How to buy a Cartier wrist watch. I am often asked this question, and I will attempt to write a basic guide to cover the common or popular Cartier watch. Here are 6 simple rules to follow:
First and formost is to establish a budget and try to stick to it, as long as it is within the realm of what the particular model you have chosen to purchase will trade.
Establish the model you want, and the Dial type that suits you. Also mechanical mechanism or quartz.
Genuine Cartier Watches are nearly always expensive, rarely are they cheap and easy. The old saying that “if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is” certainly applies to Cartier Watches.
Condition and originality should be considered above price. All Cartiers are expensive to repair, and genuine parts can only be obtained from Cartier.
The best guarantees come from experienced sellers with lots of good feedbacks. Deal with someone that has a reputation to uphold, preferably someone that sells Cartiers regularly.
Box and papers are a plus, but only if they match the watch in question (serial numbers on the warranty card and watch need to match). There are lots of loose boxes floating around for the $50-$100 range. A genuine Cartier Box will NOT guarantee that the Watch is genuine.
Follow these simple rules and you are fairly assured of success, also having a knowledgeable Jeweler/Watch specialist to show your purchase to will certainly help. This simple “word of mouth” appraisal is usually around $25. I would be happy to do it for free.
Cartier has always purveyed a very fine and high grade timepiece. Cartier never actually made watches and clocks. Louis Cartier became fascinated with watches in the 1920’s, particularly wrist watches. He went to the reknowned house of LeCoultre to have some watch styles produced with the name Cartier. LeCoultre relegated a portion of their factory for the exclusive design and manufacture of Cartier Watches, and named it European Watch and Clock. E.W.C. went on to produce some of the most unique, desirable, and creative timepieces of all time. Watches and Clocks made by E.W.C. and retailed by Cartier are highly sought after by collectors today, and consequently expensive. The watches can bring 5 figures, and the line of Mystery Clocks can fetch 6 figures.
Cartier has had to deal with fakes and copies of their Watch Line for decades, and their yearly destruction of confiscated fakes via a steam roller in front of their Fifth Ave store is well documented.
Cartier has incorporated several key production features that make copying difficult. Their watches are nearly all produced from expensive metals i.e. Karat Gold, Platinum, Silver, and high quality Stainless Steel. Often imbedded with top quality precious and semi-precious stones. The construction of the cases that house the Cartier mechanism is always top quality and difficult to re-produce. The Cases, Dials, Movements, Bands, Deployants, etc. are all well marked with the Cartier signature and government hallmarks. They are unmistakable, and once viewed, it becomes easier to spot fake or copy markings. Experience is the key.
Cartier started using a “secret signature” on their Dials sometime in the 1960’s. The leg of the Roman numeral Ten is the word “cartier”, they also did the same with the number Seven. This simple devise seems to be beyond the capabilities of the usual producer of fakes, but by no means, the definitive factor.
Here is a listing for a popular Cartier Tank Wrist Watch with an excellent example of Cartier style Case Markings and the secret signiture at 10:00    eBay  #141176095874
In summation there are several factors or details to look for when authenticizing  a Cartier Watch, and unfortunately they are usually beyond the ability of the inexperienced buyer, so you need someone you can trust, or start handling Cartier watches. eBay is an excellent place to research and buy Watches, including Cartier, so, get searching and Good Luck!

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