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We will be closed Monday, 7/1 through Friday, 7/5, reopening Monday, 7/8

Cartier Paris “Tortue” Diamond and Grosgrain Wristwatch


Representing a watchmaking milestone, this circa 1913 ladies’ “Tortue” wristwatch by Cartier Paris is composed of platinum 18K gold, and diamonds, with a silk strap. The “Tortue”tonneau-shaped  case, with millegrain accents, has an off-white dial with black Roman numeral indicators, “Breguet-style blued steel hands, and railroad track chapter ring, framed by a rose-cut diamond-set bezel, lugs and winding stem, and encloses a manual-wind movement signed R.A. and Cartier Paris all completed by a black silk strap and gold deployant clasp. This stylish, early Cartier wristwatch is a visionary jeweled sportswear timepiece designed under the direction of the legendary Louis Cartier., and represents a key innovative moment  for wearable, jeweled timekeeping.


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  • Product Details
  • Curator's Notes

Item #: W-20267
Artist: Cartier, Paris
Country: France
Circa: 1913
Dimensions:  Case: 18 x 18mm; Band: 6.00”  interior circumference
Materials: 103 rose and old European-cut diamonds (approximate total weight 0.70 carat); Platinum; 18K gold
Signed: CARTIER on the dial, case nos. 7723, 15094, 8526, French platinum and gold assay marks; Movement signed R.A. Cartier Paris
Documentation/Literature: This original model of the Tortue, dated 1913, appears in Cartier: Jewellers Extraordinary, by Hans Nadelhoeffer, p. 274, figure 141.

Always innovative, Cartier began offering ladies’ wristwatches in the late 1880s. Though wristwatches were slow to catch on among the elite clientele, the firm remained convinced that it was an important new technological advance, and a new form of jewel. By 1906, Louis Carter began to turn his mind seriously to the wristwatch as a stylish item of jeweled sports wear because, that year, his friend Alberto Santos-Dumont, the pioneer aviator, asked him for timepiece that would allow him to read the time without taking his hands off the controls of his flying machines. The results of tickling Louis’ genius with this problem were the Santos watch, introduced for public sale in 1911 and the Tortue, in 1913, with the Tank following in 1919. Cartier sourced many of its movements via an exclusive contract with Edmond Jaeger, a cutting-edge innovator of new watch and clock mechanisms. All three designs have become Cartier classics. Cartier’s deployant gold buckle clasp first appeared in 1910, an elegant solution making the act of putting on a wristwatch quick, effortless and satisfying.