|Year of production (circa)
29 x 41mm
Cartier Santos Galbee Ref.1564
The Cartier Santos originates from the Cartier Santos-Dumont, initially designed for Alberto Santos Dumont. Interestingly, it was conceived by a notable figure in the watch industry named Alain-Dominique Perrin, who served as Cartier’s CEO from 1975 to 1998. Under Alain-Dominique Perrin’s guidance, Cartier introduced this Santos in 1978.
Fast forward to 1987, the Santos underwent a comprehensive makeover, underwent a name change, and was relaunched as the Santos Galbée. The case shed its rough edges, adopting more curved and rounded lugs, enhancing its ergonomic fit on the wrist compared to its predecessor. The watch maintains its vintage charm in a used yet well-maintained condition. The cream-white dial, paired with the blue Roman numerals, blue hands a blue stone on the crown, creates a visually pleasing ensemble.
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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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