Where we all hoped for and what some of us expected, finally came through. Cartier announced the release of a mechanical version of their last year introduced steel Santos-Dumont. What Cartier did last year, was actually quite a bold step. The Santos-Dumont, Cartier’s first designed men’s watch that dates back to 1904, had always been in the catalog as a watch made in gold or platinum, just like most other historical Cartier watches. The decision to launch the watch with a steel-, a pink gold-, and in a steel/gold case was very unexpected and on top of that, the model was equipped with a quartz caliber, a decision that did not get much applause by the more serious watch collectors. A quartz movement, be it amazingly good, like this one that only needs a fresh battery once every six years, is still something one loves or hate. It’s a fact that most watch lovers prefer a mechanical caliber. One of the most common comments on Instagram was over and over again; “great watch, but what the fuck, why not a mechanical movement?”.
– SIZE –
Well, gentlemen, the time is ripe. Cartier will launch, next to the existing medium and large quartz model, a mechanical version in a new XL case.
The two existing models are the medium model in 38 mm x 27.5 mm and the large size measuring 43.5 mm x 31.4 mm. The new XL mechanical version will be released in a new 46.6 mm x 33.9 mm case. Substantial larger than the two 2019 models, but don’t get the idea that this puppy is crazy large. Despite the larger case, the height is only 7.5mm, what means that the watch is only 0.2mm thicker than the quartz models, that were launched last year. The watch is about the same size as the current Santos Medium and that watch also wears completely differently. The new Santos-Dumont is flat, slightly curved, fits very well on the wrist and looks amazingly smart under a cuffed shirt. It will be available in an all-steel version, in a steel case with pink gold bezel or in 18K pink gold.
– THE LOOKS –
A closer inspection of the watch shows immediately a big difference with existing Santos and earlier Santos Dumont models and that’s the Roman numerals.
Since years the numerals were pretty bold and condensed, on the new Santos-Dumont, they are thin and stretched, directly inspired by one of the original models from 1916. It is a design detail that I welcome very much, just like the prominent crown, that makes the watch so easy to wind. And this easy winding is something that lacks the models form the 80’ and 90’ a bit, where the crown is very small and not easy to handle.
That good looking bigger crown on the new model is also directly inspired by the vintage Santos-Dumont models. Cartier has an endless archive with original sketches from the early years, and La Maison, makes, thank god, good use of her heritage. The way the dial is done is however quite different from any other previous Santos-Dumont and in contrary to the vintage-looking numerals and crown, the dial is really modern and 2020 looking.
It can best be described as sunray brushed in silver, and it is, in fact, the same kind of dial as the two, quartz-powered, Dumont models have, that were released last year. Because of that historic look of the new Dumont, I would have preferred a plain lacquered dial, in a cream-white or yellowish color. As on most Cartier watches in this price category, La Maison opted for the well-known batton hands. In this case, Breguet style hands, or Apple shape hands as they are also called, would have been stunning, but Cartier usually keeps these classic and stylish hands, for their more high-end platinum watches and uses them rarely.
– THE CALIBER –
For the XL version of the Santos-Dumont Cartier choose again for the Piaget 430MC caliber. This is a very reliable and long-existing caliber with a power reserve of 38 hours. When we look back in the catalog of La Maison, we’ll find watches like the TV-shaped Santos-Dumont from 2005, the Baignoire XL from 2009, the Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat, but also earlier models like the Tank Obus and the Louis Cartier Ronde, both from the CPCP series, were all powered with this same trusty movement.
– THE STRAP –
For many years Cartier supplied most of their watches with a deployment buckle and an improved model of the folding buckle was presented at the last SIHH in 2019. But as far as I know, no watch has been released with the new clasp yet. Instead, La Maison continues to offer their watches with a pin buckle, as we saw on the Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat, the new Tonneau and the Steel Santos-Dumont of last year.
No exception for the new XL model, be it that this strap now has a metal insert in the leather, that allows the strap to fit seamless to the case, what gives a perfect-looking result, but what also makes the choice of other straps a bit more of a challenge. It goes without saying that Cartier will have enough possibilities to choose from, but finding a strap from another supplier, that fits as good as these new Cartier ones, will in this case, not be that easy.
– The Prices –
The steel version will set you back € 5,600, and that is a very attractive price and absolutely value for money for a Cartier timepiece with a 430MC caliber. Chapeau Cartier! The smart-looking full gold model will be yours for €14,900. The version in steel/gold, however, is set at € 7,750. and I find it hard to justify that the 18K lunette has such a premium.
– Conclusion –
As I said in the beginning, this is a watch many people have been waiting for. It is a typical men’s model, especially in this size. And the fact that it has lovely details, that trace back to the original model from the very first years, will make, the steel version a no brainer and the ideal daily watch to wear in any office environment.