Choosing Between Cartier and Jaeger-LeCoultre
Cartier and Jaeger-LeCoultre are two of the most respected names in the watch world. Additionally, collectors often find themselves choosing between these two brands because there is so much overlap in their offerings. For example, many people who are looking for an elegant luxury watch come to the Cartier Santos, Cartier Tank, and Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. What they end up with is a seriously tough choice. Below, I do my best to help you make that decision for yourself.
Cartier was established by a French entrepreneur in 1847. Today, it is part of a greater conglomerate, but it retained family ownership for over 100 years. The brand has always been synonymous with luxury, but not always with luxury watches. In fact, Cartier is likely best known for its jewelry manufacturing. Their history of supplying royal families with priceless jewels supports that reputation, along with King Edward VII calling them “the jeweler of kings and the king of jewelers.”
Jaeger-LeCoultre has a more typical watch manufacturer history. It began in 1833, and the brand quickly became a large-scale producer of timepieces. They were so proficient that they even supplied many other big-name companies, one of them being Patek Philippe. One thing that you might find amusing in this comparison is that Cartier and Jaeger-LeCoultre once had a similar relationship, where the latter supplied the former with movements. This company was and still is considered one of the great luxury watchmakers in the world.
Despite having many similar watches, these two horological giants actually have significantly different brand identities. Cartier’s defining characteristics are being elegant and having a very diverse catalog. They sell jewelry and a variety of other items, all of them meticulously crafted with luxury in mind. Jaeger-LeCoultre, on the other hand, is more of a pure watchmaker. They seek elegance as well, but their devotion to offering only watches leads to a different identity.
Cartier essentially only offers luxury watches. You’ll find sportier models here and there, but they do almost all of their work in the dress watch space. Jaeger-LeCoultre has a more well-rounded catalog. Browsing through it, you’ll find dress watches, chronographs, GMTs, and everything in between. Simply put, Cartier really only offers products in one niche. Jaeger-LeCoultre does so in many.
Cartier’s Iconic Watches
Cartier is most famous for the following 3 collections.
- Tank – The Tank is one of the oldest watch models in the world. Inspired by military equipment from World War I, this gorgeous design has stood the test of time and become an absolute classic.
- Santos – This collection is similar to the Tank, but sports a square shape, rather than a rectangle. It is another timepiece that seems to never go out of style. With such a timeless design, it isn’t surprising that this is the case.
- Ballon – Cartier’s two most recognizable watches have a rectangular shape. Still, they also do circles, with the Ballon likely being the most notable example. Collectors who prefer a timepiece that is a bit less common often opt for this collection over the Santos and Tank.
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Iconic Watches
The 3 collections below are the most popular among Jaeger-LeCoultre buyers.
- Reverso – The Reverso is a fantastic timepiece from top to bottom, has an amazing history, and entrances collectors with its reversible face. Add all of those together and you have a can’t-miss watch.
- Master – This collection is absolutely beautiful and offers some very cool features, one of them being a moon phase. It is an excellent option for those of you who want luxury but don’t love the Reverso.
- Polaris – While Jaeger-LeCoultre is best known as a luxury brand, they have some fantastic sporty pieces in their Polaris collection. This is where they incorporate chronographs and other aviation capabilities.
How to Choose Between Them
If you still can’t decide, I recommend looking at the following 3 points.
- 1: Style – As we’ve discussed, Cartier really only offers one style. It is elegant and luxurious dress watches. If that’s what you want, you will still have a tough choice. On the other hand, if you prefer something a bit different, like a chronograph, then Jaeger-LeCoultre is the clear choice.
- 2: Aesthetics – Another easy way to decide is by looking at appearances. Does one watch jump out at you as having a truly exceptional design? If so, get it.
- 3: Brand Identity – Lastly, you might take issue with the fact that Cartier is better known as a jeweler. This would lead you to Jaeger-LeCoultre, a purer watchmaker. You might feel the opposite way too, as Cartier’s reputation may appeal to you.
I hope you now have some clarity as to which of these two exceptional brands is right for you. The good news is that you really can’t go wrong in making this choice. Why? Because fantastic companies like Cartier and Jaeger-LeCoultre don’t disappoint buyers very often.