The Ultimate Guide to Buying Pre-Owned Cartier Watches


Cartier is one of the most prestigious and iconic luxury watch brands in the world. Founded in Paris in 1847, the French jeweler and watchmaker has a rich history of creating exquisite timepieces that are both beautiful and technologically advanced.

From the legendary Tank and Santos models to the more contemporary Ballon Bleu and Drive de Cartier, Cartier watches are known for their elegant designs, exceptional craftsmanship, and precision movements.

While brand-new Cartier watches can cost tens of thousands of dollars, the pre-owned and vintage watch market offers an opportunity to own an authentic one at a more accessible price point.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about buying second-hand Cartier watches including:

  • A Brief History of Cartier and Their Most Iconic Watch Models
  • Where to Buy Authentic Second-Hand Cartier Watches
  • What to Look For When Buying Men’s vs. Women’s Second-Hand Cartier
  • Recommended Used Cartier Watches Like the Tank, Santos, and Ballon Bleu
  • Verifying Authenticity of Second-Hand Cartier Timepieces
  • Cost Savings of Buying Used vs. New Cartier Watches

Whether you’re looking for a men's or ladies' second-hand Cartier timepiece, this guide will equip you with expert tips for finding the perfect previously owned watch.

A Brief History of Cartier Watches

Cartier has a rich history that dates back over 170 years to 1847 when Louis-François Cartier took ownership of his master’s jewelry workshop at 29 Rue Montorgueil in Paris.

The company grew under Louis-François and his sons Pierre, Alfred, and Louis Cartier who expanded the brand internationally. They gained fame for creating exquisite jewelry and watches for royalty, celebrities, and the wealthy elite.

Some of Cartier's most notable early clients included kings like Edward VII of England and Alfonso XIII of Spain as well as creatives like Andy Warhol. The iconic panther motif and Trinity ring were created during this era.

Over the decades, Cartier has pioneered numerous watchmaking innovations. For example, they created one of the first men’s wristwatches, the Santos, in 1904. Cartier also produced the first pilot’s watch (the Santos-Dumont) and the first water-resistant watch, the Oyster.

Let’s look at some of Cartier’s most important watch models over the years:

Santos - Created in 1904, the Santos is one of the oldest men's wristwatches. It was designed for Cartier's friend and aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont who needed a practical timepiece to use while flying. The Art Deco watch features a square bezel, Roman numerals, and exposed screws.

Tank - Debuting in 1917, the iconic Tank drew inspiration from the newly introduced tanks on the Western Front during World War I. With its rectangular case and clean minimal dial, the Tank remains a classic over a century later.

Pasha de Cartier - Launched in the 1980s, the sporty Pasha was created for the Pasha of Marrakesh. It has a round case surrounded by a stylized Arabic grid pattern on the dial.

Ballon Bleu de Cartier - This contemporary round watch was released in 2007 and quickly gained popularity. Its distinguishing feature is the sapphire cabochon crown set into a winding fluted bezel.

Where to Buy Pre-Owned Cartier Watches

When shopping for used Cartier watches, it's essential that you purchase from a reputable and trusted seller. Here are some of the best places to buy authentic Cartier timepieces:

Trustworthy Online Watch Retailers - Top online watch dealers like Debonar Watches specialize in second-hand luxury timepieces including Cartier. They thoroughly inspect and authenticate the watches they sell.

Chrono24 - This online marketplace has a large selection of used Cartier watches. Be sure to buy only from highly-rated sellers and verify the watch with a professional authenticator.

Trustworthy Pawn Shops – Reputable local pawn shops that specialize in luxury goods are a good option for finding second-hand watches. Carefully inspect the watch for authenticity or have it appraised.

Auction Houses - Respected online auctioneers like Catawiki occasionally sell vintage and used Cartiers that come with certificates of authenticity. This route requires winning an auction bid.

Cartier Boutiques - Some Cartier boutiques sell certified second-hand collections curated by the brand itself. These watches pass Cartier’s rigorous authentication process.

how to recognize real cartier or fake cartier

Things to Look for in Men's vs. Women's Second-hand Cartier

When evaluating a second-hand Cartier timepiece, there are several aspects to look for to determine authenticity and condition - especially key differences between men’s and women's models.

For men's Cartier watches, key indicators include:

  • Case Engravings - Authentic Cartiers will have “Cartier” engraved on the outside case back. Screw-down casebacks may also indicate model names like “Santos.”
  • Hallmarks - Inside the case back, look for hallmarks like the Cartier name, serial number, reference number, and metal purity stampings (e.g. 18K or 750 for 18k gold).
  • Movements - Many Cartier men's watches contain in-house Cartier or Jaeger-LeCoultre movements visible through a sapphire crystal exhibition case back.
  • Dials - Cartier men's watches often feature Roman numeral hour markers and blued steel hands. Genuine “Cartier” signatures should be present on the dial.

