens magnifying the date, recalling a curved windshield. If you look closely at the winding crown, its design mimics rally car wheels, complete with a protruding center. The subsidiary dials of the Roadster Chronograph models look remarkably like car speedometers and Cartier offered a particularly sporty automotive-inspired dial design that mix both minute and hour markers.
The most distinguishing feature of the Cartier Roadster, however, is its tonneau-shaped case, which is available in steel, gold, and two-tone steel and gold. Not quite round nor rectangular, the barrel-like silhouette of the tonneau case is a bold one to wear–yet in true Cartier fashion, still elegant. A notable feature of the Roadster Cartier watch for men is its quick release bracelet system that permits wearers to easily switch out the bracelet and straps for a whole new way to wear the watch.
Along with time and date models, Cartier also made chronograph versions of the Roadster. Unfortunately, Cartier stopped the production of the Roadster around 2010. Thankfully, there are still plenty of fantastic pre-owned Cartier Roadster models available in the secondary market.
Favorite Men’s Cartier Watch #4: The Calibre de Cartier
A relatively new collection, Cartier introduced the Calibre de Cartier lineup in 2010. Not only were the new watches well received for their designs, but also for the in-house mechanical movements powering them. Cartier has taken very deliberate steps to show off their watchmaking capabilities in recent years by focusing their attention on producing their own calibers.
The Calibre de Cartier collection features round cases, which is not that common for this particular watchmaker that favors shaped watches. Additionally, the sizes of these cases are 42mm–considerably large in the world of restrained Cartier timepieces.
In addition to the Calibre de Cartier watches with time and date functionality, there is also the Calibre de Cartier Diver and the Calibre de Cartier Chronograph. The Calibre de Cartier Diver models are modern dive watches through and through, featuring a 300-meter water resistant rating, a unidirectional timing bezel, and plenty of lume on the dial.
A robust collection, there are steel, gold, and two-tone versions of the Calibre de Cartier, in addition to bracelet, band, and strap choices. Although these particular Cartier watches for men have been around for less than a decade, they are already considered a contemporary Cartier classic.
Favorite Men’s Cartier Watch #5: The Ballon Bleu
Another round watch from Cartier, the Ballon Bleu is the brand’s modern dress watch. “Ballon Bleu” translates to blue balloon in French, referring to the blue cabochon-topped winding crown integrated within the case. Just over a decade old, the Cartier Ballon Bleu collection merges contemporary touches, such as a convex shaped case, with design traits traditional to Cartier, such as a guilloché dial, sword-shaped hands, and Roman numerals.
From casual stainless steel to lavish precious metal, Cartier has rounded out the Ballon Bleu collection with plenty of material options. Along with the choice of steel, two-tone, or gold cases, there are also leather bands or metal bracelets available. Plus, there’s a solid assortment of sizes too to ensure the perfect fit for almost any wrist.
What’s more, there are quartz, mechanical, time only, time and date, and even moonphase Ballon Bleu models to choose from. A truly varied collection of Cartier watches for men, the Ballon Bleu is the right mix of classic and contemporary.
Pre-Owned Cartier Watches for Men
As we have illustrated, there are so many Cartier watches for men to choose from. With a variety of shapes, functions, and materials, there’s the perfect men’s Cartier watch out there just about anyone.
If you are in the market for an elegant timepiece, take advantage of Gray & Sons’ solid inventory of pre-owned men’s Cartier watches at fantastic prices. Not only do we ship to all fifty states and select overseas countries, but we also offer a one-year international guarantee with each used Cartier timepiece we sell.