Luminous Cartier Santos

Cartier grows the Santos collection with chronographs and a luminous skeleton. By Mark Bernardo.

Last year’s SIHH saw Cartier relaunch the famed Santos de Cartier, the gents’ timepiece inspired by Alberto Santos-Dumont — pioneering aviator, inventor, and buddy of Louis Cartier, who basically invented the wristwatch as a personal favour to him. The story of the Santos’s origins can be explored in a bit more detail in my report on the new collection from SIHH 2018, but today we’re going to focus on two new additions to the line unveiled at this year’s salon, which wrapped up yesterday in Geneva: the Santos Chronograph and Santos Skeleton Noctambule.

Each of the new watches is tied to a Santos-Dumont aviation theme. The Santos de Cartier Chronograph, which is available in all rose gold, two-tone yellow gold and steel, and steel and black DLC, draws its inspiration from the flying speed records that Santos-Dumont set, the earliest of which dates all the way back to 1906, and the devices used to time those speeds. The case, in that distinctive rounded-square shape, is available in two sizes, which Cartier calls Large (35.1 mm x 45.9 mm) and Extra Large (39.8 mm x 47.5 mm). Its ergonomical shape has been engineered to include a single start-stop chronograph pusher at 9 o’clock; the reset button has been directly integrated into the crown. The dial has a classic tricompax design, with subdials at 3, 6 , and 9 o’clock, a date window at 6 o’clock, and Cartier’s well-known Roman hour numerals surrounded by a minute scale.

Inside the watch is Cartier’s in-house-made Caliber 1904-CH MC, whose integrated chronograph functions are driven by a system boasting a column wheel, a vertical clutch, and a linear reset hammer. The self-winding movement holds a 48-hour power reserve and beats at 28,800 vph. Mounted on either an alligator leather or rubber straps, steel or gold bracelets, the watches all feature Cartier’s patented QuickSwitch system for easy changing of straps and the also-patented SmartLink size adjustment system to easily remove links from the bracelets to adjust their size without tools. Prices range from $7,200 to $20,000.

The Santos de Cartier Skeleton Noctambule (that’s “Night Owl” en francais), the brand tells us, was devised as a tribute to the night skies over Paris, which Santos-Dumont flew over on test flights while using a floodlight to illuminate his path. Cartier, which of course was founded in Paris, echoes those city lights by coating this watch’s skeletonised movement bridges with Super-LumiNova, which is invisible during the day but glows a bright green at night. As in previous Cartier Skeletons — including the Santos model that debuted last year, albeit without the luminous enhancement — the bridges have been formed to shape the large Roman numerals (“III,” “VI,” “IX” and “XII”) representing the principal hour indications.

This glow-in-the-dark take on the Santos has a 39.8-mm case made of stainless steel with an ADLC coating, housing the Cartier Caliber 9612 MC, with manual winding and a 72-hour power reserve. The watch is offered on suitable nocturnal-look black or grey leather straps, equipped like the Chronograph models with the QuickSwitch system, and priced at $36,900.


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