Headline / July 2019

Carrying the Spirit of Pioneering

Simplicity, practicality, and innovation were the three major principles of Alberto Santos-Dumont, the aviation pioneer who ordered the first modern wristwatch from Louis Cartier in 1904. The wrist-mounted position meant it could be consulted during flight. Its pure design, square dial with intentionally visible screws, and ergonomic strap that encouraged free movement immediately revealed its forward-thinking nature.

The new Santos-Dumont watch remains true to the elegance of the original 1904 model, the current piece comes understated, pared-down and fitted to an alligator leather strap. The chronograph is encased in gold, gold and steel or all steel, featuring Roman numerals, visible screws, a beaded winding crown and blue cabochon, all elements which perpetuate the heritage of this major classic. The classic square shape of the piece remains unchanged, reminiscent of the geometry popular in Paris at the time, promotes pure and symmetrical design to mirror the four sharp corners of the Eiffel Tower. By symbolizing the design revolution of the early 1900s, it ran counter-current to contemporary codes, highlighting straight lines and breaking with the round cases of the period’s pocket watches.

The notion of practicality was therefore decisive in the history of the Santos-Dumont watch. In 2019, Cartier enhanced its ease of use by introducing a high-efficiency quartz movement with an autonomy of approximately six years – twice as long as traditional movements. To achieve this feat, the Cartier Manufacture reworked and re-sized the movement to reduce its energy consumption combining this with a new high-performance battery.

Highlighting the new collection is the Santos de Cartier Chronograph, and Santos de Cartier Skeleton Noctambule. Santos de Cartier Chronograph is designed to measure records, as the new Cartier chronograph takes this heritage into the 21st century. Always attentive to elegance and ergonomics, Cartier gave it a single start/stop push button, visible at 9 o’clock, with the reset function being directly integrated into the crown. This lighter design naturally leads to lighter movements. The piece is fitted with the 1904-CH Cartier Manufacture movement, which distils the chronograph’s ingenious guidance and coordination systems: column wheel, vertical clutch, and linear reset hammer.

Meanwhile, the Santos de Cartier Skeleton Noctambule is Cartier’s way to cast a light on the night sky. The bridges are coated with Super-LumiNova pigments which, while invisible during the daytime, reproduce and radiate the stored light once night falls.