|Year of production (circa)
18k Yellow gold
26 mm x 28 mm
Cartier Santos Oval 18k
Cartier is known for its many variations upon a central theme: white dial, black Roman numerals, heat-blued sword hands and an elegant case shape. This particular example is a variation on the iconic Santos case shape. The Santos Oval.
This model is reminiscent of a brass porthole, as you would find on a beautiful wooden sail yacht. In fact, this watch would not look bad on such a yacht! As long as you keep it dry, of course.
Although there is plenty of beauty on the outside of this Santos Oval, there is a lot to be admired on the inside as well. Although it measures a mere four millimetres in height, including the caseback, the dial, the space for the hands and the crystal, there is still enough room for a manually wound mechanical movement. A rather impressive ultra-thin Frederic Piguet movement, to be precise.
For the connoisseurs: this is a Paris-signed Cartier. It comes on an original Must de Cartier strap with a gold-plated Cartier buckle. A very attractive package indeed.
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Amsterdam Pocket Watch Company. Or Amsterdam Women’s-only Watch Company. Two alternate realities that could have been, if it weren’t for Louis Cartier. Many of our brands can lay claim on important horological innovations, but Cartier is the one that started the wristwatch game for men with the Santos.
The Brazilian dandy Alberto Santos Dumont inquired with his friend Louis Cartier about a better solution for telling time while flying. His pocket watch was rather cumbersome in flight. Louis Cartier designed a flat, square watch for him in 1904: the Cartier Santos.
While, for a long time, watches were used for navigation, this was not yet the case for dear old Santos. His flight, the first to ever be caught on film, lasted for only 21 seconds. Not a lot of navigation required there! He was wearing the world’s first men’s wristwatch though.
The Santos went into large-scale production in 1911, fitted with a Jaeger caliber inside. The cases came in platinum or gold and the Santos came on the very first ever folding clasp, fitted to brown or black leather straps.
The 1970’s Quartz crisis and Audemars Piguet’s brilliant answer in the Royal Oak, triggered Cartier to morph the Santos into a modern sports watch. A steel version on an integrated steel bracelet was introduced in 1978, the Santos de Cartier. A more rounded, quartz powered Santos Galbée was launched in 1987. Multiple variations on the theme were launched since. If it is the classical look you are after, the Santos Dumont remains most faithful to the very first Santos from 1904.
While the Santos debuted as the tool-watch for men. It has aged into a classical, more dressy watch for men and women alike. As we are slowly but surely moving away from gender-specific watches, the Santos is a prime example of a watch for everyone. A design classic with a story that will surely captivate your audience, next time you have drinks with friends.
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