Despite their utilitarian roots, Cartier Santos watches became fashionable and stylish accessories. They were worn by playboys, potentates and royalty.
Its rugged square design was smoothed out, becoming more curved and elegant. This curved shape is now the signature of the watch. The lugs also have more curves, giving the watch a fluid look that seamlessly flows into the bracelet.
The first Cartier Santos watch was created in 1904, commissioned by Louis Cartier to be worn on the wrist of his pioneering aviator friend Alberto Santos-Dumont. The Brazilian pilot was known as much for his dandy sense of style as his experimental aircraft, and he needed a watch that he could glance at without having to take his hands off the controls.
The angular design of the Santos was revolutionary at the time, and it remains one of the most iconic watches ever designed. The watch features a stainless steel bracelet with straight links that are slightly domed and polished to add a softness to the angular lines. The bracelet is further distinguished by its brushed finish and gold screws found on each link, which are a defining characteristic of the Cartier brand. The screw motif also reflects the aviation theme of the watch, as it was meant to reflect the rivets on a vintage airplane.
In the 1970s, Cartier Santos watches exploded in popularity among the global elite, and they were often seen on the arms of playboys and potentates alike. The sleek, angular design of the watch was a perfect complement to the sophisticated and well-bred lifestyle of this new breed of luxury sportswear. The Santos was a rival to the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Audemar Piguet Royal Oak for ubiquity on the wrists of the world’s jet set.
Over the years, the Cartier Santos was tweaked slightly to make it more fashionable, and the brand gave it a major overhaul in 1978. Gerald Genta was largely responsible for this change, as the new Santos featured many of the elements he was famous for designing.
The new model was also curved rather than square, which added a sense of elegance and comfort to the design. It was also lighter and more ergonomic to wear, and it made the watch more recognizable on the wrist. The new design stayed in production until 2005, when it was replaced by the modern Cartier Santos 100.
The latest Cartier Santos is still a great example of the classic and elegant lineage of this iconic watch. The watch is available in a wide variety of colors and sizes, including two-tone styles that feature a gold case against a stainless steel bracelet with the screw motif. It also comes in models with three hands and chronographs, as well as skeletonized versions. The new model is powered by an in-house movement, and it can even withstand magnetic fields up to 1,200 Gauss.
The Cartier Santos has become a symbol of watchmaking, thanks to its unique square case and signature exposed screws. Louis Cartier wanted to challenge the norms of the day and found inspiration for this design in the symmetrical architecture of Paris. This ethos continues to influence the watch’s iconic style. Today, the brand still finds a modern twist in its designs, while also maintaining a traditional feel.
The latest iteration of the Santos de Cartier was released in 2018, and boasts more curves than previous models. This curved shape, known as Galbee, helps the watch hug the wrist more closely and feels softer on the skin than the more right angles of the earlier models. It also improves the watch’s comfort and fit for a wide range of wearers, making it more accessible to men who might not find the original model’s shape comfortable or appropriate.
In addition to the curved lugs, the new Santos also features shorter crown guards that more seamlessly blend into the case. The dial is clean and minimalist with polished sword-shaped hands that enhance legibility. The Cartier Santos is powered by an automatic movement that delivers two days of power reserve. It is water-resistant to 100 meters and is anti-magnetic.
Cartier also added a variety of upgrades to the bracelet to make it more functional. It now features QuickSwitch and SmartLink, which allow the wearer to change straps easily and quickly, as well as adjust the bracelet size without visiting a Cartier boutique. This is a major improvement and demonstrates the company’s commitment to keeping the design of this iconic watch up-to-date.
The Cartier Santos is one of the most distinctive watches in history, and its legacy lives on to this day. The brand celebrated the iconic timepiece’s centennial with a star-studded event at Manhattan’s Armory building. Guests were entertained with displays of vintage aircraft and the brand’s iconic jewelry, while enjoying a black-tie dinner and dance party helmed by renowned DJ Jean Castel. The highlight of the evening, however, was a special performance by Paris’ hottest DJ, who performed from the gondola of a hot air balloon suspended above the crowd.
Association with Aviation
The Cartier Santos was the first wristwatch designed for men, and it soon became associated with the daredevils of the early aviation era. These men, often exposed to the elements high in the air as they piloted experimental contraptions filled with explosive hydrogen, needed a timepiece that would leave their hands free to control the planes. Cartier responded with a new model that was both practical and elegant.
The modern Santos is available in a variety of gold and stainless steel bracelet options, and you can even find it with a chronograph or skeletonized version. The designers have also managed to retain some of the world-famous Cartier elegance while making the case and bezel slimmer. They have done this by adding a polished layer on top of the brushed surface.
Like its predecessor, the 2018 Santos is powered by an in-house movement. The most significant change, though, was the addition of two different sizes to the collection. Cartier’s International Marketing and Communications Director Arnaud Carrez, who was the mastermind behind the reintroduction of the Santos, explained to me last year that this was a very deliberate decision. The different size models are meant to make a statement and attract men with a bold and fearless attitude toward life.
In a watch industry that is often dominated by “luxury sport” watches – defined as high-end pieces made in stainless steel – the Santos stands out as a refined and timeless classic. As such, it is easy to see why the modern Santos continues to appeal to a broad segment of the luxury market.
The fact that Cartier is committing to maintaining and expanding the Santos line, with waitlists for some of its recent releases and strong performance on the secondary markets, makes it all the more compelling. It’s almost as if they have realized that the Santos fills a niche in the watch world that has not been properly addressed. And that it is a piece that will continue to be relevant for decades to come.
Since its debut, the Cartier Santos has remained a true symbol of elegance. This is thanks to its sleek design and impeccable quality. The Cartier Santos is a perfect choice for a man who wants to add a classic and sophisticated look to his wardrobe. The watch is also very versatile, as it can be worn with a variety of different outfits. The Cartier Santos is available in a wide variety of cases and bracelet styles, making it easy to find the perfect match for your style.
Cartier re-introduced the Santos in 2018 and continues to expand the line. The latest models eschew the rugged, square case of previous versions in favor of a more curved shape. This new shape, known as Galbee, hugs the wrist more closely and makes the watch more comfortable to wear. It also gives the watch a slightly more modern appearance.
The 2019 Cartier Santos models also offer a range of dial options. The traditional silver stamped-guilloche cadran pairs with black Roman numerals and solid blue broadsword hands, while a second model offers a gradient metallic blue fade with luminescent hands and dial. Finally, a skeleton dial is also available. While it is not as intricate as the aforementioned dials, it still adds an element of intrigue to the watch.
Another cool feature of the current Santos is that each comes with both a steel bracelet and a leather strap. The bracelets have a smartlink system that lets you remove and swap links easily. The leather straps use Cartier’s QuickSwitch lug triggers, which make it easy to change from one strap to the other in less than 15 seconds.
As far as the price goes, a standard Santos is relatively affordable. However, if you want to go all-out on your new Cartier Santos, you can expect to spend more than $40,000. If you’re looking for a true luxury watch, the Cartier Santos is definitely worth considering.