In 2018 Cartier released a totally refreshed version of the Santos which I (correctly) predicted would be a hit with consumers. According to Cartier, the new Santos was the top-selling men’s watch for the brand last year, and now the “new” Santos family has been given a new model for 2019 known as the Cartier Santos Chronograph. So far this is my favorite “affordable” new watch that debuted at SIHH 2019. Coming in three versions (references WGSA0017 in pink gold, W2SA0008 in two-tone, and WSSA0017 in steel) to start, the Cartier Santos Chronograph builds on the successful new Santos case design and platform and includes an in-house made chronograph movement… along with a fun mechanical twist that watch lovers will really enjoy.
Each of the new Santos Chronograph watches will come with two strap/bracelet options. One of the strap options for each of the watches will be a new black-colored rubber strap that has some metal screws inserted in it for style. What is really important for me to share about the new straps isn’t just that they are comfortable to wear on the wrist, but that Cartier has finally engineered a push-button deployant! Yes, it has been a long time coming and the new “C-style” (for Cartier) deployant no longer closes merely with tension—now having two comfortable pushers on the side used to release it.
The all pink gold and steel (with black aDLC-coated elements such as the bezel) models also come with a gray or black-colored alligator strap in addition to the rubber strap. The two-tone steel and 18k yellow gold Santos Chronograph comes with a steel bracelet (with gold screws) as well as the rubber strap. Don’t forget the innovative QuickSwitch strap release system as well as the SmartLink tool-less system to adjust the bracelet size. The former QuickSwitch system allows you to easily remove the strap or bracelet and replace it with another (assuming it has the right attachment system). Which means you’ll most likely need to buy it from Cartier. For more on the Santos bracelet system, see our previous coverage of the new Cartier Santos, as well as my full aBlogtoWatch review of the new for 2018 Cartier Santos watch here.
From a case size perspective, the Santos Chronograph is larger than the three-hand Santos models (of which there are two sizes). We see a return to the Santos XL style size, but a bit smaller than the former Santos XL, which was pretty big. The 2019 Cartier Santos Chronograph case is 43.3mm wide, 51.3mm long, and 12.5mm thick with 100m of water resistance. I really like this thicker and wider case size for a sportier look for the Santos that hearkens back to the previous generation Santos 100 case, which I still really like. The non-square (given the flanks on the top and bottom) bezel is growing on me a bit and happens to look really good in black with the matching black rubber strap.
Cartier uses a real synthetic sapphire crystal as the cabochon in the all 18k pink gold model and the other two pieces have blue spinel cabochons in the crowns. The cases are attractive and continue to be both well-made and well-finished. The most interesting technical element of the case is the chronograph pusher system. Rather than having the standard pusher above and below the crown, the Cartier Santos has just one visible pusher placed on the opposite side of the case as the crown. Some people have been calling the Santos Chronograph a monopusher but that would be incorrect. The watch actually has two pushers and the reset pusher is actually integrated into the crown. Thus, Cartier removed clutter on the case by having a single pusher on the right side of the case for the chronograph start/stop functionality, and the reset pusher is actually built into the crown itself. Operating it is rather cool and this is one of the most technically innovative parts of the new Santos overall.
Inside the watch is a Cartier-produced (they claim “100% produced in-house by Cartier”) caliber 1904-CH MC automatic. This is the same movement you may have seen on recent Cartier watches such as the Cartier Calibre Chronograph. The chronograph has a slightly smaller sub-dial for the subsidiary seconds and all the sub-dials are nicely recessed into the dial. The 1904-CH MC movement has a chronograph module over a base automatic and operates at 4Hz with 48 hours of power reserve.
Another attractive feature of the dial is the inner part of the face, which is done with a brushed steel tone. My most beloved dial element is the return of the sword-shaped hands in black filled in with lots of Super-LumiNova on them, as was the case with many previous generation Santos models. Recall that the 2018 Santos watches went for a dressier look and used thinner blue-colored steel hands. These sportier hands look more suited for a chronograph in my opinion—as the Santos Chronograph is a larger and clearly bolder watch whose legibility is enhanced with this type of sword-style hands.
Moving forward Cartier can evolve the Santos Chronograph to make it even more varied. I’d love to see an all steel option as well as an all aDLC-coated black version. Given that Cartier is heavily investing in the new Santos collection as their current premier men’s model, such future models are very likely. My choice for 2019 is either the two-tone steel and yellow gold model or the all-steel with aDLC-coated elements. The all-pink gold model is lovely and just fine, but of course, it is more expensive. With that said it is actually not poorly priced for an all-gold watch.
Cartier’s marketing focus for 2019 is mostly women’s products so it could be quite easy to miss this new men’s Santos Chronograph product. That would be a shame. Regardless of what Cartier wishes to push with their marketing dollars, men who like square-shaped watches and chronographs will not want to miss out on sampling this product. I fully intend to review one of the new Cartier Santos Chronograph models in the near future to dive deeper into this compelling new product for SIHH 2019. According to Cartier, the new Santos Chronograph models should be available starting in April 2019. The Cartier Santos Chronograph watches for 2019 are priced at €20,000 for the reference WGSA0017 all-18k pink gold model, €11,500 for the reference W2SA0008 two-tone steel and 18k yellow gold model, and €7,200 for the reference WSSA0017 all-steel model. See more or order at Cartier’s website.