Cartier Santos – The First Modern Men’s Wristwatch

Cartier, a prestigious name in the world of jewelry and watches, should be no stranger to everyone. Countless internationally famed celebrities and political figures have been spotted with a Cartier watch on important events. Yet sometimes overshadowed by its most renowned Cartier Tank watch, there is a slight chance that you may not be too familiar with another popular collection, the Cartier Santos

Originally born in 1904, the Santos de Cartier watch, that also named Cartier Santos, is considered as the first wristwatch for men in watchmaking history. With several updates and refinements, this fully developed line has again introduced a breathtaking piece earlier this year, a new Cartier Santos Blue model. This release has again brought Cartier Santos back to the chart of hottest watches in the market. Today let us check out more about its story and its models in this modern day. 

Brief History of Cartier Santos Watches

Initially produced in 1904, the Cartier Santos is already more than 110 years old. Its first watch was created by the brand’s founder Louis Cartier for his friend and also a dapper Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, so you can obviously understand their relationship right away from the names. 

Alberto Santos-Dumont was the first aviator to fly around the Eiffel Tower with a dirigible built by himself. In order to control the flying without taking a hand off to look at his pocket watch, Santos-Dumont came to Louis Cartier for a solution. The prototype of the Cartier Santos was then developed for Alberto Santos-Dumont, as one of the first men’s wristwatches.

The Cartier Santos was then named after the aviator and officially released to the mass market in 1911 with a similar style as the 1904 prototype. Undergoing several updates throughout the years, the Cartier Santos had then developed its most iconic timepiece in 1978, with the Cartier Santos Dumont model. 

cartier santos

In 1978, the newly onboard Marketing Manager of Cartier, Dominique Perrin took the inspiration of the first Santos Dumont watch and came up with the idea of launching a Cartier sports watch at a more affordable price. To appeal to the younger audiences while keeping the sense of Cartier’s luxury, Dominique Perrin’s team had come up with the model in steel and gold two-tone. On the stainless-steel case and bracelet structure, the bezel and the screws on the watch’s bracelet were made with gold. This new Cartier Santos Dumont watch was a daring piece and one of the pioneers in the market since the two-tone watches were still not common at that time. 

With such groundbreaking design, the look of this Cartier Santos watch was also revised to be more curved and smoother. It was relaunched as the Santos Galbée model and had become one of the most emblematic Cartier watches for many years. 

Cartier Santos Watches in the Modern Days

For years, even though it was dropped out of the catalog for a while, Cartier has never given up on this significant model and keeps on putting effort on its upgrade. Today, the Santos de Cartier watches are available in various versions with different case materials and bracelet styles to choose from. There must be a perfect timepiece that suits your collection. 

The Cartier Santos 100

Santos 100 watch W20106X8

In 2004, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the collection, the brand released the Cartier Santos 100 models. Incorporating a completely modern aesthetic, this new Santos 100 watch is the modern interpretation of the original timepiece, while retaining the beauty of its vintage touch with its leather strap just like the 1978 Santos Dumont models. 

The modified size and shape are beautifully presented and on the other time have ensured the comfortability of wearing it on the wrist. For some chronograph versions and skeletonised versions of thie model, they are fitted with the brand’s in-house mechanical movements which are considered some of the most notable movements of Cartier

The Cartier Santos 100 watch remained one of the hottest models of the collection over the years, so you would see just how contented the Cartier collectors were with this Cartier men watch.

Cartier Santos Galbée XL

Cartier Santos Galbée XL watch Image Source: Jomashop

To cater to the strong demand for larger watches, the Cartier Santos Galbée XL watch was introduced in 2005. Carrying the design of upgraded models Santos Galbée released after 1987, the Santos XL watch is well balanced and refined with a larger size in dimension of 32 x 45.5mm. This Cartier Santos XL is an automatic watch equipped with an improved ETA 049 movement. Besides, this version has made a visual improvement on the dial – the date display window is placed between the hour marker 4 and 5 o’clock. The date window does not occupy any hour marker such as the usual position at 3 o’clock or 6 o’clock. 

Santos de Cartier Midsize 2018

Image Source: watchesbysjx.com

Without any significant update for over ten years, the brand decided to give a grand revival for this well-respected model at SIHH 2018, just exactly forty years after the introduction of the iconic 1978 Santos Dumont model. The Santos de Cartier model is presented as the modern version of its classic Cartier Santos watch. 

Also, to address the needs of its female audiences, the Cartier Santos 2018 series offered medium size versions in dimensions of 35.1mm x 41.9mm. They come with options of full steel, all gold and two-tone cases. There are also much larger sizes at 39.8mm x 47.5mm for men who have thicker wrists. The larger model features a date window display at 6 o’clock position but the medium ones didn’t include a date display. 

Cartier Santos Blue 2022

Cartier Santos Blue watch WSSA0048

At the Watches and Wonders 2022 event in Geneva, Switzerland, the brand’s pillar collection released two new Santos de Cartier models with brand new features. Following the size of its large models, these watches are equipped with a case in dimensions of 39.8mm x 47.5mm, and 9.37mm in thickness. 

Both the silver dial version and the deep blue dial version feature an alluring deep blue bezel. On top of a fully well-polished profile, the patterned bezel is stunningly coated with blue PVD with horizontal grooves for a more eye-catching contrast. 

Within the collection both Cartier Santos Dumont and Santos de Cartier watches are amongst the most sought-after models of the brand’s catalog today. From the past as the first men’s wristwatch, to today being the brand’s pillar collection, a Cartier Santos watch is definitely an ideal pick that you can be proud of owning. 

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