The Cartier Santos-Dumont holds special distinction as not just arguably the world’s first sports watch, but the first men’s wristwatch, as well, with an aviation-inspired legacy dating all the way back to 1904. With this in mind, the series has always held a special place in the luxury giant’s lineup and continues to command enthusiast interest to this day. As part of its Watches and Wonders 2022 novelties, Cartier returns to the Santos-Dumont line, creating a trio of unique two-tone designs that feature compelling lacquered cases. The three new models in the Cartier Santos-Dumont series offer a characteristically refined take on the modern colored-case trend, delivering striking new iterations of the classic line while allowing the beauty of the base metals to still shine through.
Dimensions: 43.5mm x 31.4mm
Water Resistance: Not stated
Case Material: 950 Platinum with burgundy lacquer/18k rose gold with beige lacquer/stainless steel with black lacquer
Movement: Piaget 430P-based 430 MC (hand-wound time-only)
Frequency: 21,600 bph
Power Reserve: 38 hours
Strap/Bracelet: Burgundy alligator leather (platinum case)/Moss green alligator leather (rose gold case)/Black alligator leather (stainless steel case)
Price & Availability: €16,000 (Platinum)/€12,000 (Rose gold)/€5,100 (Stainless steel), Platinum model limited to 150 pieces, Rose gold model limited to 250 pieces, on sale November 2022
The cases of these new Cartier Santos-Dumont models are, by far, the most intriguing new additions. Measuring in at 31.4mm-wide and only 7.3mm-thick with a lug-to-lug length of 43.5mm, these classic rounded square cases with their tapering lugs and screw-topped bezels are a Cartier hallmark, but the brand reinvents these 118-year-old forms in images with the use of rich, nuanced color. The 950 platinum-cased variant offers the most creative look of the group, with most of the case surfaces covered in deep burgundy lacquer. Rather than completely obscuring the platinum base, however, Cartier allows the polished chamfers and bezel screws to shine through this burgundy layer and throw the geometric nature of this case design into sharp relief. Cartier complements the deep red tones here by topping its traditional cabochon crown with a ruby.
The 18k rose gold case offers a far lower-contrast look in images, with a pale beige lacquer coating that blends in with the warm gold tones of the base metal handsomely in initial photos. Cartier fits this rose gold model with a deep blue sapphire cabochon crown, creating a sharply contrasting highlight amid the sea of soft, warm hues. Lastly, the stainless steel model offers the most striking and sporty look of the three, combining the stark sheen of polished steel with deep matte-black lacquer and a bright blue synthetic spinel cabochon crown. Although these lacquered designs offer an intriguing and bold look in initial images, the staying power of these finishes is currently an open question. Cartier makes no mention of a protective coating atop this lacquer, and while wear and tear on this finish may well provide dramatic patina in years to come, the worn look is likely to prove divisive among enthusiasts. Cartier does not provide a water resistance rating for these watches.
Cartier pairs the unique cases of these new Santos-Dumont models with classically attractive dials. Each model in the series shares the same basic layout, with stylized applied Roman numerals, simple polished sword hands, a traditional chemin de fer minutes track, and a clean no-date layout. It’s the dial finishes themselves that add character to this familiar formula, however, with a series of lacquered concentric squares that gives the dial a sense of immense visual depth in images.
Cartier matches the dial colorway of each model to its case, with the platinum model sporting a silver dial with bright polished hands and indices, alongside a minutes track and dial signature in dark wine red. The rose gold variant instead opts for a tone-on-tone approach, with a champagne main dial surface complemented by rose gold dial hardware and printed elements in simple black. Lastly, the stainless steel model keeps its monochrome colorway intact, with a charcoal gray main dial paired with silver-toned dial hardware and a matching minutes track.
Cartier powers the new Santos-Dumont iterations with the Piaget 430P-based 430 MC hand-wound movement. The 430 MC is a common choice among Cartier’s slimmer offerings, and while it usually provides attractive finishing, its performance is beginning to show its age with a subpar 38-hour power reserve at a 21,600 bph beat rate. Each of the new Cartier Santos-Dumont models is paired with an alligator leather strap.
For the burgundy-coated platinum model, Cartier opts for a strap in slightly deeper oxblood red, while the rose gold and beige model instead uses a contrasting strap in dark mossy green. The stainless steel model takes the most straightforward stylistic approach in images, matching its alligator leather strap to its black lacquered case.
By pairing its historic square sports watch design with intriguing new lacquered case finishes and elegantly textured dials, the new Cartier Santos-Dumont models offer a distinctively refined new take on an enduring classic. Although the new stainless steel model will be a regular production iteration, the 950 platinum and 18k rose gold variants will be limited to 150 and 250 units each, respectively. All three of the new Cartier Santos-Dumont models will be available through authorized dealers in November 2022. Pricing for these new models stands at €16,000 for platinum-cased models, €12,000 for rose gold, and €5,100 for stainless steel as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.