Let’s take it for granted that it is well known in the meantime, that the Santos-Dumont model was Louis Cartier’s first design, that the genius developed for his aviator friend Alberto Santos-Dumont, in 1904. The dandy pilot had the exclusivity until 1911, only then this model became available for the public, at the Paris store.
Since this model is actually Cartier’s most famous timepiece, that was after all the inspiration for the Santos in ‘78, Santos Galbée in ‘96 and Santos 100 in 2005, La Maison decided to release not only the unlimited mechanical Santos-Dumont XL model, where we reported about in a previous article but also four more luxurious pieces in other materials and with different dials. This decision makes the Santos-Dumont accessible to many different types of clients.
All four models have the name and an engraving of the plane on the back of the watch, illustrating each of the airplanes Alberto Santos-Dumont was using. In an interview with magazine GQ, Cartier International’s director of Style, Image & Heritage, Pierre Rainero said: “We wanted to commemorate the most emblematic aircraft, to have an example of each possibility and all the different approaches because they were very ahead of their time. The four chosen planes – which are the most famous – show how Santos-Dumont explored the different ways of flying that were available at the time.”
Choosing your favorite one is not easy this time. For sizes and numbers, I refer to the schedule underneath, to make this article not cluttered up with details.
All five mechanical Santos-Dumont models from the 2020 collection, will be delivered on a pin buckle and share the same, very reliable Piaget 430MC caliber, that has a power reserve of 38 hours. Three of the new limited edition timepieces are large models and one has XL dimensions. The schedule above, explains which model is available in which size.
Let’s start with the steel/gold
“n°14 bis” Santos-Dumont watch with yellow gold bezel on a steel case with anthracite grey dial, blue spinel winding crown and gilded steel sword-shaped hands. Grey dials are quite rare at Cartier, but there were a few in the Santos (Dumont) line. Because of that dark dial, this is the only Dumont in this series that is supplied with gold hands. On the back of the watch, we’ll find an engraving of “n°14 bis”. In this flying machine, often described as a ‘kite of compartments’, the pilot, standing in the fuselage, was connected to the rudder and fins by cables. On the 23rd of October 1906, after a day full of pitfalls, the “n°14 bis” won the Archdeacon Cup. Then, on November 12th., it took the Aéro-Club award. Alberto Santos Dumont thus became the first aviator to complete a flight of 220 meters verified by an official organization.
Very classic looking is the yellow gold “La Baladeuse” Santos-Dumont watch with champagne dial, winding crown set with a sapphire, blued sword-shaped hands, and a daring patinated dark green alligator-skin strap.
On the back is engraved the profile of “La Baladeuse” or “n°9”, an experimental-looking motorized airship in which Santos-Dumont crossed the French capital’s sky in 1903. A small, bulging single-seater, “La Baladeuse” was intended for the personal use of its creator, who wished to demonstrate its usefulness in urban spaces. “The day will come when aerial omnibuses will transport tourists and business travelers,” insisted its creator.
The third model will probably be the favorite of many; the Platina “Le Brésil” Santos-Dumont watch with silvered dial, ruby set winding crown, decorated with 12 polished metallic Roman numerals and sword-shaped hands.
The sophistication of the polished or brushed finishes on the surfaces and bevel underlines its precious character. On the back of the case is engraved the design of Santos- Dumont’s very first machine, “Le Brésil”, created in 1898 – “the smallest” and “the most beautiful”, according to the aviator. Its unveiling took place on July 4th. 1898, after which a series of airships numbered 1 to 22 would emerge between 1898 and 1909, representing his many attempts to defy the laws of weightlessness.
To make your mouth water, even more, there will be a second platinum model available, but this time in an XL case. The timepiece is produced in a very limited series and can only make 30 new owners happy. This is what we call the tribute to masculine elegance:
the Santos-Dumont“ La Demoiselle”. This very different looking extra-large model will be delivered in a lacquered wooden box, containing a luxurious brown alligator leather travel-case, an extra alligator strap, and a pair of Santos cufflinks in rhodiumized white gold. Despite its larger case of 46.6mm x 33.9mm and the height of 7.5mm thick, the watch is only 0.2mm thicker than the quartz models that were launched last year. Quite an achievement, thanks to the 430MC mechanical caliber!
These cufflinks are however nothing to write home about since the model was already available in silver and in various variations. To accompany this highly exclusive watch, I honestly think that La Maison could have come up with a more daring pair of cufflinks. A newly designed model that would only be available together with this stunning Limited Edition watch and not just an existing and quite an uninteresting model, now upgraded in gold.
All 30 numbered pieces are engraved with the design of “La Demoiselle”, the most elegant one of the Santos’ flying machines.
This platinum watch with ruby cabochon was created in homage to Alberto Santos-Dumont, the pioneering dandy whose silhouette is inseparable from the Panama hat, he was never seen without. Cartier pays tribute to this stylish accessory by using a very smart looking made-to-measure Panama-weave strap. On the dial, the central square also evokes woven design, which gives a fantastic effect. The hands of the ‘La Demoiselle’, are what most collectors call Breguet style hands, but for this series, they are a bit different from the ones we find on older Cartier watches. They are slimmer, more straight, and have more modern styling, like the models in the Cartier Privé line. But to avoid misunderstandings, these new Santos-Dumont models are not part of this exclusive series.
As a detail for connoisseurs, the “Cartier” secret signature traditionally slipped into one of the branches of the VII is now and only for this model. replaced by the name “Santos”. Created in 1908, “La Demoiselle” is Alberto Santos-Dumont’s most accomplished flying machine, and one of the first aircraft to be mass-produced. With this machine, a new era began: “And we will sail through the air seeing Europe unfold at our feet like a geographical map. There we will remain, suspended between the stars and the earth.”
It goes without saying that this version is the absolute top of the line model of the Santos-Dumont collection. The dial is unique and the match with the bracelet is just very smart looking, making it a Santos-Dumont of a level, we have not seen for a long time. Only the Platinum Limited Edition of 90pc, the one with the salmon-colored dial from 1996, comes close. But….. beauty has a price, the much larger platinum case, the different dial, luxurious strap and Breguet style hands and not to forget the exclusivity of a really small edition of just 30 pieces Worldwide, are all adding up to a pretty heavy price tag.
Still, serious collectors should act really fast, since the only 30 watches that will become available, may never reach the showcases of the Cartier Boutiques.
It’s safe to say that Cartier is presenting a fantastic selection of Santos-Dumont variations and maybe the most important fact is that there is something for any type of collector. Two different sizes, all powered with the Piaget 430MC caliber and models available in steel with gold, 18k yellow gold, and two different sizes in platinum set with a ruby in the crown. And together, with the quartz models that were released last year and the XL mechanical version in steel, we reported about already in a previous article, the Santos-Dumont line has never been as strong as it is this year.
“n°14 bis” Santos-Dumont Euro 7050,- • “La Baladeuse” Santos-Dumont Euro 14000.- • “Le Brésil” Santos-Dumont Euro 18200.-“ • La Demoiselle” Santos-Dumont Euro 42400.-
Availability is not communicated yet.