Octagonal Cartier London wristwatch c.1976 – £96,000 at Watches of Knightsbridge.

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Cartier dress watches are the antithesis of the rugged ‘tool’ watches that have ridden the crest of a market wave for several years.

Typically made with Jaeger- LeCoultre movements, white enamel dials and 18ct gold cases rather than stainless steel, these are more the stuff of Jermyn Street suits and briefcases rather than racetracks and regattas. They are timeless classics, not the height of collecting fashion.

However, the market is not unchanging. Watches of Knightsbridge (21% buyer’s premium) says that interest levels for vintage and second-hand Cartier watches have been rising as buyers look for ‘value’ in the market.

A record bid of £96,000 was received on May 22 for a rare octagonal watch from 1976. This is from a range of timekeepers made for and retailed by Cartier London in the 1970s, with this gent’s size watch made in very small numbers.

Surviving in excellent all-original condition, it sold well above hopes of £18,000-26,000.


Cartier Pebble ‘Turtle’ wristwatch c.1975 – estimate £150,000-200,000 at Bonhams.

Another test of this market niche takes place on June 16 when Bonhams offers a yet scarcer Cartier Pebble Turtle watch with a guide of £150,000-200,000.

A variant of the Cartier London Pebble, this watch hallmarked for 1975 earned its name from the unusual ‘turtle feet’ lugs to the distinctive case, featuring a square with softened edges within a circle. Only one other is known to exist with these lugs and it is in the Cartier Collection.

These designs, made alongside Sixties classics such as the Maxi Oval and the Crash, were the last made with the input of a Cartier family member: Jean-Jacques Cartier ran the London branch of the luxury goods firm from 1945-74.