How To Tell if a Cartier Watch is Real

How to Know if Your Cartier Watch Is Real

Cartier is one of the foremost luxury watchmakers, with over 100 years of watchmaking history, and iconic creations such as the Cartier Tank, Cartier Santos, and Panthére de Cartier.

As with any luxury brand, forgeries are part of the game. The prestige of the Cartier brand and the value of their timepieces make them a prime target for counterfeiters. There is a risk when you’re not purchasing your Cartier watch from a reputable dealer.

There are ways to protect yourself from the counterfeit industry, however. Here are some factors to look at to ensure that your Cartier watch is the real deal and not another stylish forgery.

Always Buy the Seller

Your best defense against buying any fake watch is to get your timepiece from an established and reputable store. When you choose to buy from any other store aside from the authorized dealer, you are not only shopping for a watch, you also need to ensure that the source is trustworthy.

Cartier Tortue Watches
Cartier Tortue White Gold and Rose Gold Diamond Watches

Finding a reputable dealer will ensure that you only have genuine watches to choose from. A reputable dealer would have the following qualities:

– Solid and verifiable presence online, with lots of real reviews and customer testimonials.

– Affiliations with respected watch organizations, such as The International Watch & Jewelry Guild, or the American Watchmakers & Clockmakers Institute.

– Ability to provide a certificate of authenticity and warranties on the watch. These are standard practices among reputable watch dealers. This is their way of ensuring the buyer that they have inspected the product before listing; and can stand behind the quality of the products they are selling.

– They would also be open with you taking the watch to Cartier or to an authorized dealer for authentication, as it means they are confident in the authenticity of their timepiece.

If you are confident that you bought from a reputable dealer, but would still like to take an extra step, it is always best to have your Cartier watch authenticated at authorized dealers.

That said, there are elements that you can also look for yourself to avoid falling for the trap of fake Cartier watches. Let’s take a look at each one:

Cartier Tank Louis and Tank Solo Steel Watches
Cartier Tank Louis and Tank Solo Steel Watches

1. The weight of the watch

One of the most common ways to tell if a Cartier watch is real is by its weight. Cartier watches are crafted from the finest materials – so whether they are made from steel or from precious metals, they should have a solid feel to them.

The sapphire crystal glass over the dial is heavy enough on its own, tantamount to its ability to resist scratches and breakage, and protect the inner workings of your watch.

When it comes to luxury timepieces, quality carries more weight.

Cartier Santos Dumont Steel and Rose Gold Watches
Cartier Santos Dumont Steel and Rose Gold Watches

2. The case and screws

After checking the weight, it’s time to examine the case. If you’re checking for an authentic Cartier watch, then your case will be held together by screws – and not just any type of screw. Cartier watches use a flathead type of screw which should be uniform throughout the timepiece. One of the common mistakes that counterfeiters make is using Phillips screws, which has a criss-crossed line on top, versus the single line of a flathead screw.

Moreover, an authentic Cartier watch will not have a case that simply snaps on over the dial and movement. Cartier watches have flathead screws either on the front of the case holding it over the dials (as is the case with the Cartier Santos) and on the back over the movement (like on the Cartier Tank).


Cartier Tank Louis 18K Yellow Gold Brown Strap Mens Watch W1529756
Cartier Tank Louis 18K Yellow Gold Brown Strap Mens Watch W1529756

3. The case back and inscriptions

While there are great forgeries out there, one of the easiest places to look for signs that your Cartier watch might not be genuine is the case back. There are several inscriptions on the case back that give you certain details of the watch.

Look for these 5 things on the case back:

1. The 4-digit model number

2. The engraved Cartier logo

3. “water resistant”

4. “Swiss Made” declaration

5. Serial number. This usually has two letters and four to six digits.

These 5 things should always be engraved on the case back. Some models will have additional information like “automatic” describing the movement or “stainless steel” referencing the case material.

It’s not only about what is engraved either, but the quality of the engraving. A luxury timepiece will not have a slapdash, unclear engraving. The words will be very clear and on the deeper side. If you’re seeing very light letters and or a lack of conformity and sloppiness, you may have a forgery on your hands.

Cartier Rotonde Retrograde GMT Time Zone Rose Gold Mens Watch W1556240

Cartier Rotonde Retrograde GMT Time Zone Rose Gold Mens Watch W1556240

4. The dial

One of the greatest fine details on a Cartier watch is its dial, which counterfeiters find very hard to replicate.

The guilloché decoration in the form of the rippling pattern along the face of the dial, while beautiful, is also a sign of a true Cartier watch. Counterfeit Cartier watches are either missing this ornate rippling entirely or it’s uneven and messy. Cartier’s guilloché dials have a precise and repetitive circular wave-like pattern that is done perfectly.

Below the 6 o’clock marker on the dial you should find the words “Swiss Made”. The words are printed in a very small font near the bezel and are often forgotten even on the best forgeries.

Lastly, there’s the secret signature on the dial. Look at both the 7 and 10 o’clock markers. A genuine Cartier watch will have the word CARTIER in fine print but in all capital letters hidden within these two numbers. This too is a detail that is often missed on forged watches.

Cartier Tank Anglaise Rose Gold Diamond Ladies Watch WJTA0004
Cartier Tank Anglaise Rose Gold Diamond Ladies Watch WJTA0004

5. The signature blue details

This is one of the easiest ways to tell if a Cartier watch is real. Part of the signature design of Cartier watches are blue detailing which you’ll find on the hands and the crown.

On the most popular Cartier collections like Santos, Tank, Panthère, Ballon Bleu, and Ronde, you’ll find blue details on each model. The steel hands painted in brilliant sapphire blue make a statement against any dial and they’re hard to miss.

The other blue detail to look for is the sapphire cabochon stone of the same hue of deep blue on the crown. A quality piece will never have stone glued into place; it will always have the stone set into place. If the gem on the crown appears glued on, then you most likely are holding a forgery.

Cartier Ballon Bleu Chronograph Rose Gold Mens Watch W6920008

Cartier Ballon Bleu Chronograph Rose Gold Mens Watch W6920008

6. Serial Number

If you’re looking to buy a Cartier watch, one of the first things you should do is check its serial number. You can find this engraved on the case back of your new timepiece, and it will be unique to that specific piece. If there’s no serial number or if it doesn’t match up with what’s on the certificate of authenticity (COA), then it’s probably not authentic.

As mentioned above, this 8-digit code will be a unique combination of 2 letters and 4 to 6 numbers.

A COA comes with every Cartier watch sold by an authorized dealer, and if you’re looking to buy it pre-owned, go for a dealer who can provide it with every watch. It has information about where and when it was made, along with other details like diamonds used in its creation or materials used for certain components like straps or bracelets.

How can you tell if a Cartier watch is real?

It’s likely you’ve chosen to buy a Cartier watch for its excellent craftsmanship, and that should be apparent when you hold a Cartier timepiece.

If you’re worried about whether your purchase will be genuine, the only way to truly protect yourself is to buy your Cartier watch from a reputable dealer like SwissWatchExpo. Explore our vast selection of watches from Cartier and nearly 40 of the world’s best watch brands at
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