For the first time in a while, Cartier has introduced a new “petite complication” into its men’s watch collection with the 2024 Santos de Cartier Dual Time (Ref. WSSA0076). The brand was popular for doing many small complications just a few years ago when its men’s watches were segmented into high and “mainstream” luxury collections. “Grand complication” Cartier models were often over $100,000 and included entirely novel movements with fantastical operations and displays. This was when Carole Kasapi was heading movements at Cartier (she is currently at TAG Heuer). While Cartier mainly sold three-hand and chronograph timepieces, their mainstream collection was certainly not without fun little complications such as pieces with moonphase indicators or various types of calendars. For the most part, the last few years have seen Cartier focus on time-only watches with the occasional chronograph. That has, honestly, been fine for the brand, and Cartier has been enjoying success due to its general desirability and the overall good looks and quality of the watches. Now it seems that the itch for small complications is back as Cartier seeks to maintain strong demand for the current generation Santos.

Introduced at Watches & Wonders 2024, the Santos de Cartier Dual Time watch introduces a new module built on the brand’s in-house movement which adds a dual-time complication (as well as maintains the date window at the 3 o’clock position on the case). Dual-time and GMT watches are both intended for travelers but have an important difference even though they both have an indication of at least two time zones. GMT watches tend to have a 24-hour hand whereas dual-time watches tend to indicate both time zones in 12-hour format. Some dual-time watches including the Santos de Cartier Dual Time, have a handy feature to help you know if it is AM or PM time in the second time zone. On this watch AM/PM is indicated by a small window that moves from light (AM) to dark (PM) in color.

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This particular dual-time display has a single hand for the second time zone. That means the user reads the second time zone minutes on the main time’s minute hand. This reduces clutter and helps keep the watch more legible as some of the other dual-time watches out there with similar dials can have very difficult-to-read second time zone dials on account of their petite size. Even the Dual Time hand here is lumed, meaning that Cartier certainly intended for the wearer of a Santos de Cartier Dual Time to be easily able to use this feature.

Watchmakers are eager to find new complications that get enthusiasts and the mainstream excited. Truly novel movements and complications are really expensive and risky to engineer. That said, consumers tend to tire of seeing watches with the same sets of complications over and over again. At the same time, brands actually tire of just making time-only watches and yearn to create more complicated dials. Brands like Cartier always try to focus on practicality (well, for the most part, as another 2024 release in the Santos Dumont collection has the time running backward) and thus focusing on a Santos de Cartier Dual Time allows them to keep costs reasonable, offer some novelty, and hope that users will actually make use of this new feature. Ideally, they can convince existing new-generation Santos wearers to add one of these to their collection.

The Santos de Cartier Dual Time for 2024 is in steel with a matching Santos bracelet (famously easy to size and remove from the case without tools), and an anthracite gray face. This extremely sober-looking dial is remarkably fashionable as gray does go with an awful lot of other colors. This comes in the larger Santos case which is 40.2mm wide, 10.1mm thick, and has a 47.5mm long lug-to-lug distance (with 100 meters of water resistance). Over the dial is a sapphire crystal and blue spinel cabochon is put into the crown.

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Inside the watch isn’t an in-house made movement but that doesn’t really matter too much to me. Cartier doesn’t mention it is part of their “MC” caliber collection, which means this is a base Swiss Made movement with the dual time module. That makes sense as there is no reason to invest in a totally new movement or module when it comes to a new and frankly experimental version of the Santos. If something like this does really well then Cartier would have more incentive to put their own movement in it. For now, the brand is curious to see if Santos buyers find interest in the Santos de Cartier Dual Time over the three-hand model or the chronograph. Price for the Santos de Cartier Dual Time (Ref. WSSA0076) watch is $9,150 USD. Learn more at the Cartier website.

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