Written By: Vahid Moradi
Cartier is one of the most recognizable luxury watch brands today and it has earned this renown for a reason: Cartier watches are world-class, classic timepieces that exude French sophistication.
While Cartier still makes new watches for men and women that are designed in distinctly masculine and feminine styles, vintage Cartier watches are wonderfully unisex. In fact, it could be argued that vintage pieces became classics precisely because of their wide appeal and universal (rather than gendered) style.1
So when it comes to pre owned Cartier watches, there are several unisex styles to choose from when you walk into a Cartier authorized dealer like CJ Charles. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about the top four unisex Cartier watches so that you can find the perfect piece for your taste, regardless of gender.
1. Tank: The Ultimate Unisex Watch
One of the most popular Cartier watches is the Tank.
First created in 1917 during WWI, the Tank design was supposedly inspired by the also-French Renault FT-17 tank which emerged on battlefields across Europe that very same year.
Despite the name and inspiration, this style is not bulky, militaristic, or overly masculine. Instead, the piece embodies the sleek and refined machinery that inspired it.
The Tank’s distinct aesthetic consists of a rectangular face with thick vertical flanks (or brancards, as Cartier calls them) on either side, as if the dial were the cockpit and the flanks were the large treads of a tank. These longer flanks connect seamlessly with the lugs, which connect the straps to the watch: another defining characteristic.
Several Tank models have been developed over the years, all with their distinct aesthetics that fit within the classic style. Here are some of the most popular vintages:2
- Tank Normale – This is the first Tank model released to the public in 1919 and has angled brancards and a square face.
- Tank Louis Cartier – The second generation of the Tank style, this model extended and rounded the brancards around a longer, more rectangular face.
- Tank Américaine – This 1989 version of the Tank Cintrée (which means curved in French) has a long, rectangular, and curved case. Unlike the Cintrée model, the back of the case is flat.
- Tank Française – Released in 1995, the Tank Française includes a chain strap, again drawing inspiration from tank treads. Compared to the elegant Américaine model, the Française is more flashy.
How much is a Cartier watch? How do Cartier watches hold their value? Although the price of vintage Cartier watches can fluctuate tremendously based on a variety of factors including condition, authenticity, and demand, the Tank’s price point typically ranges between about $2,500 and $55,000, making it among the more affordable (and enduring) vintage Cartiers.
The Santos style also has a fascinating history. It actually predates the Tank as Cartier’s first watch model and the first-ever mass-produced wristwatch in the world.
Cartier began as a jewelry brand in the mid-1800s, but thanks to an early aviator named Alberto Santos-Dumont, the company began watchmaking around 1904.
What does an aviator have to do with one of the most well-recognized luxury watch models of all time? Friendship, and the natural instinct to help our loved ones find solutions.
Santos-Dumont was actually Louis Cartier’s close friend. The aviator spoke to Cartier about the difficulties of using pocket timepieces in-flight—and Cartier was inspired. So, Cartier created a wristwatch and named it after his high-flying friend. This piece’s design was also influenced by the popular pocket watches of the time and kept a flat and square aesthetic.
What started as a practical solution became a sensation. The Santos became the first watch of its kind to be produced on a widespread scale.
Like the Tank, the Santos style has been through several versions and revisions over the years, though all keep the same chic and traditional aesthetic that appeals to both men and women:
- Cartier Santos, 1904
- Cartier Santos de Cartier, 1970s
- Santos, 1980s and present day
Similar to the Cartier Tank watch in price, Santos styles begin at a bit heftier of a price point from about $6,500 to $60,000.
3. Pasha de Cartier
By the 1980s, Cartier had become a well-known high-end watch brand, and the release of the Cartier Pasha watch solidified this reputation.
Legend has it that Thami El Glaoui, the Pasha of Marrakesh, Morocco, asked Louis Cartier to make a beautiful gold fine watch that was both practical and a statement piece. He reportedly wanted a water-resistant watch to wear during daily swims that he could also don during state dinners.3
Regardless of the veracity of that origin story, the famous Gerald Genta designed the Cartier model in the 1980s and it retained the widely popular dual aesthetics of a luxury dive-watch. Pasha models typically have a round case, rotating bezel, and ticks on the watch face rather than the traditional Cartier Roman numerals for a more modern appearance.
Because Pasha designs range from the simple to the Baroque, the pricing of these models has quite a drastic range. On the low end, vintage Pashas can be found for around $6,000, but it’s not unheard of to find pieces for sale at around $145,000.
4. Ballon Bleu de Cartier
Finally, a more recent addition to the Cartier collection from the early aughts that has captivated the attention of men and women alike is the Ballon Bleu style.4
This round design with the distinct Cartier Roman numerals has been unisex from the get-go, unlike other Cartier styles. This very chic design and incredible movement have been a hit with both men and women who are interested in its modern elegance.
Like the Pasha, Ballon Bleu prices can range quite a bit thanks to an assortment of possible embellishments on the bezel. These watches can cost from around $4,500 to upwards of $140,000.
CJ Charles: A Trusted Cartier Seller for Watches
Although there are lots of choices for unisex vintage Cartier styles, it can be difficult to narrow down options and find quality, authenticated pieces.
Thankfully, CJ Charles is here to help. Regardless of your individual tastes, our experts can help you find the perfect Cartier watch. Because when it comes to vintage timepieces, these items aren’t just watches, they’re showstopping statement pieces. CJ Charles experts are particularly well-versed in vintage watches and they can help you find exactly what you’re looking for, check its condition, and ensure its authenticity so you can enjoy timeless Cartier style for years to come.
Start your Cartier watch legacy today, with CJ Charles!
Written By: Vahid Morai
Vahid Moradi’s lifelong passion, dedication, and commitment for the jewelry industry led him to become the respected owner of CJ Charles Jewelers in 1988. From that moment, Moradi’s single focus in business was to become recognized as the pinnacle of value and world-class quality in the his Community. Over 34 years later, CJ Charles continues to grow and thrive as a successful, family-owned business that consistently provides exceptional service to all their clientele.
- Robb Report. How the Watch Word’s Most Enduring Designs Became Unisex Timepieces. https://robbreport.com/style/watch-collector/unisex-watches-1234642130/
- Gray and Sons. A Guide To Different Cartier Tank Watches. https://www.grayandsons.com/blog/a-guide-to-different-cartier-tank-watches
- GQ Middle East. Pasha de Cartier: History, Heritage and Style. https://www.gqmiddleeast.com/watches/pasha-de-cartier-watch
- Swiss Watches Magazine. Point of View: Cartier Ballon Bleu de Cartier. https://swisswatches-magazine.com/blog/point-of-view-cartier-ballon-bleu-de-cartier-36mm/
- The Watch Lounge. This Is Why The Cartier Santos Is So Popular. https://thewatchlounge.com/cartier-santos-de-santos-ref-wssa0009-review-with-price/
- Xupes. Know your Cartier Tanks. https://www.xupes.com/magazine/article/2016/04/25/know-your-cartier-tanks