The Cartier Santos has over 100 years of history and is one of the first pilot's watches ever created. With a square case, Roman numerals, and precious materials like 18-karat gold, this luxury watch is unmistakable.
Aviation was still completely new at the start of the 20th century. The Brazilian pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont was especially influential in France due to his experiments with motorized flight. In 1906, he completed the first public flight with a motorized plane. During the flight, which set many world records, Santos-Dumont wore a unique square wristwatch. Two years earlier, Dumont-Santos had contacted Cartier. He'd expressed his dislike of using pocket watches while flying, as they were almost impossible to read. Therefore, Louis Cartier created a prototype of a new watch, which later became the Santos, one of the Parisian company's most iconic timepieces.
The Cartier Santos is now available in many different models. Cartier introduced the Santos Sport in 1978, a stainless steel watch with an automatic movement, stainless steel bracelet, gold bezel, and exposed screws on the bezel and bracelet. The Santos Sport is one of the most successful luxury watches of its time. The Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace, a Parisian museum dedicated to air and space travel, even has the watch on display as a part of an exhibit.
Cartier rereleased the Santos in 2018, this time with an in-house caliber and softer lines that give the case a sleeker feel.
The main feature of every Santos is the Roman numerals that lend this watch its classically elegant character. Apart from a few outliers, such as the Santos Ronde and the Santos Octagon, every model also has a square case in common. The collection features both quartz and automatic timepieces. Both men and women can wear the Cartier Santos thanks to its neutral case size.
|Santos 100 Flying Tourbillon XL||Over 117,000 USD||Rose gold|
|Santos-Dumont Skeleton Watch XL||56,000 USD||Titanium, coated|
|Santos de Cartier||17,500 USD||Red gold|
|Santos Demoiselle||16,300 USD||Rose gold|
|Santos 100 Carbon||7,000 USD||Stainless steel, coated|
|Santos Galbée||1,800 USD||Stainless steel/red gold|
The Cartier Santos is one of the most famous watches of its kind. The series has over 100 years of history and is considered one of the world's first pilot's watches. Pre-owned models in good condition are available for under 1,200 USD. These watches are usually powered by a precise quartz movement. Automatic models are also available in this price range.
You can purchase the Santos Galbée—one of the standard models—for around 1,800 USD. Gold Santos watches are more expensive; pre-owned, they typically cost 3,500 USD, though some sell for over 17,500 USD. Versions with diamond-studded bezels have prices in the 23,000-USD range.
Prices for a new Cartier Santos start at 3,500 USD. Bicolor models made of stainless steel and yellow gold cost around 5,800 USD. New solid gold models cost around 11,700 USD, and with diamonds, they cost around 23,300 USD.
If you're looking for something a bit larger, the Cartier Santos 100 should be your first choice. You can buy this watch pre-owned and in good condition for around 2,590 USD. New models cost around 4,700 USD. Gold Santos 100 watches cost around 11,700 USD when pre-owned, while prices start at 17,500 USD for new models. Models with a tourbillon cost over 117,000 USD and are considered some of the finest examples of haute horlogerie.
The new edition of the Santos de Cartier premiered in 2018. Its relaxed take on the usually angular bezel took the watch industry by surprise. The edges curve and transition seamlessly into the bracelet. This is especially apparent on the bicolor models. Expect to pay around 9,300 USD for a never-worn medium example. You can get a larger model with a red gold case for about 17,500 USD.
The systems used to change or adjust the bracelet are especially practical. Known as QuickSwitch and SmartLink, Cartier has made sure you can easily change and adjust your bracelet yourself without the need for special tools. What's more, these models can resist magnetic fields up to 1,200 Gauss, making them great for daily use.
The watches in the Cartier Santos-Dumont series follow in the footsteps of the first Santos models. The newer series maintains the characteristic square case with rounded edges. However, other design aspects were slightly modernized. There are trendy versions with a skeletonized dial and versions with cases made of black-coated titanium. Skeletonized dials are special because they allow the wearer to admire the movement at work.
The Santos-Dumont Skeleton Watch XL is made of black ADLC-coated titanium. The advantages of titanium are obvious: It's lighter than stainless steel and just as robust. The manual in-house caliber 9612 MC powers this timepiece. It has a 72-hour power reserve, which is equal to three days. This means you can take your watch off on Friday and put it back on Monday and it will still work perfectly. The dial is only made up of the movement's bridges, which are in the shape of Roman numerals. The sword hands are made of rhodium-plated brass, and a sapphire glass case back gives the wearer a clear look at the movement. The alligator leather strap with an 18-karat white gold butterfly clasp completes the look.
The list price for the Santos-Dumont Skeleton Watch XL comes in at 56,000 USD.
The Santos-Dumont is also available in a more classic design featuring a traditional dial with Roman numerals. The 18-karat pink or rhodium-plated white gold cases are each adorned with 59 diamonds on the lugs, crown, and around the dial on the edge of the case. Altogether, the diamonds equal 2.48 carats. The case has dimensions of 44.48 x 34.6 mm, and with a thickness of just 5.58 mm, the model is wonderfully thin. Sapphire glass protects the dial and baton hands from any damage. The mechanical in-house caliber 430 MC powers the classic Santos-Dumont watches.
These versions of the Santos-Dumont cost around 28,000 USD.
Compared to the Santos-Dumont, the Cartier Santos 100 is a bit bulkier and more masculine. Cartier presented the Santos 100 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Santos. The original watch from 1904 was small and delicate. The Santos 100, however, follows the recent trend toward larger watches. With dimensions of 42 x 51 mm, it's well suited for larger wrists. The square stainless steel case has rounded edges and exposed screws on its bezel. With a thickness of 10.34 mm, this model is also a bit larger than the Santos-Dumont. Both feature Roman numerals on their dials as well as an alligator leather strap. The ETA caliber 2892 powers this wristwatch.
The Santos 100 is available in stainless steel, bicolor stainless steel/yellow gold, and black-coated stainless steel. The Santos 100 Carbon, the black-coated model, comes with a calfskin strap and has the sportiest feel. Its red second hand creates a stark contrast with the black watch. The watch is powered by the in-house automatic caliber 1847 MC with a 42-hour power reserve. You can purchase this timepiece for about 7,000 USD new.
The Cartier Santos-Dumont and Santos 100 collections are also available for women. The models in the Santos Demoiselle series are marketed exclusively towards women. Smaller case dimensions of 24 x 18.7 mm or 28.25 x 21.65 mm are perfect for smaller, more feminine wrists.
New stainless steel models start around 4,700 USD, while pre-owned pieces sell for as little as 2,100 USD. More decorative versions with diamonds and rose gold cases demand about 16,300 USD.