When Louis Cartier created the first Panthère bracelet-watch in 1914, a legend was born. Jewelry pieces including bracelets, brooches and rings soon followed. Avant-garde jeweler Jeanne Toussaint designed the panther-themed jewels for the French maison. The panther has been Cartier’s symbol ever since.
Status & Style: The Original Panthère Watches
The first Panthère watches were introduced in the 1980s at the height of the disco era and created for women only. The watch was, in essence, a piece of jewelry that also told the time. Conspicuous consumerism, extravagance and hedonism also defined this decadent decade, when Diana Ross and Calvin Klein could be found partying with Andy Warhol at Studio 54. Songs like Rick James’ Super Freak, Madonna’s Like a Prayer and Duran Duran’s Notorious were at the top of the charts. Ronald Reagan was in the White House, and Pac-Man had the nation mesmerized. Wearing an expensive gold watch was a status symbol and women couldn’t get enough of them.
Cartier Panthère Gold & Steel Watch, $2,195; Cartier Panthère Gold, Diamond & Enamel Watch, $18,495; Cartier Panthère Gold Watch, $3,895
A men’s all-steel Panthère watch appeared on the scene in 1991 to instant success. Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones was photographed wearing one on a plane with Mick Jagger. Pierce Brosnan, who played James Bond at the time, was also spotted wearing a steel Panthère. Production for all Panthère watches ceased in 2004, but a new ladies collection has just been reintroduced to tremendous success.
Sleek & Supple: Panthère Maillon Jewelry
“The panther can be fierce, playful, or lovable, displaying all the facets of its liberated personality from one collection to the next,” says Cartier. The Maillon Panthère collection of slinky chain links was designed to “sensually wrap around the hand, wrist or decollete in voluptuous fashion,” according to the brand. Each link in the Maillon collection is individually attached, to achieve maximum movement and comfort. The collection’s rings, bracelets, necklaces and watches come in a plethora of metal and jewel options including diamond-set, multicolored gold and gold mixed with steel (for watches only). Maillon wedding bands have a modern yet classic look for a special bride or groom.
Cartier Maillon Panthère Wedding Band, $1,895; Cartier Maillon Panthère Link Bracelet, $5,295; Cartier Diamond Maillon Panthère Ring, $5,195
Animal Instincts: Panthère Symbol Jewelry
Ranging from roaring heads to full-body panthers and everything in between, Cartier’s panther-shaped jewelry runs the gamut from ferocious to tame. Everyday jewelry, cocktail jewels, high jewelry and even belt buckles are included in the vast collection. Rings in the panther head motif pack a style statement of strength, while diamond-encrusted full-body ornamented rings invoke gentle and soothing emotions. Panther head stud and drop earrings are both precious and whimsical.
Cartier Panthère de Cartier Diamond, Gold & Emerald Brooch, $16,995; Cartier Panthère Gold Watch, $9,375; Cartier Panthère de Cartier Gold & Tsavorite Ring, $12,000
Fit For A King: Panthère High Jewelry
One-of-a-kind pieces are at the pinnacle of the Panthère collection. Brooches, cuff bracelets and rings incorporate exceptional precious stones including rare rubies, opals and emeralds in this collection. These one-off pieces are the stuff of legends and dreams. Custom-ordered pieces are a specialty at Cartier; the Duchess of Windsor commissioned dozens of panther-shaped jewelry pieces during her lifetime, including a flexible white gold and diamond panther bracelet that wrapped her wrist, and a giant brooch featuring a diamond-encrusted panther seated atop a 152-carat star sapphire. King Edward VII of France declared Cartier “the jeweler of kings, and the king of jewelers.” We couldn’t agree more.
Keeping It Real
Cartier is one of the most popular brands for counterfeiters worldwide. Fake “Cartier” jewelry and watches are widely available and some of the copied pieces look very close to the real thing. They may even be made of gold and have real diamonds. “The counterfeiting world is changing rapidly and adopting relatively sophisticated technology,” says our resident horologist Lance Maxwell. “It is getting more and more challenging to identify counterfeits. The best way to authenticate a Cartier watch is to open the case and examine the movement,” he continues, a measure we take with every watch to ensure authenticity. “Even then, it is tricky; you have to know the movements Cartier uses.” Opening watch cases is best left to a professional. There is a high risk of permanent damage to the watch’s mechanics if opened in an incorrect manner.
“One thing I still find is that you will see (under magnification) a layer of blue lacquer on the hands,” says Maxwell. “The hands will be thick and rounded from the application of the blue lacquer. Cartier uses blued steel (from precise heat treatment) for their hands; therefore, the hands will have the thickness and two-dimensionality of a delicately thin piece of steel. Bluing steel is a precise, delicate and expensive process that counterfeiters are still unable to duplicate in a cost-effective manner.” Here at The RealReal, our experts authenticate every item we sell. We guarantee authenticity so that you can buy and sell with confidence.
The Panthère of the Future
Today, the Panthère ladies watch is back with a vengeance. It is exactly like the original watch, minus the second hand and date for a sleeker look. Could a new men’s Panthère watch be on the horizon? Is Cartier set to introduce more jewelry in its iconic design? Only time will tell.