The house of Cartier traces its roots back to 1847 and is firmly a jeweler who dabbles in watches. We choose the word ‘dabble’ not to downplay anything, of course, as the Cartier Tank is credited as the first men’s wristwatch and the Cartier Santos Dumont as the first pilot’s wristwatch. In order to understand Cartier as a watch brand, we must recognize the viewpoint of the larger firm, to serve the desires of their client book—be it a bracelet, ring, crown, or wristwatch. Francesca Cartier Brickell’s comprehensive history, The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewelry Empire, is a must read for anyone seriously interested in understanding why Cartier is so classic, timeless, and unlike anything else in the watch world.
Vintage watch enthusiasts are continually frustrated with the uncertainty of originality. Back in the 1950s, brands like Rolex and Universal Geneve were making decisions to get watches sold rather than to maintain a perfect lineage of correctness and originality 70 years later. Dials and hands were combined according to availability rather than to perfectly match an advertisement or catalog image. Due to the operational structure of Cartier—three independent run locations in Paris, London, and New York—by the time watches were offered, this uncertainty of correctness is exponentially greater. Vintage Cartier is really hot right now with prices soaring; however, greater consultation and education than any other brand is necessary to jump into this market with a purchase.
Available for auction is a Cartier Panthére. While the image of a panther has been used by Cartier as a quasi-mascot since 1914, a wristwatch bearing the moniker Panthére was introduced much later, in 1983. Many describe the Panthére as very of the 1980s when it was designed, but we push back on that. While aspects of the opulence and excess of this time are certainly seen, the classic Cartier house style and chic design shines through more than anything of the period.
The Cartier Panthére’s first generation started in 1983 and consisted of two size options, the small with a 22mm case diameter without crown and the medium with a 27mm case (seen here). The decision to size the Panthére much lower than other wristwatches in the market mirrors that of Cartier’s tank and gives more credence to the idea that creating a classic Cartier wristwatch trumped catering to 1980s style. Variants in these early Panthéres beyond case size include all gold vs. two-tone, date vs. no date, and diamond bezel vs. bare bezel.
The seller’s Panthére dates from this first generation likely manufactured in the mid to late 1980s. Further contributing to uniqueness is the factory diamond-set bezel and crown as well as the date aperture. Looking at vintage Cartier Panthéres, very few were fitted with date complications. Provenance comes in the form of a Sotheby’s New York auction receipt from June of 1991 that is available upon request and included in the sale of this Cartier. At the time of the Sotheby’s sale, a previous owner’s inscription was present on the caseback which has since been polished off.
The case for this example is preserved in good condition showing a previous polish. Scratches are seen around the case as well as the bracelet. The diamond-set bezel and crown appear in great condition. Some scratching near the screws on the caseback is present, however, the crystal appears to be in excellent condition.
The Dial and Hands
This dial is in great to excellent condition with an even light cream tone and matte finish. Of note beyond condition is what we believe to be a relative rarity among other Panthére both of this early period and later; the ‘secret signature’ is hidden within the 7 o’clock numeral rather than the 10 o’clock X where most are seen.
The blued steel handset appears to be in excellent condition and original as they are of the correct lengths.
The Cartier signed quartz movement is in good running order, keeping accurate time, and the battery was changed just a few months ago.
|Case Material||Yellow Gold|
|Band Material||Yellow Gold|