Cartier occupies a substantial space of Palexpo at Watches and Wonders every year, mirroring the significant launches of the brand. In 2023 the Maison released more than 80 novelties – in iconic lines such as the Tank or the Santos and many watchmaking-meets-fine-jewellery pieces.
In 1904 Alberto Santos-Dumont, a pilot friend (more precisely a Brazilian aviation pioneer and inventor) of Louis Cartier, complained about the reliability and comfort of using pocket watches during flight. This is why Santos, a flat wristwatch was born. It is considered the first ever wristwatch created for men and it quickly became very popular. (The very first wristwatches were designed for women. According to Breguet, the first wristwatch was made in 1810 for the Queen of Naples. Patek Philippe delivered a wristwatch in 1868 to Countess Koscowicz of Hungary – it was essentially a gold bangle with a diamond-set and ornamental carved centrepiece with an opening to a tiny watch.)
In the seventies Cartier presented a steel Santos with tiny gold screws on the bracelet – this became such a hit that the company had difficulties in keeping up with the orders. The steel and gold Santos was the most copied timepiece in the late 70’s. In 1987 the Santos received a facelift. The Santos Galbée had somewhat different proportions and more curved lines than its predecessor.
Commemorating the 100th anniversary of Santos de Cartier in 2004, the Santos 100, Santos-Dumont and Santos Demoiselle (the women’s version) were created. Five years later the Santos 100 received a skeleton model in palladium. Cartier revamped the Santos in two sizes in 2018: medium (35mm x 42mm and 8.83mm thick) and large (40mm x 47.5mm and 9.08mm thick) and also in small size with quartz-regulated movement in 2019.
Cartier Santos-Dumont Microrotor
In 2023, Cartier celebrated the Santos-Dumont watch and the aviation heritage with the latest skeleton 9629 MC automatic calibre, developed especially for this iconic shape. This new micro-rotor calibre took the Cartier Manufacture at La Chaux-de-Fonds almost two years to develop and comprises 212 components. It includes a miniaturised functional oscillating weight in the shape of a replica of the Demoiselle, a trailblazing plane designed by Alberto Santos-Dumont in 1907.
The new Cartier Santos-Dumont Microrotor has a 43.5 x 31.4mm case, available in rose gold and steel and in a limited edition in yellow gold and navy lacquer, the latter in only 150 individually numbered pieces. All have an interchangeable alligator leather straps – in semi-matte burgundy, grey and dark blue colour, respectively.
The Santos-Dumont line includes five new versions this year, in two sizes XL (46.5 mm x 34 mm) and Large (43.5 mm x 31.5 mm). The XL models are equipped with a 430 MC mechanical movement with manual winding.
The yellow gold XL watch has a guilloché-effect dial and Roman numerals made of blue dumortierite (it is an aluminium borosilicate mineral, Cartier opted for a blue crystal) and its crown is set with a blue sapphire cabochon. The platinum Santos-Dumont combines the cool-toned metal with red jasper Roman numerals and a ruby cabochon crown.
The deep-blue (seemingly almost black) guilloché dial boasts contrasting gold hands and golden Roman numerals on the yellow gold, large Santos-Dumont which has a high-autonomy quartz movement inside.
Photo credits: Loupiosity.com
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