Cartier Invented The Watch With The Santos de Cartier – & It’s Still The Best

The following article was produced in partnership with Cartier.

Cartier – it’s a name that’s known across the globe. Founded in Paris in 1847, Cartier has long been regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious luxury brands.

Of course, most people know Cartier for its jewellery, but Cartier is also one of the world’s most in-demand and influential watchmakers. Indeed, it’s Cartier that can claim perhaps the most impressive boast in all of watchmaking: they literally invented the wristwatch.

Let’s paint the picture. It’s 1901 in Paris: a dynamic, exciting time, where innovators like Gustave Eiffel and Jules Verne rubbed shoulders. Another innovator who called Paris home, the enterprising Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, complained to his friend Louis Cartier that he found it hard to check the time on his pocket watch while flying.

Louis (who would also go on to invent another of Cartier’s most iconic watches, the Tank) was inspired by his friend’s predicament, and three years later, created the first-ever purpose-designed modern wristwatch – for Santos-Dumont. Naturally, the watch came to be known by its first legendary wearer and has since gone on to become a legend in its own right.

118 years later, the Santos de Cartier remains one of the most stylish watches for men on the planet. Versatile, elegant and innovative, it’s just like Santos-Dumont himself – and in 2022, it’s never been better.

The Santos de Cartier is perfect for high-flying thrill-seekers and keyboard warriors alike. Image: DMARGE

Alberto Santos-Dumont might be best known for his role in the development of aviation, but he was also known for his unique approach to fashion. When it came to the way he dressed, he was both utilitarian and dapper: he’d sew loops and hooks into his suits for parachute rigging, but he’d never be seen without his Panama hat. He was a daredevil, yes, but a dandy too.

The Santos de Cartier also has this dual nature. Many of its design features are industrial and minimalistic – take the exposed screws on its bezel and bracelet, or its unusual square shape. At the same time, it’s exceedingly elegant in the finest Cartier tradition: sharp Roman numerals, elegant hands, that classic spinel on the crown… It’s both very dressy and very sporty, making it the perfect watch for all occasions.

Adding to its versatility is its new Cartier QuickSwitch system. This invisible mechanism blends into the structure of the case and makes it a cinch to swap straps – say from a classic leather strap to a more casual integrated bracelet.

Speaking of integrated bracelets, they boast Cartier’s SmartLink system, which lets you adjust the length of the bracelet to the nearest link without the use of a tool. It might be nice to visit a Cartier boutique but being able to do such a thing on the fly is pretty useful. It’d get action man Santos-Dumont’s tick of approval, that’s for sure.

It’s quick and easy to change the Santos de Cartier’s strap thanks to the QuickSwitch system. Image: DMARGE
The Santos de Cartier’s bracelet with its exposed screws is one of the most iconic in the watch industry. Image: DMARGE

Santos-Dumont’s watch might have been a manual-wound proposition but the 2022 Santos de Cartier is powered by the in-house caliber 1847 MC, which features anti-magnetic nickel phosphorus components as well as a shield made from a paramagnetic alloy, rendering the movement effectively resistant to magnetic fields – a challenge even modern watch wearers struggle with. It’s also water-resistant to 100m despite its minimal case thickness, adding to its sporty bona fides.

The purity of the Santos de Cartier’s design makes it perfectly suited to host a wide variety of complications and case materials – and Cartier doesn’t disappoint in this department. While it’s hard to beat the classic stainless steel, the Santos de Cartier also looks amazing in yellow gold, pink gold and two-tone steel and gold.

New for 2022 are two-tone steel and blue PVD variants with unique grooved bezels that look particularly sporty and demonstrate how even 118 years on, the inimitable Santos de Cartier’s still got plenty of tricks up its proverbial sleeve.

LR: the new Cartier Santos de Cartier in blue PVD with a blue dial (ref. CRWSSA0048) and with a silver dial (ref. CRWSSA0047). Image: DMARGE

All in all, the Cartier Santos de Cartier is a legend for a reason. It’s truly remarkable how relevant and exciting the world’s first-ever wristwatch continues to be – there’s a reason it continues to captivate watch fans, innovators, style icons and high-flyers all these years later.

The only question is this: do you want to add your adventures to the pages of its legend? You know what Alberto Santos-Dumont would say…

Discover the Cartier Santos de Cartier collection at Cartier’s online boutique here.

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