When one mentions French brand Cartier, one of the oldest and most popular watchmakers and jewelers in the world, some of the first models that would come to mind are probably the Santos, the first modern wristwatch, and the Tank, one of the most iconic and successful watches of all time.
In this article, we’ll talk about a Cartier model that may not be as popular as the two, but is equally creative and revolutionary. The Cartier Roadster, though discontinued after a little over a decade, continues to enjoy popularity among watch collectors and aficionados.
Following the distinct styles of other Cartier models (such as the classic tank and the square-shaped Santos), the Cartier Roadster has an iconic look of a tonneau-shaped case (tonneau means “barrel” in French), a shape that was used by Cartier around 1906.
The Cartier Roadster watch was inspired by sports cars from the 1960s (think Mercedes Benz and Aston Martin), thus the name. It became a popular sports and dress watch, available in men’s (43mm x 38mm) and women’s (36mm x 30mm) sizes, as well as in automatic and quartz movements.
The watch has models with both Roman and Arabic numerals and both with chronograph and GMT functions. Throughout the years, when Cartier was still selling them, the Roadster also had releases with features that are more luxurious (dotted with diamonds, for instance).
One of the most famous features of a Cartier Roadster model is the dial that takes its inspiration from the Porsche 356 speedometer from the 1950s. This is the model with Arabic numeral markers, known to fans as the “Las Vegas” dial.
It is also likely that the crown was inspired by cars too—some agree that it looks like rally wheels of a Corvette, while others say that it looks like a car radiator. This is one of the brand’s first models to have the quick-release lug system, which allows easy strap or bracelet replacement.
When & Why Was The Cartier Roadster Discontinued?
The Cartier Roadster was released by Cartier in 2001. The French watchmaker discontinued production of the watch around 2012. Since then, the Cartier Roadster only became available in the pre-owned watch market.
Around the late 2000s, Cartier released the Roaster S model. This model had a relatively friendlier price tag, and the same classic tonneau case. It, however, got rid of some elements like the screws on the lugs.
The watch may have had a relatively short run, but it continues to be regarded as one of the most iconic sports watches ever produced. From the unique case and distinct design to the high-quality watchmaking, Roadster models continue to be popular, available in second-hand stores.