Cartier’s Santos Collection Is A Testament To Timeless Mastery

If I could turn back time...

Cartier’s Santos Collection Is A Testament To Timeless Mastery

Image: Cartier

The following article was produced in partnership with Cartier.

Few watch brands can boast the same global appeal as Cartier. The French luxury Maison, famed the world over for intricate and technical pieces that wouldn’t look out of place hanging in the Louvre, consistently set the benchmark for what a luxury watch can (and should) be.

This week at the 2024 edition of Watches & Wonders in Switzerland, the Parisian jewellers have launched novelties across their iconic collections; from the Santos de Cartier to the Privé Tortue, Cartier have certainly been busy. With the notion of time on everyone’s lips in Geneva this week, there aren’t many watchmakers that can say they’re looking at time, in quite the same way.

Santos de Cartier

The famed Santos de Cartier collection; the French Maison’s classic offering to the luxury sports watch genre has the rather elite title of being the first wristwatch in history to be designed specifically for men.

Of course, the concept of wristwatches predates the Santos de Cartier by several decades, but the Cartier Santos, with its robust and overtly masculine contours, can argue it became the first watch that blokes actually wanted to wear.

Fast forward some 120 years, and this is still as same as it was in the early 1900s, but Cartier have still managed to double down on this legendary iteration with some revolutionary new features.

Available in two distinct configurations, Cartier released both a medium-sized Santos and a slightly larger model for 2024. The two larger models feature either a chocolate brown dial with a sunray brush finish or a satin-finish anthracite dial, enveloped by a luxurious-looking yellow gold and steel case. The medium-sized Santos is only available in brown.

It certainly boasts a clean and innovative new look for a watch that’s so steeped in horological history; a distinguished nod to past iterations, with a satisfying look to the watches of today.

Under the hood, the Santos de Cartier boasts the Maison’s renowned in-house automatic movement, the 1847 MC Calibre; and whilst it may not have additional complications such as a chronograph or GMT functions, it serves as a dependable workhorse movement for a premium dress watch.

Santos de Cartier Dual Time

One of Cartier’s classic pilot watches, the Santos de Cartier has enjoyed an aviation refresher course ahead of this year’s Watches & Wonders… and has returned to the fray sporting a pretty cool new feature.

First introduced in 2018, the Santos is a contemporary reinterpretation of the iconic Santos de Cartier timepiece. It was originally created by Louis Cartier during the turn of the last century for his friend, the Brazilian pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont.

Whilst it has been given a modern facelift, many of the classic features from the 1904 original still remain: the iconic Cartier square face, an integrated stainless steel bracelet, Roman numeral hour markers, and sword-shaped hands.

Today’s release shows the brand taking a step into improving the technical features, however, introducing, for the first time, a dual-time function via a contrasting subdial at the 6, able to accurately read the time simultaneously, at a fleeting glance.

Presented in a 40.2mm diameter, the iconic square case is softened by modern rounded corners to give a sporty look to the signature Santos collection. On the dial, moody sun-brushed anthracite complements the shine of the polished steel bezel and bracelet, whilst illuminated hour and minute hands introduce an attractive visual contrast to the overall aesthetic.

Santos-Dumont Rewind

At first glance, the Santos-Dumont Rewind is a visually striking piece that represents something of a departure from what watch enthusiasts have come to expect from the luxury French Maison. On closer inspection, the vibrant carnelian dial isn’t the only thing that got Watches & Wonders talking this year.

Limited to 200 pieces, Cartier Santos-Dumont Rewind is truly a novelty piece, because, well, for the first time, it runs backwards. The dial, much like the manual-winding 230 MC Calibre, has been inverted; the hours and minutes run anti-clockwise. It’s an addictive spectacle…albeit disorienting at first.

It’s a playful side to the brand rarely seen, but shows a unique originality and inventiveness from a brand at the peak of their powers.