What: The Santos is one of those watches that any avid watch collector or someone who’s into buying fine timepieces would have for their “starter kit”. The watch’s appeal is obvious. For one, the square-cased timepiece with its screwed down bezel is a Cartier classic that is part industrial, part retro. To extrapolate, one can say that its look and design features mirror another well-loved classic in the maison’s jewellery arsenal — the Love bracelet.
And when you take into consideration that this watch is one of the oldest in the horology scene — it was created in 1904 — you would realise its timeless appeal. For starters, here’s a brief history. The very first Santos was actually a private commission by Brazilian pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont and that piece is widely regarded as being the very first men’s wristwatch that the brand designed.
The brief by the client was simple: he needed to tell the time without ever having to remove his hands from the plane’s controls. It was only in 1911 that Cartier launched the watch for commercial production. The Santos was also the watch that made Cartier a popular with the mass and younger consumer. It was the chosen model when Cartier introduced a steel watch in 1978 to tap on a younger and massclientele. Prior to that all of Cartier’s watches were exclusively in precious metals. In that sense, the Santos became the poster child of affordable luxury.
What’s new: For the new 2018 updates (prices and launch date unavailable), Cartier introduces exclusively automatic models in both and M (35.1mm) and L size (39.8mm). The material permutation for the case, meanwhile, runs the gamut from stainless steel to a bi-colour yellow gold and steel combo to pink gold and yellow gold renditions. In addition, the L version comes with a stunning openwork style in gold or steel.
This is also the most practical and ergonomic update of the Santos. Take for example the bracelet and strap. Just like interchangeable luxury leather bag straps, each can be easily swapped — choose from steel, gold, calfskin and alligator — thanks to a patent-pending system dubbed the QuickSwitch.
For those with smaller wrists, there is also a nifty feature which allows the wearer to easily tweak the length of the bracelet without the need for any screwdrivers. Called the SmartLink technology, this feature lets the wearer to simply press a button to unlatch the link in order to emove or add them.
Why bother: Because exactly four decades after Cartier marketed the Santos as a modern luxury piece, the watch still remains one of the most iconic timepieces. What’s more impressive to note is that besides the more practical and ergonomic design updates, nothing much has changed with how this timepiece looks. That speaks volume to its timelessness.
Also, given how retailers reveal how the average Singaporean woman prefers bulkier and masculine timepieces to daintier and feminine models, it makes perfect sense why this ticker should rank high on your list the next time you’re shopping for some arm candy.