Cartier’s new North America President and CEO, Mercedes Abramo, recently took Haute Living on an exclusive tour of the brand’s even newer three-story Design District boutique.
The 7,500-square foot store is reminiscent of a Parisian “hotel particulier” in the 16th arrondissement and was designed by architect Bruno Moinard and built by Callison Architects. Filled with bronze cases, plush blush carpet and a sparkling, two-story chandelier, the store is almost as beautiful as the watch collection it houses, including the Trinity, Love, Juste un Clou, Panthère and Amulette, in addition to some historic pieces.
“We definitely saw that our business in Miami and our local clientèle had grown significantly, so we really needed the space to showcase everything,” explains Abramo.
Customers ascend a grand staircase with a French-style black iron railing to reach the second floor, where the brand’s leather goods, eyewear and iconic watches such as the Tank and Ballon Bleu are on display.
Abramo points to the Tank: “We introduced this one in 1917 and it was a real departure. People weren’t doing watches in this clean, simplistic style. See how the strap goes seamlessly into the legs of the watch? That was radical,” explains the CEO who joined Cartier in 2008 and ran its flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan before working her way up the ranks.
Cartier’s clientele is known for devout loyalty to the brand, with buyers going back to it again and again for their jewelry and watch purchases.
“We’re fortunate that are our pieces also tend to sell at auctions for very significant premium. We really want to transcend fashion, and create something that will stand the test of time,” said Abramo proudly.
One needs only look at the record-breaking items in the estates of Elizabeth Taylor and the Duchess of Windsor (including her 19.7-carat emerald engagement ring) to get the idea that Cartier pieces more than hold their value with or without historical context.
“Cartier stays very independent of fashion, we’re much more influenced by our own archival designs. Our designers want to make sure that what they make will be relevant 100 or even 200 years from now, which is a lot of pressure,” said Abramo.