The iconic tank is most likely the first timepiece to spring to mind when we think of Cartier watches, yet it is the Santos that is getting all the attention this year — and deservingly so. This watch, created in 1904, was the product of a collaboration between two visionaries and friends — Louis Cartier and aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont — and the very first men’s wristwatch. It was both elegant and practical: the inventive square shape with rounded angles of this pilot’s watch; its familiar eight screws on the bezel; its “functional hardware”; and very legible Cartier Roman numerals on the dial, all reflect the lifestyle and individual style of Santos-Dumont and the age of engineering.
Santos-Dumont designed and flew many flying machines, and his unique dress style and tools developed as a result of these passions. He favoured function over fashion, which reflected the aesthetic of his generation, with comfort an essential component of the new, modern lifestyle.
The new Santos de Cartier celebrates this era, but also reflects the innovative, dynamic spirit of our age. Its square shape remains unchanged, but the bezel has been updated to complement the newly engineered bracelet. Just as the leather strap defined the first wristwatch, the new Santos features two new innovations to suit our contemporary lifestyles. The QuickSwitch system allows for easy interchange between a choice of metal bracelets and numerous, colourful hide options. The SmartLink self-fitting technology also means that link-length adjustments to the bracelet can be effected without a tool.
The collection is available in stainless steel, stainless steel and yellow gold, pink gold, and yellow gold. It comes in two sizes: medium (35.1mm x 41.9mm) and large (39.8mm x 47.5mm). All pieces are powered by the 1847 MC automatic calibre, which is also impressively on show in the large skeletonised versions. The new in-house movement features anti-magnetic components and has a power reserve of 42 hours.
The elegant, all-steel version with its polished bezel on a brushed case and bracelet, is on trend, with practical sports-watch appeal. Dashes of blue add flair to the collection through the crown-set gems and the blued-steel, sword-shaped hands, and both steel or 18K rose-gold cases would also sit nicely on a blue-leather strap. The Santos is perfect for high-flyers, and it’s also good to know that its water resistant to 100m, should you have to take the plunge.
Cartier boutique, Sandton: 011-666-280; cartier.com