Not too long ago, we covered the release of the Cartier Santos 100 Carbon and the Ballon Bleu De Cartier Carbon watches. Our interest was piqued by the idea that Cartier wanted to release these staples in ADLC, and now we have had a chance to spend some time with the Santos 100 Carbon. The result? Really, what you would expect. A classy, sleek, yet sportier alternative to the average Cartier that usually comes to mind. All in all, I am happy to see Cartier release pieces like this, so let’s take a moment for a refresher.

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Cartier originally released the Santos 100 in a black carbon finish in 2009. This variant was offered for a total of three years before vanishing into relative obscurity. It seemed as though its day had come and gone, relinquishing the blacked-out effort to the more common, stainless steel models. But, just this year, Cartier made the announcement that it would be releasing it again, albeit with an in-house movement and a redesigned bezel.

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The previous model featured a brushed titanium bezel, while this go-round brings everything together with a stainless steel bezel and the entire case in ADLC (amorphous diamond-like carbon). There are plenty of attributes that ADLC holds over a PVD coating, none of which are so loudly advertised as increased scratch resistance. Either way, this isn’t your average Cartier, and in this case, that is a very good thing.

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The Cartier Santos 100 Carbon is available in the larger Santos case, so it will measure 51.1mm x 41.3mm. I don’t think it’s a crazy stretch to assume someone looking for the blacked-out version would probably prefer the larger size. All the usual Cartier accoutrements are on board, including the faceted blue synthetic spinel that tops the crown. Underneath the sapphire crystal, however, a black dial has replaced the usually resplendent white and thus the piece continues its darker, nuanced undertones to bring the whole package together. Bold white Roman numerals fill the edges, and in case you were wondering, yes, even the screws on the bezel are ADLC coated as well.

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As I mentioned, one of the other changes Cartier made to this release was to include an in-house movement, which in this case is the 1847MC. This is a welcome upgrade, as the 2009 model that was driven by an ETA 2892 which Cartier modified and dubbed the Cartier Calibre 049. Cartier had been criticized for not integrating their own in-house movements into more collections, so it was a natural progression for the Santos 100 to receive the 1847MC. Beating at 4Hz, the movement offers a 42-hour power reserve and illustrates Cartier’s increased commitment to include their manufacture movement.

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So how does it all look? Pretty slick, in my opinion, but it’s obvious that some haters are going to have their gripes. One of the aspects I usually love about Cartier is the clean, white, legible dial. Taking a darker turn here does nothing to offset that legibility, and the Cartier Santos 100 Carbon maintains that classic Cartier vibe. While it’s a bit of an easy attempt at targeting a younger audience while playing nice with longtime fans of this style, I’ve got to say it works.

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The roots of this watch go all the way back to 1904 when Albert Santos Dumont requested a wrist watch that would allow him to tell the time while flying. There is some serious heritage here if in nothing other than the design itself. Sure, it is nice to see Cartier implement their in-house movement, but for a long time pieces like this have been about the design, not what powered it. We reviewed the Santos 100 with gold bezel here, if you’re interested in seeing what the more traditional model is all about.

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Another departure from the norm here is the soft, black calf-skin leather strap that serves to help present a sportier image. This piece would have looked out of place on Cartier’s typical straps so, again, this whole package is complete even up to the stainless steel ADLC buckles on the strap.

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While this isn’t your ordinary Cartier, it does need to be stated that the act of doing a watch in ADLC or a similar material will reach a saturation point, if it already hasn’t. That being said, it does represent a breath of fresh air into the collection that can still come off as swanky and allow you to enjoy that special design of the Cartier Santos 100. This piece could work for either someone who is just getting into the brand or especially for die-hard Cartier fanatics that want something unique for their collections and are open to a little change every now and then. The Cartier Santos 100 Carbon is priced at $7,600.

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