Claiming proudly to be the ‘first purpose-built watch’ and even the ‘first wristwatch made for a man’, the Santos de Cartier is a timepiece with a story worth telling. This definitive icon of horology returns to the spotlight in its 40th year.
Santos de Cartier
A Tale of Two Visionaries
French watchmaker Louis Cartier met the pioneering Brazilian aeronautical engineer and pilot Alberto Santos Dumont in Paris in 1900. The two began a friendship borne from a mutual admiration and interest in creativity and innovation.
In 1901, Alberto Santos Dumont asked Louis Cartier to design a watch that the pilot could wear, and on which he could check the time while keeping both hands on the controls of his aircraft during flight. 3 years later, in 1904, the very first Santos de Cartier, named for its patron was introduced and presented to Alberto Santos Dumont. A pre-cursor to the modern pilots’ watch, it allowed the aviator to tell the time without fumbling in his pocket to find his pocket watch.
The Santos de Cartier, as designed for Alberto Santos Dumont, with its squared case and visible screws, set on a leather strap first became available to the public in 1911, but it was not until 1978 that the watch became the iconic timepiece that is one of the pillars of the Cartier maison today.
In 1978, Cartier introduced a redesigned version of the Santos de Cartier, which was in keeping with the trends of the time and featured a metal bracelet that combined both gold and steel. The design of the original Santos case is true to the aesthetic of Cartier and is a quiet allusion to the bridges across the Seine and the monuments that spread around Paris.
The square bezel, with visible screws, railroad minute track, stylized numerals and a sapphire-set crown beautifully combine both function and form in a timeless manner that is still relevant and much-desired today.
Makeover of a Masterpiece
40 years after its launch in 1978, the Santos de Cartier was reintroduced this year at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in a number of thoroughly modern and exquisitely crafted avatars.
Presented in a medium and a large version measuring 35.1mm x 41.9mm and 39.8mm x 47.5mm respectively, the new 2018 Santos de Cartier is available in an all stainless steel, stainless steel and yellow gold, all yellow gold or all pink gold model. The large sized Santos de Cartier watches in stainless steel and pink gold are also available with a skeletonized dial.
The new watches feature the Santos’ signature squared case and bezel with 8 visible screws. The design of the bezel has been changed to cover the entire case, reaching up to where the strap or bracelet begins. This change gives a more fluid look to the Santos de Cartier, improves wearability on the wrist and adds to the overall stylish aesthetic of the timepiece.
The most significant design update for the Santos de Cartier relates to the strap or bracelet. Bearing in mind the history of this iconic watch, which was conceptualized as a way to place a timepiece on a person’s wrist, the prominence of this vital element is only fitting.
In 2018, keeping up with the rapidly changing fashion sense, and numerous roles taken on by most people, Cartier has introduced a new addition to the Santos de Cartier watch – an interchangeable strap or bracelet!
In a time when convenience is key, the maison has given customers the ultimate luxury, a watch that can change its entire look, literally with the touch of a button! Cartier’s QuickSwitch system (patent pending), is hidden under the case of the Santos, and allows the wearer to interchange the watch’s metal bracelet with a calf-skin or alligator leather strap.
In addition, the metal bracelets of the Santos de Cartier are fitted with a SmartLink self-fitting technology which allows individual links of the bracelet to be removed or re-added easily without the use of any tools.
All the non-skeletonised medium and large Santos de Cartier wristwatches are powered by Cartier’s in-house automatic movement 1847 MC while the two large skeletonized models are powered by the in-house manual 9611 MC movement.
The 1847 MC is made from anti-magnetic components using nickel phosphorus and features a shield made from a paramagnetic alloy which enables the Santos de Cartier to resist the effect of magnetic fields in everyday life including those cast by mobile phones and other devices.
The watch is also water resistant up to 100m and has been subjected to the most stringent tests of reliability, accuracy and quality control ensuring resistance to variations in position, temperature, humidity and other similar factors.
Classic timelessness is etched into the Cartier culture, and the Santos de Cartier is a shining example of the brand’s unparalleled commitment to excellence in form and function. A watch created over 100 years ago, is still as relevant today as it was in 1904, and in the manner of a true icon, has undergone only minimal changes in design and structure over the years. The Santos de Cartier is a timepiece to pass down through the generations, a genuine legacy of excellence.