Following the recent revamp of the Santos family, Cartier used SIHH 2019 to announce a new but related line, the Cartier Santos Dumont . Classically sized, thin, and available only on a leather strap, the Santos-Dumont is a beautiful expression of the Cartier design language and, thanks to its use of a quartz movement, is offered at a price point not common to the Santos, all while maintaining that very appealing wrist presence.
With few exceptions, my personal preference in watches tends towards the more affordable and accessible side of the market. I like a wild complication and precious metals just fine, but my own collecting and buying habits inform a closer eye on watches on the entry-level side of luxury. As such watches are in limited supply at SIHH, it’s exciting when a comparatively accessible new watch is announced, even more so when it’s from a brand like Cartier.
While I recognize that many reading this may disregard the Santos-Dumont because of Cartier’s choice to use a quartz movement, I think there is a lot here to like (including the movement). The Santos-Dumont comes in two sizes, a smaller option at 27.5mm wide (38.5mm lug to lug), and a larger version that is 31.4mm wide (43.5mm lug to lug). Just 7mm thick and mounted on an alligator strap, both sizes wear well, but the slightly larger model looked more contemporary on my seven-inch wrist (you can see both sizes on-wrist below). Given the classic Cartier styling, I think either size could work for most wrists and for both men or women. Additionally, given the square case, both models felt a bit bigger on wrist than those dimensions would suggest.
With options in steel, two-tone, and full 18k rose gold, the look is dressy and elegant, but not at all fussy. Like many of the more simple designs from Cartier, the Cartier Santos Dumont has a versatility and style that is at home with a suit but not out of place with a more casual outfit. Given the (comparatively) smaller sizing of both models and the thin case execution, the Santos-Dumont wears really well and the 18k rose gold model is sure to elicit a smile as you put it on your wrist. Where these new Cartiers become more noteworthy is in their use of a quartz movement and the resulting entry-level price point. Displaying just the hours and minutes, Cartier Santos Dumont has fitted a custom “high-autonomy” quartz movement that offers six years of battery life. Quartz will be a no-go for some (and the brand makes all sorts of mechanical models), but as a relatively commercial offering that is meant to be simple and easy to wear, quartz makes sense. Similar to the value statement of the quartz-powered Tank Solo, think of the Santos-Dumont as a grab-and-go workday watch or maybe even a reliable and fuss-free dress watch option for those who might rarely dress up. As the entry point for the Santos line, the Santos-Dumont will also function as many buyers’ initial introduction to Cartier watches.
In 2019, Cartier released the Santos Dumont line of watches with quartz movements – then followed that up one year later with a string of mechanical, limited variations. This year, the brand has added more limited goodness to the line (but don’t worry, there’s one non-limited model, too).
The 2022 Cartier Santos Dumont collection comprises three watches meant to invoke the spirit and style of the watch once worn by the eponymous Alberto Santos-Dumont. But ol’ Alberto never had options like these. Each of the limited watches brings together a mixture of color and metal. The variations are burgundy and platinum, beige and gold, or black and steel. All of them are coated with a thin layer of lacquer, then smoothed, and finally polished by hand.
The platinum model comes fitted to a burgundy strap, the gold has a green strap, and the steel gets a black strap.
Each watch is presented in the large, 43.5mm sizing with the Cartier manufacture manual winding 430 MC movement. The platinum watch is limited to 150 pieces while the gold is limited to 250 pieces. The steel and black variant will be a regular production model. All of the pieces will be available in November of this year.