For women's Cartier watches, key indicators include:

  • Gemstone Quality - Any gemstones on ladies' Cartier models should show no discoloration and have secure settings. Natural diamonds may contain minor imperfections.
  • Case and Bezel - Women’s Cartier cases often feature pave gemstones or enameling without excessive wear. Rotating bezels should turn smoothly.
  • Dials - Dials on ladies’ Cartier watches frequently have Roman numerals, guilloche engraving, or Art Deco patterns. Logos should appear clearly without cracking.
  • Bracelets - Whether metal, leather or stone, bracelets should not have broken links or obvious repairs. Correct Cartier-signed clasps should fasten securely.

No matter the model, always look for signs of damage like scratches, dents, missing gems, or aftermarket parts as these lower value. Optimal pre-owned Cartiers show minimal wear.

Recommended Second-hand Cartier Watches

Here are 5 of the top used Cartier models to look for across different price points:

Cartier Tank – Elegant manual wind or quartz Tank models can be found pre-owned from around €2,000 to €7,000 for solid gold. Opt for well-preserved Art Deco styles from the early and mid-20th century.

Cartier Santos – Ranging from €2,500 to over €10,000 resale, the Santos features a square case and Roman numerals. Well-kept full gold vintage men’s Santos watches are most coveted. Ladies models with diamonds also have beautiful allure.

Cartier Panthere – This lady's luxury sports watch has a diamond-studded bezel and quartz movement. Pre-owned Panthere watches are obtainable for €4,000 to €12,000 depending on diamond quality and metals.

Cartier Ballon Bleu – Modern automatic Ballon Bleu models for men and women sell pre-owned from around €4,500 up to €15,000+ for diamond-encrusted styles in precious metals.

Cartier Roadster – The sporty automatic Roadster for men has a round case and robust build making it an excellent everyday luxury watch. Pre-owned Roadsters can be found between €3,000 to €7,000 in good condition.

Verifying Authenticity of Used Cartier Watches

When purchasing a second-hand Cartier timepiece, it’s critically important to verify authenticity. Here are some tips:

  • Review seller reputation carefully and buy only from trusted watch sellers with strong credibility.
  • Inspect markings like serial numbers, reference numbers, and hallmarks to ensure they match genuine Cartier watch engraving conventions.
  • Open the case back and movement to check for proper Cartier or associated name-brand movements like Piaget or Jaeger-LeCoultre.
  • Look for clean Cartier logos on dials without smudging, uneven printing, or inconsistent lettering.
  • Evaluate workmanship details like bezel fittings, crown, and clasp construction to ensure top quality.
  • Take the watch to an authorized Cartier dealer, qualified watchmaker, or appraiser to authenticate before purchasing.
  • Verify any authentication paperwork like original certificates and valuation documents.
  • Research the watch’s history and backstory via the seller to aid authentication.

Buying a mint condition, completely original Cartier timepiece is ideal. But even watches with appropriate period replacement parts or restorations can make fine pre-owned purchases with the proper verification.

The Savings of Buying Used vs. New Cartier One of the biggest advantages of buying a pre-owned Cartier watch is the significant cost savings compared to purchasing brand new.

For example, a new men’s Cartier Tank Solo in steel retails for around €5,200 USD at an official Cartier boutique. A pre-owned example in excellent shape might cost between €2,500 to €3,500 - over 35% less.

Pre-owned Cartier Santos models from the 1990s in 18k gold can be found for €6,000 to €8,000, versus upwards of €18,000 for a new 2022 Santos in solid gold from Cartier directly.

Ladies with champagne taste can snap up a pre-owned Panthere with diamonds and automatic movement for €8,000 to €12,000 instead of €38,000 or more for a sparkling new model.

Even vintage Cartier watches from the 1920s through 1960s like Tank Normale and Tortue models can sometimes be uncovered for just a few thousand dollars pre-owned. Similar new Cartier offerings would cost tens of thousands instead.

As long as they are properly authenticated, pre-owned Cartier watches offer tremendous value compared to brand-new timepieces direct from Cartier boutiques. With the savings, you can pay for inspections, appraisals, maintenance, and even insurance to protect your investment.

The tradition and craftsmanship of Cartier come through brilliantly in their vintage timepieces. By following this guide, you can find the perfect previously owned Cartier watch to enjoy for many years as a treasured heirloom and financial asset.


Cartier Collection


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