So what really separates Rolexes vs Cartier wristwatches? Choosing the best luxury watch for you is not an easy task to do.
There are things you must consider to be sure you are not making the wrong decision, especially if you are planning to start your own watch-collecting journey.
We reviewed every angle of the brands in a head-to-head battle and compared them for design, performance, and movements.
In summary, it was close, but after days of reviewing, here’s what we found:
- Rolex offers better value.
- Cartier offers more sophistication.
We ultimately chose Rolex as the winner, with the brand being great for beginners and seasoned watch collectors.
Let’s go ahead and check out the head-to-head battle between Rolex and Cartier watches.
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Rolex History Timeline
Here are some highlights from the history of Rolex watches:
1905 – Hans Wilsdorf founded a timepiece distribution company in London, England.
1908 – The company is renamed Rolex.
1910 – First to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision for a watch.
1919 – The company moves to Geneva, Switzerland.
1933 – The first expedition to fly over Everest was equipped with Rolex Oysters.
1945 – Rolex created the first automatic watch to display the date.
1951 – Gives 150,000th chronometer, a gold Datejust, to General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
1985 – First watchmaker to use 904L steel for a standard-production model.
2002 – Establishes Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.
2012 – Deepsea Challenge watch accompanies James Cameron’s solo dive to Mariana Trench.
2017 – Becomes the Exclusive Watch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Cartier History Timeline
Here are some highlights from the history of Cartier watches:
1847 – Louis-Francois Cartier founded the company in Paris, France.
1874 – Louis-Francois Cartier retires, and Alfred Cartier, his son, takes over the family business.
1904 – Cartier makes the first pilot wristwatch for Alberto Santos Dumont. He named it the Santos Dumont.
1912 – Cartier brand launched the first Baignoire and Tortue models.
1919 – Inspired by the Renault tank in World War 1, the watch brand designs the Cartier Tank wristwatch.
1933 – Pasha de Cartier watch was made, one of the earliest water-resistant watches.
1987 – Cartier Tank Americaine was introduced to the public.
2007 – Cartier makes and introduces the first watch from the Ballon Bleu de Cartier collection.
2011 – The release of Cartier calibre 1904MC, the first in-house movement made by the brand.
2016 – Introduced the Cartier Drive watch, one of the modern pieces produced by the luxury brand.
Brand Champions and Product Marketing
Both Cartier and Rolex are regarded for their elegance, quality, and functionality. Luxury watches from these brands are proven to be the staple timepieces worn by the most notable persons around the world.
Rolex watches are often known for their precision and durability, even if exposed to harsh environments. That is why they strategically partnered with influential figures in various fields, from sports to the world of exploration.
Some of the most influential ambassadors of this watch brand are Roger Federer, Michael Buble, and Tiger Woods. They even sponsored the Legendary oceanographer Sylvia Earle for her scientific activities to safeguard the vast stretches of the planet hidden beneath the waves.
On the other hand, the Cartier watch brand was more associated with monarchs and celebrities since its establishment in the 1800s. Cartier watches can be seen worn by Princess Diana and Kate Middleton.
And to bolster their marketing campaign, they also partnered with a new generation of talents like Rami Malek, Emma Chamberlain, and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Rolex Watches vs. Cartier Watches
When it comes to design, both Rolex and Cartier have their own distinct taste in classiness and elegance.
Rolex watches are highly desirable for men with active lifestyles, thanks to their iconic designs that embody their pursuit of excellence, precision, and achievements. The Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona is considered the most iconic watch from the brand that proves this point.
But if you are looking for a classic watch that boasts elegance and beauty, a Cartier timepiece is the perfect choice for you. They are known for their vintage models that exhibit a distinct blend of luxury, sophistication, and fine artistry. You can never go wrong with their timepiece.
If we compare Rolex and Cartier watches when it comes to overall performance, we can easily say that Rolex has a slight advantage. Although both are built with top-tier quality, there is a difference in how they prioritize different aspects of watchmaking.
A Rolex watch is widely regarded for its precision and durability. Their timepieces are designed to withstand extreme conditions and have been tested at the earth’s highest peak and even in the deepest part of the sea. They are best known for their reliable sports and dive watches.
Cartier watches, on the other hand, don’t have the same superior accuracy as Rolex watches. This is because they prioritize aesthetic appeal and craftsmanship more than their performance. But don’t get us wrong, Cartier watches still offer refined and reliable at timekeeping.
With that, we certainly believe that Rolex wins in this particular aspect of comparison.
Watch movement is a very important aspect to consider in selecting luxury watches. If you want a luxury watch with quartz movement, opt for a Cartier watch, as Rolex doesn’t have many quartz models to choose from.
But if you prefer wearing mechanical watches, we recommend choosing a Rolex model. They are known for their in-house movements and undergo very rigorous testing to guarantee the highest precision compared to most mechanical watches.
In contrast, Cartier timepieces have not achieved the status of Superlative Chronometer with a level of accuracy of +2/-2 seconds per day that Rolex mechanical watches possess.
Rolex Watches vs. Cartier Model Comparisons
When looking for an everyday watch, you must consider its versatility, comfort, and durability. Since this watch is designed for day-to-day wear, it should be versatile enough to complement your overall style effectively.
Luckily both Rolex and Cartier have some exceptional models to offer.
Here are the best Rolex and Cartier watches that fit well in the everyday watch category.
