The name Cartier needs no introduction. As one of the most influential and celebrated jewelry and watch brands of the last 100 years, it has always stood as a mark of luxury and desirability. Without taking away from its historical significance, I would say that when it comes to watches, Cartier has always been predominantly known as a ‘design’ brand rather than a pure watchmaking one, with stunningly iconic models such as the Tank, the Crash, and the Santos all seen as important due to how it looks. In fact, to this day, it is the beautiful and unconventional designs that attract collectors and it is a unique position in the watch brand hierarchy that no other possesses.
For those who do not know, the history of the Cartier Santos dates back to 1904, and it is one of Cartier’s oldest collections and one that is entirely dedicated to men. The collection was named after Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont who commissioned a watch from his friend Louis Cartier in 1904 to be worn while piloting his flying machines. The Cartier Santos is arguably the first men’s (and pilot) wristwatch to have ever been made. Designed from scratch to be worn on the wrist and not a converted pocket watch like most from its era, the Santos is undoubtedly an important and significant watch, not only for Cartier but also for the history of watchmaking in general. Since then, Cartier has been producing many different variations of the Santos.
In 2021, the Maison introduced two new limited editions based on the Cartier Santos-Dumont XL Hand-Wind from the year prior; one in platinum with a light blue dial, and the other being this exact one offered here in a steel case and rose gold dial and bezel configuration. Before we discuss any further, I feel the need to preface this by saying that this particular Santos-Dumont is unlike any other modern Cartiers I have handled so far as it commands a certain type of presence that is hard to describe in words. I don’t think it is because of its size or proportions, but due to its unconventional two-tone stainless steel and rose gold case combination. While I am not exactly a huge fan of two-tone watches in general, for some reason I have become somewhat fond of this particular combination despite its seemingly polarising appearance. There is just something about the synergy of the color tones produced by this particular combination that speaks to me, and I am fairly certain I could say the same for many Cartier enthusiasts as well.
As far as dimensions go, do not let the “XL” label fool you. In fact, the Santos-Dumont XL is actually relatively compact and wearable by modern standards measuring at only 46.6mm x 33.9mm x 7.5mm. The most distinguishing design element of this Santos Dumont XL is obviously the 18-carat rose gold dial and the bezel, which both sport a lush, warm coppery tone with a sunburst pattern emanating from the center. The mid-section of the dial also hosts a guilloche-like printed motif, which lends the watch some visual depth when viewed from afar. The dial houses rhodium-plated Arabic numerals instead of Cartier’s signature Roman numerals; this enhances the look of the Santos-Dumont XL quite dramatically. Further, the hands used here are thermally blued and they perfectly match the color of the cabochon crown. Visually speaking, it just works. I am not sure how, but as you can see here; when all these elements come together, the end result is a stunningly elegant timepiece. Period.
When you turn the Santos-Dumont XL over on its caseback, you will be greeted by a stylish engraving of Alberto Santos-Dumont’s original flying machine N°19. Beneath all of that is the hand-wound Cal. 430 MC, a movement that is based on the ultra-thin (2.15mm) Piaget Cal. 430P which holds a power reserve of 38 hours.
Limited to only 500 pieces, the Santos-Dumont XL Limited Edition in Steel and Gold is unobtrusive yet fantastically distinct in its overall appearance. Again, there is just something about the stainless steel and rose gold combination that makes this design so desirable. At the end of the day, all I can say is that this Santos-Dumont XL is an absolute delight to wear and we are very happy to be able to offer it now on the site.