One of the most iconic watches by Cartier, the Santos needs no introduction. The origins of the Santos dates back to 1904 when Cartier first designed the watch to accompany aviator Santos Dumont on his intrepid flights. With an aviation history, Santos bears the pedigree of a Pilot’s watch and is one of the earliest tool purpose wristwatches in history.
At the end of the 1970s, the Santos was relaunched as a bracelet luxury sports timepiece, iconic for its large number of screws used on both the bezel and the bracelet. The watch saw regular updates and was in production until 2016, when it was discontinued.
Santos de Cartier in steel and ADLC
The case and dial
The overall case design remains close to the original with a squared case shape, ADLC bezel with eight screws and the same straight links steel bracelet with two screws per link. A slate grey dial with Roman numerals is brush finished in the center, surrounded by a minutes railroad track.
The sporty design is matched with lume filled hands and a discrete date window at 6.
The crown is set with a faceted black synthetic spinel that matches the bezel and gray dial. Accompanying the 39.8 mm (width) by 9.38 mm (thickness) watch is 2 bracelet options. Using the “SmartLink” adjustment system, a quick change can be easily made from the original steel bracelet to a secondary rubber strap with deployant buckle. The watch is water-resistant up to 10 bar.
Inside the Cartier Santos is the calibre 1847 MC, an entry-level, in-house produced automatic movement. The watch beats at 4Hz with a modest 42h of power reserve.
Overall, we found the Santos large model to be sporty and elegant. It is priced competitively at US$7450 before tax. The case is relatively thin while maintaining a respectable 100m water resistance. Considering the price range, its main competition will be with Rolex Datejust, Jaeger-leCoultre Reverso and perhaps a Zenith Defy. But for those specifically looking for a square cased timepiece on bracelet, it is quite difficult to find as iconic a model as the Santos.