Rolex Datejust vs. Cartier Ronde Must De Cartier
|Rolex Datejust Ref. M126300-0008||Cartier Ronde Must De Cartier Ref. CRWSRN0035|
|Dimensions||41mm diameter, 12mm thickness||40mm diameter, 9.62mm thickness|
|Case Material||Oyster Steel||Stainless Steel|
|Band||Jubilee Bracelet||Stainless Steel Bracelet|
|Water Resistance||100 meters||30 meters|
|Caliber||Caliber 3235||Caliber 1847 MC|
|Movement||Automatic 70 hours Power Reserve||Automatic 42 hours Power Reserve|
|Retail Price||Starting at $7,950||Starting at $4,700|
Chronographs are timepieces equipped with functions such as a stopwatch to measure and record time. They are specifically designed watches to help their wearer do specific tasks with ease and efficiency.
This type of watch is commonly used by athletes and sports car drivers.
Here are two of the finest Chronograph models from Rolex and Cartier.
Rolex Daytona vs. Cartier Santos De Cartier Chronograph
|Rolex Daytona Ref. M126506-0001||Cartier Santos De Cartier Chronograph Ref. CRWSSA0017|
|Dimensions||40mm diameter, 11.9mm thickness||43mm diameter, 12.4mm thickness|
|Case Material||Platinum||Stainless Steel|
|Band||Oyster Bracelet||Rubber Strap|
|Water Resistance||100 meters||100 meters|
|Caliber||Caliber 4131||Caliber 1904 CH MC|
|Movement||Automatic 72 hours Power Reserve||Automatic 48 hours Power Reserve|
|Retail Price||Starting at $75,000||Starting at $9,750|
A dress watch is specifically designed to be worn with formal attire. These watches are aesthetically elegant and designed to complement the overall appearance and style of the wearer in formal or professional settings.
There are many models from these brands which can fit into this category. Even an entry-level Cartier watch or Rolex timepiece can be a good choice.
But here are the finest pieces you should consider if you are looking for the best dress watches from these watchmaking brands.
Rolex Day-Date vs. Cartier Santos Dumont
|Rolex Day-Date 40 Ref. M228239-0004||Cartier Santos Dumont Ref. CRWSSA0022|
|Dimensions||40mm diameter, 12mm thickness||43.5mm x 31.4mm diameter, 7.3 thickness|
|Case Material||White Gold||Stainless Steel|
|Band||President Bracelet||Blue alligator leather strap|
|Water Resistance||100 meters||30 meters|
|Movement||Automatic 70 hours Power Reserve||Quartz movement|
|Retail Price||Starting at $41,500||Starting at $4,200|
Rolex watches don’t only hold their value over the years. In fact, there is no other watch brand that can compare to Rolex in terms of excellent resale value.
Although they are generally considered expensive watches, there are also affordable Rolex timepieces that offer a reasonable price as long as you know what you are looking for.
And to give you an overview of every Rolex watch model, from their sports watches to dive watches, here is an updated price list.
|Datejust||Starting at $7,700|
|Day-Date||Starting at $38,500|
|Daytona||Starting at $15,100|
|Submariner||Starting at $9,100|
|Milgauss||Starting at $9,300|
|GMT-Master II||Starting at $10,700|
|Yacht Master||Starting at $11,550|
|Sea-Dweller||Starting at $13,250|
|Oyster Perpetual||Starting at $6,400|
|Air King||Starting at $7,000|
|Explorer||Starting at $7,250|
|Sky-Dweller||Starting at $15,650|
|1908||Starting at $22,000|
Unfortunately, Cartier watches don’t hold their value as great as Rolex watches can. But their resale value in the secondary market is not that bad compared to other luxury watch brands in the industry.
Moreover, Cartier watches are a good alternative if you are looking for affordable luxury watches, especially if you can’t afford a Rolex model.
And to give you a detailed price list of every Cartier watch model, check this table below.
|Santos De Cartier||Starting at $2,600|
|Tank Louis Cartier||Starting at $10,200|
|Tank Must||Starting at $2,920|
|Ronde Must De Cartier||Starting at $2,700|
|Santos Dumont||Starting at $3,900|
|Tank Francaise||Starting at $3,700|
|Ballon Bleu De Cartier||Starting at $5,500|
|Pasha De Cartier||Starting at $5,300|
Both Rolex and Cartier have nearly 100% global brand recognition. Almost all of us know that they are two of the best luxury brands in the watch industry. This means that watches from these watch brands are all in demand.
In fact, in 2022, Rolex and Cartier take the #1 and #2 spots in terms of revenue and unit sold.
But if you compare these two brands, we can fairly say that acquiring certain models of Rolex watches is much harder than Cartier watches. This is due to the Rolex brand’s prestige, limited production, and overflowing demands.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. Rolex watches can hold more value than any Cartier watch model.
According to the 2022 Morgan Stanley report, Cartier watches currently rank #2 in terms of revenue and units sold.
Cartier is a famous luxury watch brand that offers some of the most desirable timepieces in the watchmaking industry.
Rolex Vs Cartier – Conclusion
And there you have it! That is our honest and head-to-head comparison of two famous luxury Swiss watch brands.
Our best overall watch brand here is Rolex!
We hope that this guide will help you gain a more in-depth appreciation for the timepieces created by these exceptional brands.
Are you looking for affordable luxury watches to start your watch collection journey? If so, feel free to check out our article about the cheapest watch models available.