A new Cartier exhibition celebrates the house's most enduring icons 

Mhairi Mann

26 July 2021

Stop by the Saatchi Gallery before 8 August for a new exhibition of Cartier’s most iconic creations, including the seminal Love bracelet and the Santos watch

26 July 2021 | Mhairi Mann

The Tank watch. The Love bracelet. The Trinity ring. You don’t need to be a watch or jewellery aficionado to recognise these monikers as distinctly Cartier.

A new photographic exhibition at Saatchi Gallery celebrates seven of the Maison's most recognisable icons, including the Santos, Ballon Bleu and Panthère de Cartier watches, as well as the Juste Un Clou bracelet – a nail that wraps elegantly around the wrist, designed by Aldo Cipullo in 1971 to capture the era’s rebellious spirit and unabashed glamour.

Andy Warhol photographed at his studio by Arnold Newman in February 1973. He is wearing a Tank wristwatch.

Cipullo also designed the seminal Love bracelet in 1969, now available in white, yellow or rose gold with or without diamonds. In 2016, it was the most Googled piece of jewellery in the world and remains a mainstay of modern bracelet stacks.

Coined Studio 7 and spread across four galleries, the exhibit begins with black and white photographs of pop culture icons including Andy Warhol, Tina Turner and Jean Cocteau wearing their favourite Cartier pieces. Of his Tank watch, Warhol famously said: “I don't wear a Tank watch to tell the time. Actually I never even wind it. I wear a Tank because it is the watch to wear.”

Yves Montand and Simone Signoret on the beach at La Baule in 1959. The French actor is wearing a Tank wristwatch.
Ramla Ali, photographed by Mary McCartney for Cartier

Designed by Louis Cartier in 1917, the sleek art deco shape was inspired by the Renault tanks used on the Western Front during World War One. Warhol’s Tank of choice featured a gold cabochon crown on a black alligator strap.

The exhibition delves into the Cartier archives, showcasing early sketches and models, including a 1916 Santos wristwatch. The square-cased style was originally designed in 1904 for aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, before later launching in 1978 as an instant bestseller. Most famously, it was worn by power dressing financier Gordon Gekko in the 1987 film Wall Street.

Jean Cocteau photographed by Luc Fournol in the early 1960s. He is wearing his Trinity rings.

These icons of yesteryear are shown alongside imagery of modern-day ambassadors, shot by British photographer Mary McCartney. These include actresses Emma Corrin and Venessa Kirby, boxer Ramla Ali and milliner Stephen Jones. Photos are projected on a floor-to-ceiling screen for a dramatically immersive experience.

The interactive exhibition also invites customers to have their portrait taken in a custom-built photographic studio, wearing their favourite Cartier pieces. These images are then shared in the final gallery space, accompanied by personal anecdotes – thus offering an intimate glimpse at Cartier’s audience in London.

Cartier has always been ahead of the curve in creating luxurious, modern pieces that can be worn every day. While designs have been subtly tinkered with over the years – the Juste Un Clou was redesigned in 2012, while the Panthère de Cartier was relaunched for women in 2017 – each one remains a lasting talisman, restyled by a new generation. This new exhibition is the perfect way to experience that first hand.

Read more: The 40-year hunt for the Marlborough diamond

Studio 7 is on display until 8 August 2021, Saatchi Gallery, Ground Floor, Duke of York's Square HQ, King's Road, London SW3 4RY
Monday – Sunday, 10:00am – 6:00pm, last entry: 5:30pm. Pre-booking required, studio7bycartier.co.uk