How to Tell If a Cartier Watch Is Genuine

Updated May 10, 2017

Louis Cartier, the famous French watchmaker who lived from 1875 to 1942, created the Santos timepiece in 1902 for an aviator friend who needed a watch that could function on flights. At that time, pocket watches, the traditional timekeeping gadget, were not suitable for flight. The Santos was also the first wristwatch made for men. The Santos watch first went on sale in 1911. Now, Cartier--a word synonymous with fine timepieces---is one of the most counterfeited watches the world sees.

Check the price. If someone is selling you a so-called Cartier watch between £32 and £130, you're likely looking at an imposter. Most Cartier watches sell for between £1,950 and £8,450.

Note the serial number on the watch. Call a Cartier adviser at (877) 227-8431 to confirm the watch's authenticity.

Read the engravings on the watch carefully. People who have written about imposter watches claim to have seen misspellings like "Carter," "Lmited Edition" and "Made in Swiss." All Cartier watches are made in Switzerland. They are never manufactured in China.

Inspect the joints, engravings, moving parts and watch face. Joints and moving parts, like the hands and knobs, should never be wobbly or loosely fit. Parts will not be glued on. If the metal seems faded in some areas, it means that the watch is plated--an instant indication of a fake Cartier.

Open the watch. Cartier is engraved on the timepieces' interior mechanisms. But note that this, too, can be faked. Imposter watch manufacturers in China have become so sophisticated at creating counterfeit Cartiers that only very well trained people can tell the difference.


If a person is selling you an authentic Cartier watch, he should not have a problem if you write down the serial number on the watch to confirm its authenticity with Cartier. Use a credit card or Pay Pal when purchasing a Cartier from a dealer or an auction site like eBay. You won't be able to confirm the authenticity of your watch until you can actually see it. Inform the seller that you are going to have the watch inspected by an authorised Cartier dealer. By being in violation of copyrights and trademarks, selling a counterfeit watch is illegal (as is false advertising). You will be able get a refund from Pay Pal and cancel your credit card payment if you find your watch is not genuine. Buy a Cartier watch only from approved Cartier boutiques and dealers. You can see a list of stores that carry watches on


You can, in fact, have an authentic Cartier watch that does not have all of its original parts. These watches are still considered Cartier watches, but they sell for much less money.

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About the Author

Shannon Marks started her journalism career in 1994. She was a reporter at the "Beachcomber" in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and contributed to "Philadelphia Weekly." Marks also served as a research editor, reporter and contributing writer at lifestyle, travel and entertainment magazines in New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from Temple University.