Last week we had a look at the ‘regular’ version of Cartier’s updated Santos, and today the less-is-more Skeleton is under our lens. To be specific, we’re talking about the large steel model (though there’s a pink gold version as well), which comes on the QuickSwitch and SmartLink equipped steel bracelet, replete with those prominent screws — you also get an additional alligator strap, allowing you to change your look should the fancy take you. So far, so standard for the new Santos. But what’s special here is the dial, or lack thereof, as you would expect. The manually wound 9611MC movement has been designed from the ground up as a skeleton movement, a process that means the architecture has been designed for maximum visual impact — the bridges have taken the form of Cartier’s iconic exploding Roman numerals; a pleasing blend of negative space and mechanics. And while the stripped-back style of the skeletonised Santos might not be to all tastes, it’s an important skill in Cartier’s history, and there’s no faulting the execution here.
Few watches can rival Cartier’s Santos in terms of on-the-wrist recognition and sheer weight of history. The design debuted in 1904 and has remained fundamentally unchanged in form since. But while the new Santos might look familiar, quite a lot has changed. Small changes have been made to the design and ergonomics of the case, resulting in a watch that looks and wears better on the wrist. Bigger changes have been made to the inside, with an in-house movement upgrade and, most excitingly of all, a new QuickSwitch strap change system that allows you to swap your strap quickly and painlessly. This is something I’d be really excited to see rolled out more widely across the Cartier collection. On a related note, there’s a similar functionality for the bracelet, allowing you to add and remove links without tools. These changes on their own are all fairly incremental, but package them up together, on a design as strong as this, and the Santos suddenly becomes a very compelling proposition.
Disclaimer: This post contains minimal traces of watch. But it does contain some very large diamonds. Ocean’s 8, the latest in the long-running series of elaborate heist movies, is about to hit our screens, but this time around the film is less of a bro session, as Clooney, Pitt et al. have been benched in favour of an all female crew, with Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett masterminding the (inevitably convoluted) caper. The object of their attention is a fairly pricey necklace, worn by Anne Hathaway. And here’s where things get interesting. This necklace, named the “Jeanne Toussaint” necklace, is made by Cartier, who happen to be the film’s exclusive jewellery partner, so some scenes were filmed in the brand’s New York boutiques, and Cartier watches (pro-tip for the watchspotters), jewellery and high jewellery items have their own supporting roles. The prop necklace was made in less than eight weeks by Cartier’s Parisian high jewellery workshops, from white gold with zirconium oxide for the diamonds. What I particularly like about this necklace, though, is the backstory. The necklace takes its name from Jeanne Toussaint, Cartier’s Creative Director during the 1930s, and is credited with being significant in establishing Cartier’s visual… Read More
The story in a second: A lot of value for not a lot of case. Though “perceived value” has become the new marketing-speak of the last couple of years in the watch industry, there still aren’t that many brands in the luxury watch industry that have taken any real significant strides. Sure, we’ve seen prices nudge their way down from Zenith through to Bell & Ross, but in my opinion these moves have been more about correcting past price creep rather than delivering greater bang-for-your-buck than what’s already been on the market. Of all the players at the big table, I never imagined it’d be Cartier leading the real value charge, but in the case of the Cartier Drive de Cartier Extra Flat in steel this is precisely the case. Great design, a killer hand-wound calibre, and an unrivalled (for the dollar) case profile all make this new release a home run, especially now it’s being offered in non-precious metals. When the first white gold and rose gold models were announced in 2017 there was a hefty outcry from the industry’s media dying for a steel offering to be added, and clearly there was enough marketing data to back it… Read More
If you’re a relative newcomer to the whole world of watches, it’s easy to underestimate just how big Cartier is, and how important their impact on modern watchmaking is. Cartier have carved themselves an unimpeachable place as the evergreen masters of the shaped watch, and the Santos is the watch that started it all. While the origins of the Santos date back to the early 20th century, its primary stylistic association lies not with Belle Époque Europe but rather with Wall Street, circa 1980-something, as the modern Santos was launched (on that oh-so-distinctive bracelet) in 1978. The Santos was a key element in the power dresser’s uniform. The ultimate expression of this power watch has to be the full yellow gold version — the epitome of ’80s opulence, excess and awesomeness, all in a convenient, wrist-sized package. And now that the ’80s is sufficiently distant in our rear-view mirror for heartwarming nostalgia to set in, the Santos is back. It was Cartier’s hero at SIHH, with its new movement, redesigned case and exceptionally user-friendly quick change bracelet and link systems — all upgrades that make a very 2018 watch, even if the looks have barely changed in the last 30-odd years…. Read More
Over the past decade, while earning its chops as a serious technical watchmaker, Cartier has demonstrated time and again its mastery of the artistic crafts – métiers d’art in the Francophone world of watchmaking. It has taken traditional techniques and gone further – for example, using straw and flower petals for marquetry. It has also remastered 3000-year-old techniques that were virtually extinct, including granulation – a manner of creating surface texture using tiny gold beads. As a result, we have seen a series of achingly beautiful dials – exquisitely detailed, a celebration of human skill. Beautiful they are, but quite serious. Cartier is not one to fool around. So, who could have guessed that the most fun watch of SIHH 2018 would have come from the grand Parisian Maison? Looking at the photographs of the watch outside Cartier’s booth, I could only think, “Huh? What’s going on here?” A watch with a panther’s face on the dial – so far, so Cartier. Pictures of a slightly pixelated or deconstructed panther’s face? Strange. You need to see the watch in reality (or at least a video) to make sense of it. It’s confounding. It’s delightful. It’s like watching a magic trick…. Read More
Visiting Cartier at SIHH is always an experience. Not only does the floorspace of the maison’s booth outstrip that of any other, but there’s always a sense of effortless cool, matched only by the sort of self-assurance that only comes from having been masters of your craft for a long, long time. Cartier Santos de Cartier Take, for example, the Cartier Santos. The watch, which lays claim to being the first modern wristwatch, was born in 1904, and is wearing its age well. This year, Cartier gave the model some smart, user-friendly upgrades – most notably the QuickSwitch strap changing system. Thankfully, these changes don’t mar the purity of the Santos case, which has received only minor ergonomic updates and subtle changes to the proportions of the bezel. Cartier Santos de Cartier Skeleton Cartier is well known for their skeletonised watches, so it made perfect sense for the Santos to get the stripped-down treatment. Offered in steel and pink gold large versions, this Santos, with its architectural Roman bridges, is an entirely more modern proposition. Cartier Révélation d’une Panthère Watch Seeing this watch for the first time was one of the real ‘wow’ moments of SIHH 2018. An entirely new… Read More
It’s a tricky task upgrading a storied and legendary watch such as the Santos — you must innovate while appearing to be unchanging. It’s a job that Cartier have pulled off with aplomb at SIHH 2018. The new Santos is the star in their masculine line-up, a sensitive update that brings the design very much up to date. But first, a quick origin story. The Santos claims the enviable title of the first modern wristwatch, made by Louis Cartier in 1904 for Brazilian aviator, bon vivant and (apparently) all-round cool guy Alberto Santos-Dumont. The watch quickly caught on and has had pride of place in Cartier’s line-up ever since. So what’s new in 2018? Well, let’s start with the insides. The 1847 MC movement (first appearing in the Clé) has been newly added to the line, adding some anti-magnetic clout into the mix. The case, in medium or large versions, is – by and large – unchanged. There has been some refinement to the shape of the bezel, but all the core elements are (thankfully) untouched. The real story, believe it or not, is the straps. The Santos debuts the brand new QuickSwitch system, a solution to the humble (and… Read More