It may not follow the common formula, but the Cartier Santos-Dumont series is one of the very first purpose-built pilot watches. That name, and the legacy that goes with it, traces back to Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont, one of the very first men ever to fly in an airplane. For Watches & Wonders 2020, Cartier turns its focus on Alberto Santos-Dumont with three limited-edition models dedicated to his greatest flying machines — the Cartier Engraved Santos-Dumont Limited-Edition “Le Brésil,” Cartier Engraved Santos-Dumont Limited-Edition “La Baladeuse,” and Cartier Engraved Santos-Dumont Limited-Edition “no. 14 bis.”
Model: Cartier Engraved Santos-Dumont Limited-Edition “Le Brésil,” Cartier Engraved Santos-Dumont Limited-Edition “La Baladeuse,” Cartier Engraved Santos-Dumont Limited-Edition “no. 14 bis”
Dimensions: 43.5mm x 31.4 mm x 7.3mm (all three)
Case Material: platinum (“Le Brésil”), 18k yellow gold (“La Baladeuse”), stainless steel and 18K yellow gold two-tone (“no. 14 bis”)
Movement: manufacture 430 MC hand-wound two-hand movement
Frequency: 21,600 bph
Power Reserve: 38 hours
Strap/Bracelet: gray alligator leather strap (“Le Brésil” and “no. 14 bis”), olive green alligator leather strap (“La Baladeuse”)
Price & Availability: $18,700 (“Le Brésil”), $14,300 (“La Baladeuse”), $7,250 (“no. 14 bis”), available April 25, 2020
Each of the three new models begins with the iconic shape of the 43.5mm large Santos-Dumont case, and while the square form with its distinctive bezel remains unchanged, each of the three new models interprets it in a different material. “Le Brésil” is the most luxe of the group, opting for an all-platinum treatment topped with a ruby cabochon crown and a commemorative engraving of Santos-Dumont’s simple and elegant airship of the same name from 1898. “La Baladeuse” takes the classic Cartier 18k yellow gold approach, accented with a sapphire-topped crown. Around back, as the name suggests, is an engraving of the small, motorized “La Baladeuse” airship used by Santos-Dumont to fly around the city of Paris. Of the three, this combination feels the most classically Cartier, if a bit risk-averse. Lastly, the “no. 14 bis” offers a handsome two-tone stainless steel and 18k yellow gold approach, finished with a blue spinel crown. The engraving here is of the no. 14 bis airplane, one of Santos-Dumont’s first award-winning craft, an airplane that first flew in 1906. The dials of these three models follow a similar pattern, with “Le Brésil” going for a gleaming silver sunburst with polished applied numerals and gray sword hands, “La Baladeuse” remaining old-school Cartier with a champagne sunburst dial (along with black printed numerals and blued hands), and the “no. 14 bis” taking a more modern masculine approach with a charcoal gray sunburst dial contrasting dramatically with gold hands. All three are powered by the in house 430 MC hand-wound movement, providing 38 hours of power reserve. The alligator leather straps are, for the most part, very traditional Cartier fare, with both “Le Brésil” and the “no. 14 bis” opting for clean gray, but the otherwise conservative “La Baladeuse” takes a left-field pairing with an earthy olive green tone strap.
Cartier has made a reputation as a brand of preserving iconic forms, and this new engraved Santos-Dumont trilogy is an excellent example of this. While all three take the Santos-Dumont aesthetic in different directions, there’s nothing here that feels out of place or extreme. All three are available now through authorized retailers, with the Cartier Engraved Santos-Dumont Limited Edition “Le Brésil” priced at $18,700; the Cartier Engraved Santos-Dumont Limited Edition “La Baladeuse” coming in at $14,300; and the Cartier Engraved Santos-Dumont Limited Edition “no. 14 bis” with an MSRP of $7,250. The three models are limited in production, with “Le Bresil” restricted to 100 units, “La Baladeuse” to 300 examples, and the “no. 14 bis” to 500 watches worldwide. For more information, please visit Cartier’s website.