Over the past few years, Cartier has been enjoying remarkable growth. The French Maison is active across different categories and excels as a jeweller/watchmaker or watchmaker/jeweller. In line with MONOCHROME’s exclusive coverage of watches and according to a recent Morgan Stanley report, Cartier has become the second-largest watchmaker after Rolex. Watches & Wonders provided the perfect venue to sit down with Arnaud Carrez, the brand’s Chief Marketing Officer, with whom we had a comprehensive look at the new 2022 collection – and there are a lot of watches to discover.
Xavier Markl, MONOCHROME Watches – What makes Cartier watches different?
Arnaud Carrez, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer of Cartier – Cartier was born as a jeweller, which makes us very special in the world of watchmaking. Linked to our heritage, this singularity makes us different from the others. At Cartier, everything starts with the design, and everything serves the design. This is very clear. There is no compromise on technique, but it is design first.
The second thing is that we are the watchmaker of shapes. We have created an amazing repertoire with countless shapes and styles. We keep on creating new shapes, and that makes us unique. We are known for our creativity; we are the only brand with so many iconic collections that are still highly relevant and up-to-date. We keep on reinventing and nurturing them. We have Tank, Santos, Panthère, Pasha, Ballon Bleu… These collections are universal and transgenerational, and they cater to different audiences. Then we have connoisseurs’ watches and jewellery watches that are deeply embedded in our DNA.
Moving to Watches & Wonders, what are the key messages for Cartier this year?
This year, our message is Matter of Time. This perfectly fits the vision that we were discussing before. This inspirational theme expresses our singularity in the world of watchmaking. We are not obsessed with measuring time; Cartier is about treasuring time. We have a special relationship with time. Take the icons I referred to; no matter how often they are reinvented, they are always relevant.
We consider that the Cartier style is a living language, and we keep on reinventing it. The concept of permanent dynamics is fundamental. There is also a mystery about Cartier watches. You have seen the Rotonde de Cartier Masse Mystérieuse and its mysterious movement. Many of our watches are objects of desire, displaying time in an illusory or emotional dimension.
Also, the time needed to push boundaries is not an issue for us. The New Cartier Libre inspired by Gloria Swanson’s bracelet is a creative statement that required a lot of time. But we take the time needed. We are not obsessed with the number of novelties that we are releasing; we cultivate our creativity, our heritage and our icons.
Which collection would you highlight for this fair?
Tank. Tank is, in essence, the iconic collection. It is one of the first Cartier collections, with origins dating back to 1917. It is universal; it caters to all ages and all genders. It expresses Cartier’s diversity: there is the Tank Américaine, the Tank Française, the Tank Louis Cartier, The Tank Must, and this year, the Tank Chinoise.
Cartier watches have experienced strong growth over the past years. What have been the drivers of growth?
The Maison has managed to increase its desirability and image, first and foremost, with products. But we have also modernized our communication. We have launched audacious, modern campaigns and initiatives. We have made great progress in revitalizing our image.
Cartier is known for its diverse territories of expression. We have multiple product categories, not just jewellery and watches but also accessories and fragrances that we are currently revamping with a lot of success. There are a lot of other dimensions we are leveraging in terms of communication. There is Art and Culture through the Fondation Cartier and our Cartier collection exhibitions, and there is philanthropy through our dedicated Cartier Philanthropy Foundation. We are also committed to women’s empowerment through the Cartier Women’s Initiative, and as you might have seen with the Women’s Pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020. And there is Cartier for Nature where we strengthen our commitments to protect the environment. These territories of expression are all part of a consistent Cartier ecosystem.
Then there is the retail transformation. We have started to revamp all our boutiques around the world. The feedback is excellent. We have great projects this year. In particular, we will reopen the iconic 13 Rue de la Paix boutique. The retail transformation contributes a lot to the evolution of the brand’s image.
Moving to the production side, as we discussed, Cartier is active in different watch categories. What have been the primary investments in that respect?
We have a very robust and agile production tool with the La Chaux-de-Fonds manufacture. Over the past years, we have made great progress in improving the quality of our products. Today, we are one of the watch brands with the lowest aftersales return rates. The manufacturing tool has demonstrated amazing agility and flexibility. We have managed to achieve these results thanks to our manufacturing. To give you an example, the launch orders for the Pasha were placed in July 2020, just at the beginning of the pandemic. In a very limited time frame, we managed to produce sufficient quantities and launch the collection in China and Korea earlier than anticipated.
Do you produce watches, cases, bracelets, etc., in the La Chaux-de-Fonds manufacture?
Today, the movement production is being consolidated with Richemont and the Valfleurier manufacture. We work very closely with the Richemont team for this.
You presented two incredibly innovative and creative watches with the Masse Mystérieuse and the ‘soft’ Coussin watch. What does innovation mean at Cartier?
Well, the Masse Mystérieuse is quintessentially Cartier. It required 8 years of development. It brings together two signature complications or specialities: the Pendule Mystérieuse and skeleton watches. Talking about innovation, Cartier is known for pushing boundaries and reinventing itself. So, we are a truly innovative brand. But we are not obsessed with innovation for the sake of innovation. Innovation should be at the service of design.
Our Coussin (cushion) that deforms under pressure is unmistakably the watch of a jeweller. It is state-of-the-art innovation. Touching its diamond-set flexible, tactile case is a unique sensation!
For more information, please visit www.cartier.com.