Cartier staked its claim in wristwatch history with the first Santos-Dumont watch, presented by brand founder Louis Cartier to his friend, the Brazilian aviator Charles Santos-Dumont, in 1904. Santos-Dumont, who was one of the pioneers of piloting balloons and dirigibles for flight, had lamented to his friend Cartier how difficult it was to keep track of the time on a hand-held pocketwatch while still keeping both hands on the controls. Cartier’s solution was a square-cased watch to be worn on the wrist. While it wasn’t necessarily the very first wristwatch, the Santos-Dumont model is believed to be the first one made specifically for men. The colorful aviator and his exploits helped popularize that style of timepiece, which eventually overtook the more traditional pocketwatch as the preferred timekeeper for both men and women in the 20th century.
Since then, the Santos-Dumont watch has been a popular staple of Cartier’s men’s collection. Last year, the company introduced a version in a white-gold case with a skeletonized movement, Cartier’s manufacture Caliber 9614 MC, which had several of the bridges cleverly formed so they read as Roman numerals, replacing a conventional dial. At this year’s SIHH in Geneva, Cartier introduced the watch in a rose-gold case. The blue sword-shaped hands and blue faceted sapphire in the winding crown add a touch of bright color, and the brown alligator leather strap completes the package. The price: $47,600.
Movement: Cartier manufacture Caliber 9614 MC, manual-winding; diameter = 28 mm x 28 mm; thickness = 3.97 mm; frequency = 28,800 vph; 20 jewels, 138 total parts; 72-hour power reserve; individually numbered
Functions: Hours and minutes
Case: 18k rose gold; diameter = 38.75 mm x 47.4 mm; heptagonal crown; sapphire crystal in front and caseback; water-resistant to 30 meters; comes on brown alligator-skin strap with rose-gold, adjustable double-folding clasp
Dial and hands: Roman numerals formed by bridges replaces dial; sword-shaped blued-steel hands