Cartier Designs That Resist The Vagaries of Time
Rose gold Tank Louis Cartier watch (large). Coat, Louis Vuitton. Shirt, AMI. (Photo: Tina Tyrell)

What makes a piece of jewellery iconic? It goes without saying that it must be beautiful, groundbreaking and inspirational. But above all else, an iconic piece is timeless, discovered afresh and given new relevance by each successive generation. 

Ahead, our chosen models—young, diverse, cool—wear the new-season looks, accessorised with a selection of Cartier’s most celebrated pieces: the Tank, Ballon Bleu, Panthère and Santos de Cartier watches, the Love and Juste un Clou bracelets, and the Trinity ring. The aesthetic is effortless and edgy; who would believe that several of the designs were first created more than a century ago? 

Related article: 12 Things You Didn’t Know About The Cartier Tank Watch

Cartier Designs That Resist The Vagaries of Time
From top: White gold, rose gold and yellow gold Trinity de Cartier ring; steel Ballon Bleu de Cartier watch; gold Cartier Love bracelet. Top, Proenza Schouler. (Photo: Tina Tyrell)

Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s Director of Image, Style and Heritage, says the secret of the pieces’ eternal appeal lies in their essential simplicity. “It’s easy for the eye to catch, but simplicity is probably the most difficult thing to achieve in a design,” he adds. 

The Santos de Cartier watch is a case in point. The first modern wristwatch, it was created in 1904 by Louis Cartier for his friend Alberto Santos-Dumont, the pioneering Brazilian aviator, as a practical solution to the problem of having to look at a pocket watch mid-flight. 

Related article: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Cartier Love Bracelet

Cartier Designs That Resist The Vagaries of Time
Steel Santos de Cartier watch (large). Top; trousers, Prada. (Photo: Tina Tyrell)

Although it has been endlessly refashioned in different materials and with new straps, its geometric dial makes it instantly recognisable. 

The Tank, too, was conceived more than a century ago, and named after the armoured vehicles that rumbled across the battlefields of World War I, but the sleek linearity of its design has ensured a cult following ever since—its aficionados have included Yves Saint Laurent, Andy Warhol, Jackie Kennedy and Diana, Princess of Wales, all style icons in their own right. 

Related article: Cartier Unveils New High Jewellery Collection Inspired By Nature

Cartier Designs That Resist The Vagaries of Time
Gold Cartier Juste un Clou bracelets. Dress, Gabriela Hearst. Shirt, Dior. (Photo: Tina Tyrell)

And the Trinity ring, first sold in 1924, appeals to modern lovers by marrying purity of line with emotional significance. The three rings in different shades of gold symbolise friendship, love and fidelity, and are linked in such a way that they roll smoothly over one another, to give the wearer sensual as well as visual pleasure. 

A different take on love was introduced by Aldo Cipullo in 1969. Adorned with screws and designed to be secured around the wrist with a screwdriver, the Love bracelet became a visual shorthand for lasting commitment, perfectly adapted to our Instagram age. 

Cartier Designs That Resist The Vagaries of Time
Gold Panthère de Cartier watch (small). Jacket; skirt, Chanel. (Photo: Tina Tyrell)

“Love is a design that clearly expresses the idea of permanent attachment to someone else,” says Rainero. “The fact that a piece of jewellery is adopted by new generations shows the relevance and the power of the design.” 

Two years later, Cipullo created Juste un Clou, a nail reimagined as a precious jewel to wrap around a wrist. When Cartier reintroduced the design in 2012, it took off, beloved for its wit (what practical use does a bent nail serve?) and its industrial elegance. Though Rainero fears that “it may be too soon to call it an icon”, Juste un Clou fulfils all the criteria. It is unmistakable, intimate, easy to wear, and appeals to people of all ages, races, cultures and genders. For as Rainero points out: “Everybody is equal in front of a beautiful object.” 

All watches and jewellery worn throughout the shoot are by Cartier.

Photographed by Tina Tyrell
Creative direction by Jen Brill
Styled by Elissa Santisi 
Models: Amira Pinheiro/Elite; Ash Foo/New York Model Management;
Mia Brown/Next; Ophelie Guillermand/Elite; Sasha Knysh/Muse
Makeup: Raisa Flowers
Hair: Tina Outen using Bumble and bumble
Manicure: Megumi Yamamoto/Susan Price NYC
Casting: David Chen
Casting Production: William Galusha
Retouching: Abby Harrison