This year, Cartier are shining the spotlight on the pioneering age of aviation as a source of inspiration. And that brings to the fore the wristwatch that started it all, the Santos-Dumont. The model returned to prominence in 2019 with the quartz Cartier Santos-Dumont. While the Cartier family and Brazilian inventor Alberto Santos-Dumont are inexorably linked through his role in their development of the first-ever men’s wristwatch, it is exciting to see his work used as a motif in a series of limited editions this year. One of the most striking of these limited editions is the Cartier Santos-Dumont “La Demoiselle”, a platinum wristwatch that references an aircraft developed by Mr Santos-Dumont in 1907.
The Santos-Dumont Demoiselle aircraft was built to compete in the Grand Prix d’Aviation. In order to promote aircraft development, a 50,000 franc prize was offered to the first person able to fly an aircraft around a circular 1km circuit. It would also be the last aircraft that Santos-Dumont would build. For Cartier to name a watch after this important aircraft is a fitting tribute to the man who invented it, and an appropriate way to celebrate a pivotal moment in the history of what was then a French jewellery company.
The watch itself is an extra-large size, measuring 46.6mm lug to lug and 33.9mm wide. As with the regular production Santos-Dumont watches that were released last month, the slim profile is maintained, despite the use of a mechanical movement, with the La Demoiselle being only 7.5mm thick. In a wink to those in the know, the cabochon in the crown is a ruby, instead of the traditional sapphire that Cartier use in many of their watches, denoting that the case is platinum rather than the more typically used steel or gold.
Arriving at the dial, and we have one of the most uniquely attractive examples released by Cartier in recent years. The centre of the dial features a basketweave pattern that matches the woven strap, a pattern inspired by the trademark Panama hat worn by Mr Santos-Dumont. Instead of the more commonly used sword hands, Cartier has opted to use blackened Breguet hands, a decision that is consistent with the original Santos-Dumont watch. In another hat tip to the Brazilian inventor, the word SANTOS can be seen in place of the traditional Cartier secret signature within the VII hour marker. The ivory dial contrasts cleanly against the blackened hands and railroad minute track.
To further celebrate the Santos-Dumont aircraft, Cartier has also included an engraved sketch of the aircraft on the platinum caseback of the La Demoiselle. The caseback also marks the limited edition number, a reference to the mechanical movement of the watch and the hallmarks typically associated with a platinum watch case.
There are only 30 pieces being made of the Cartier Santos-Dumont La Demoiselle; however, each will be sold with a host of attractive accessories. The watch will be presented in a numbered presentation box, alongside an alligator leather travel pouch, matching second strap and a pair of white gold cufflinks inlaid with red tigers eye.
Cartier Santos-Dumont La Demoiselle pricing and availability:
The Cartier Santos-Dumont La Demoiselle has an RRP of CHF41,600.