„I fly to escape the people and to be able to think“, once said the Brazilian inventor and aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont. This attitude nearly ended up deadly for him at the beginning of the 20th century, when he stroked the roof of a building with his airship and only managed to rescue himself in the very last minute. So life gave him many more years of thinking and inventing, which finally lead to the first zeppelin, the first helicopter as well as the first monoplane and biplane. And somehow also the Santos from Cartier.
Louis Cartier and Alberto Santos-Dumont met for the first time in 1900 and became close friends. In 1901 the Aviator complained about the difficulties to read a pocket watch during flights. Louis Cartier started to work meticulously on a solution. Three years later the first modern wristwatch with a leather strap was born. Of course Cartier named it after his friend “Santos”. Since 1904 the Santos is indispensable at Cartier and became a true icon as well as the Tank, which was developed little later. At the beginning of this year, Cartier has introduced a few new watches, which are named “Santos de Cartier”.
The novelties have kept their distinctive square case design. However, they have received some subtle refinements. The striking square bezel has received smooth edges and looks like it’s connected seamless onto the strap. Cartier wanted to create a unit between case and strap, which also has an affect on the wearing comfort. It snuggles really well around the wrist.
Cartier has done a lot of research on ergonomics in order to find the perfect size and weight for ideal wearing comfort. With their patented SmartLink-system you can adjust the length without any tool. Every slat owns a small pusher – once pressed, a tiny mounting clip ejects and you can easily remove or add a slat. The straps also have a QuickSwitch-system, a mechanism placed underneath to easily and quickly change the straps. You have a choice of Stainless Steel, Gold, Calf- or Alligator leather.
It is surprising that nowadays most people identify a Santos with a Stainless Steel strap, as it was originally the first wristwatch with a leather strap. It was not until 1978 when the Santos was first produced with this unique steel strap. The screws on it are an aesthetic continuance of the case. The square case was initially inspired by the Parisian geometry and represents in a wider sense the four pillars of the Eiffel tower. The eight screws on the bezel reflect the architecture from that time – the screwed steel pillars that were visible on many buildings.
The new watches are available in two sizes: 35.1mm and 39.8mm. They come in Stainless Steel, Bicolor with Stainless Steel and Yellow-Gold, full Yellow-Gold or Rosé-Gold and a variety of colours for the leather straps. Parts of the calibre 1847 MC have a Nickel-Phosphor-Alloy to protect them against magnetic fields. Also the inner part of the case has been covered with a paramagnetic alloy. It would be exciting to see which watch Alberto Santos-Dumont would wear today.