Cartier’s Cufflinks And Watches: Sophistication With A Nicely Personal Touch
Since its very early years, one of Cartier’s strengths aside from jewelry and watches has surprisingly been accessories for men. In fact, cufflinks have appeared in Cartier records as far back as 1859.
These accessories, today still essential to a gentleman’s wardrobe, can be found in many sketches scattered throughout the Cartier design archives. Just like other accessories such as lighters, cigarette boxes, pens, rings, and bracelets.
While rings and bracelets are not likely to be on every man’s wish list, cufflinks are often seen as the only jewelry a man can wear in addition to his watch and wedding band or signet ring. As ties are slowly moving out of fashion it seems that more and more men wear suits with a good shirt but no tie, even in the office. Which means that tie clips are also out.
Almost a paradox, it seems that because of this cufflinks are becoming more popular as a discrete way for men to express themselves. Just as a man often has several watches for different occasions, cufflinks follow the same path. Especially when the cufflinks are matched with the watch, they provide a sophisticated look with a nicely personal touch.
Finding the right match between cufflinks and watch is what I would like to explore here.
1960s to now: Cartier Santos Daily Mood
Cartier was the one jeweler usually interested in providing smart designs with beautiful closures in its collection, and its flagship boutique in London’s New Bond Street always had the largest stocked collection in Europe. Such as the various “studs and bars” links from the 1960s, an example of which is pictured below in yellow gold with carnelian bars.
These studs were made in 18-karat white or yellow gold, while the bars were available in jade, malachite, lapis lazuli, gold, steel, glass, and even mahogany. For the past 20 years this model has not been available, but earlier this year these smart-looking and impossible-to-lose cufflinks returned to the Cartier collection. Now called Santos Daily Mood, they are slightly revised but still as smart as they used to be.
The design and mechanism are strongly inspired by the 1960s version, but the two different-era models are unfortunately not interchangeable, which means that the vintage tubes cannot be used on the new mechanism and vice versa.
This is not a significant problem as the new Santos Daily Mood cufflinks come as a set in 18-karat gold or palladium-finish sterling silver with no less than five sets of bars included. And they are friendlier in price than the originals!
The new model’s bars are made of striped chalcedony, silver obsidian, malachite, sodalite, or red tiger’s eye and they form a nice palette of colors to easily match your shirt. The return of these cufflinks measuring 7 x 4.5 mm (head) and 5 x 22.5 mm (stone) to Cartier’s collection form a real asset. From my point of view, these are a must-have for men who like a discreet set of cufflinks.
1980s: Cartier Trinity and Love
Around 1985, wraparound cufflinks like the Trinity and Love lines became very popular.
These links often become discussion starters since the way they go around the cuff is quite eye catching and unusual. The recently introduced yellow or pink gold Juste un Clou cufflinks continue this tradition.
In my opinion, cufflinks should not be too whimsical; when they are, they start to become cheap looking, which misses the point. And what I find essential for a good pair of cufflinks is – and this is not always easy to find – that they look good on both sides.
In that respect, Cartier has always been ahead of the pack with a collection, which, from a design point of view, did not have much competition. Nowadays, however, quality has been overtaken by quantity, and at “La Maison” standard solutions have also arrived.
Though models come and go, the current collection contains more than 60 different pairs so there are enough unique designs to choose from.
From the cool and simple Elongated C-shaped links in sterling silver with a palladium finish for daily wear to the more precious Trinity model in three colors of gold, the knot design is universal, suiting any style or occasion. It has been in Cartier’s collection for many years.
Cufflinks can be worn as easily with a traditional suit and shirt as with a French-cuffed shirt and now even combined with jeans and a suede jacket. These little creations often best matching the style of the wearer’s watch are ideal to emphasize a man’s personal look.
Cartier’s Pasha cufflinks from the 1980s were a great example. As are the current Santos de Cartier cufflinks in palladium-coated sterling silver with a synthetic blue spinel that matches the crown of many of Cartier’s white-metal watches – be it one of the new Santos watches, the Drive de Cartier, or the new steel Tank Américaine.
The silver-and-jade bamboo links unfortunately only remained a short time in Cartier’s cufflink collection and they can now only be found at auction. But a set of these was undoubtedly the best match with the platinum Tank Chinoise for an example of great pairing.
The very affordable cufflinks boasting Panthère head decor in palladium-coated sterling silver, black and green lacquer, and green jade from the current collection are in my opinion a must-have.
Or if you’re willing to spend a bit more, the re-introduced larger version in yellow gold with tsavorite eyes, black lacquer nose, and black onyx half-bead are also divine.
These designs link back to the panther theme instituted by Jeanne Toussaint, director of haute joaillerie in 1933. Aside from the fact that these panther heads are pieces of art, they also make an excellent match with the panther watch of your partner – because we are still waiting for the men’s version of this legendary watch from the 1980s.
But the showstoppers are without a doubt the Panthères in rhodium-plated 18-karat gold set with diamonds, two emerald eyes, an onyx nose, and a black onyx half bead. These measure 9 x 12 x 15 mm.
These links are possibly not the ones to accompany you to business meetings, but they will certainly put you in the spotlight at any festive occasion from an intimate private dinner to a charity gala or wedding party.
Christmas and New Year’s parties are for many the ultimate time to wear cufflinks, but these small accessories, especially the affordable versions in silver, should actually belong to an everyday outfit in my opinion.
Pricing Cartier cufflinks
Santos de Cartier Daily Mood (in gold): €5,400
Santos de Cartier Daily Mood (silver): €2,270
Juste un Clou (yellow gold): €3,850
Elongated C (silver): €600
Trinity Knot: €3,900
Panthère (silver): €1,750
Panthère (gold): €9,200
Panthère (diamond set): €35,700
Note: Cartier jewelry is available exclusively at Cartier boutiques or through its ecommerce platforms
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Also published on Medium.