Cartier’s Age of Santos

New Watch! • 18 Feb 2019

Cartier’s Age of Santos

by Nick Kenyon

Cartier SIHH 2019

The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie of 2019 saw a number of brands release collections that were heralded as their best in recent years. At an event with so many highlights from its exhibitors, rising above such an elevated standard is a challenge. However, the Parisian powerhouse of Cartier looked deep into their archives to produce a collection that was arguably one of the best on show. The focus of their collection was a watch with over a century of heritage behind it, and a design that has become a pillar of Cartier – the Santos.

Cartier Santos-Dumont

In a move that sees Cartier focus more at an entry-level price point, the new Cartier Santos-Dumont is a strong statement from the brand. The design has been updated with a bezel that is more visually self-contained, the return of the steeply domed cabochon crown, and a slightly elongated effect to the classic Cartier numerals that give a sense of thoughtful precision.

The real news, however, is the use of an in-house quartz movement that has a battery life double its predecessor, now six years. The use of the quartz movement also allows the case to be much thinner, sitting at just 7 mm thick, making an elegant watch all the more sophisticated. Not only does this make the new Santos-Dumont significantly more affordable, but this level of autonomy in a wristwatch makes it perfect to be a daily office-wear that doesn’t demand daily attention.

Santos de Cartier

Also released at SIHH 2019 is the all-new Santos de Cartier line, available as a time and date watch or as a rather special chronograph.

The time and date Santos de Cartier is worth mentioning as it includes an intriguing gradient blue dial variant. While blue dials are not unheard of from Cartier, they are certainly uncommon enough to make this piece stand out from the crowd. Fading from smoky navy-blue to black, the radial sunburst pattern on the dial assists in drawing the gaze inward. The darker outer sections of the dial are contrasted highly with applied silver Roman numerals, which match the Super-Luminova filled sword-style hands. As the numerals are applied metal, rather than traditionally printed, those with a keen eye will notice the absence of the “Cartier” signature within the 7 o’clock numeral.

The date window at 6 o’clock is kept tastefully subtle with a dark blue date disk that blends nicely with the rest of the dial. Rated to 100m of water resistance, both new Santos de Cartier watches show Cartier looking to make more versatile watches that can be worn every day.

Santos de Cartier Chronograph

The Santos de Cartier Chronograph is another example of instantly recognizable Cartier design, but with a modern sensibility. Available in steel and yellow gold bezel, solid 18k pink gold, and steel with a black ADLC bezel the chronograph is robust and sporty.

Despite the chronograph’s robust size and geometry, Cartier has refused to sacrifice any of the iconic symmetry for which its watches are famous. Rather than having the typical configuration of two chronograph pushers, symmetry has been maintained with the start/stop pusher placed at 9 o’clock, with the reset pusher integrated into the crown at 3 o’clock. While not quite a monopusher chronograph, it certainly has the no-nonsense minimalism of one.

Featured on both Santos de Cartier watches is the QuickSwitch mechanism on the back of the bracelet endlinks. This makes removing the bracelet possible in a matter of moments without the use of any tools. Another thoughtful feature is the EasyLink system. With this, bracelet links can be added or removed by pressing a button on the reverse of each link.

These features, along with the high-autonomy quartz movement in the Santos-Dumont, show that Cartier is looking to give more and more independence to their customers. By minimizing unnecessary visits to the boutique for rudimentary reasons such as bracelet adjustments or battery changes, Cartier are ensuring customer’s satisfaction long after they wave goodbye to their sales attendant.

 Final Thoughts

From the widely approachable Santos-Dumont, to the clean balance of the Santos de Cartier Chronograph, this latest collection has an appeal to both collectors and those getting into Cartier for the first time. The variety on offer means there is something for everyone, as even those who find Cartier’s traditional aesthetic not to their tastes, are able to feast their eyes on the mysterious blue of the new gradient dial Santos de Cartier. If you have been considering Cartier for a little while but haven’t yet pulled the trigger, the release of this new collection is the perfect opportunity to wear a timeless design on your wrist.

Tags: cartier cartier santos-dumont chronograph monopusher salon international de la haute horlogerie santos de cartier chronograph santos de cartier line

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