Conquering the skies and lifting ones spirits while fighting the forces of gravity. Such was the daring legacy of famed aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont and there is no better way to commemorate his spirit of adventure than with the new Santos de Cartier collections.
Cartier wants to perpetuate the spirit, style and thirst for altitude held by men who change the world, just like Alberto Santos-Dumont.
Simplicity. Practicality. Innovation. These were the three major principles of Alberto Santos-Dumont, the aviation pioneer who ordered the first modern wristwatch from Louis Cartier in 1904. Its wrist-mounted position meant it could be consulted during flight.
Its pure design, square dial with intentionally visible screws, and ergonomic strap that encouraged free movement immediately revealed its forward-thinking nature.
It is the watch of a man who set his sights high, designed over 22 flying machines, presented countless patent applications and risked his life during every test flight. A man who donated part of his profits to charity and who invented a practical yet elegant wardrobe.
With an understated, pared-down and fitted to an alligator leather strap, the new Santos-Dumont watch remains true to the elegance of the original 1904 model.
Cased in gold, gold and steel or all steel, it features Roman numerals, visible screws, a beaded winding crown and blue cabochon, all elements which perpetuate the heritage of this major watchmaking classic.
Its unchanged square shape – reminiscent of the geometry popular in Paris at the time – promotes pure and symmetrical design to mirror the four sharp corners of the Eiffel Tower. By symbolising the design revolution of the early 1900s, it ran counter-current to contemporary codes, highlighting straight lines and breaking with the round cases of the period’s pocket watches.
Alberto Santos-Dumont wore protective glasses and a bespoke jacket which linked cables connected to the rudder of his plane. Comfort and ease of use dictated his very personal style without detracting from his elegant allure in the slightest.
The notion of practicality was therefore decisive in the history of the Santos-Dumont watch. In 2019, Cartier enhanced its ease of use by introducing a high-efficiency quartz movement with an autonomy of approximately six years – twice as long as traditional movements. To achieve this feat, the Cartier Manufacture reworked and resized the movement to reduce its energy consumption combining this with a new high-performance battery.
Santos De Cartier Chronograph Watch
Speed was one of Alberto Santos-Dumont’s principal challenges. How could he exceed it, how could he control it? He set record after record in aviation, the earliest of which dates from 1906 and concerns flying speed, covering a distance of 220 metres in 21 seconds.
Made to measure records, the new Cartier chronograph takes this heritage into the 21st century. Always attentive to elegance and ergonomics, Cartier gave it a single start/stop push button, visible at 9 o’clock, with the reset function being directly integrated into the crown. This lighter design naturally leads to lighter movements.
The piece is fitted with the 1904-CH MC Cartier Manufacture movement, which distils the chronograph’s ingenious guidance and coordination systems – column wheel, vertical clutch, and linear reset hammer – while demonstrating superb craftsmanship. Looking back, Cartier had filed the patent for the first folding buckle in 1909.
This year, Cartier has developed its design further still by enhancing its comfort, ease of use and security. Despite being fitted with push-piece fastening and unfastening, a lighter blade and a simple wristband change system, the clasp keeps all its signature aesthetics.
Like the Santos de Cartier collection as a whole, the bracelets and straps offer ultimate practicality. Available in steel, alligator leather or rubber, all versions can be interchanged thanks to the patented QuickSwitch system, the invisible mechanism which seamlessly blends into the architecture of the case. Meanwhile the metal bracelet can be adjusted to the nearest link thanks to its patented toolfree SmartLink size adjustment system.
Santos De Cartier Skeleton Noctambule Watch
Nighttime created a sky for Alberto Santos-Dumont to conquer. He envisaged using a floodlight to light his way during his test flights.
Cartier casts light on the night sky with the new Santos de Cartier Skeleton Noctambule. The bridges are coated with Super-LumiNova® pigments which, while invisible during the daytime, reproduce and radiate the stored light once night falls.