The one watch in the world, that has probably been the most wanted, most loved, most hated and most copied watch for decades is without any doubts the Santos by Cartier. Sure there have been other very famous brands, but none of them has been in the spotlight for so long, with just one model.
Cartier’s decision to release a steel/gold and therefor more commercial and affordable variation of the Santos Dumont, which was actually more or less a down grade of the original Dumont model, was quite a departure for the brand, that used to have a very classic watch collection. The model not only changed the collection, it also changed the way people looked at Cartier, it became a “must have” watch and an item the world spoke about. The launch of the Santos watch in Paris, October 20th. 1978, was a really historic date.
This was THE re-invention of the first and most famous Cartier watch; the Santos Dumont, that Cartier originally created for the Brazilian aviator Santos Dumont.
The launch took place, during one of the so well known glamorous Gala evenings,
Cartier is famous for. This time it was at the ‘Musée de l’Air’ in Paris. A really unique location, since the airplane of Santos Dumont, named ‘Demoiselles’ is still housed here.
The much more casual Santos, now with it’s steel gold case and bracelet, started a second youth, right after it’s launch. On one side the watch did look very sporty with the screws all over the bracelet and on the lunette, on the other side it had not lost it’s classic look at all; the white dial, roman numerals and blued baton hands, Cartier’s well known signature, was still in there. Besides the bakelite Santos in 1924, this was one of the first, or may be the first watch by Cartier,
that was not made in a precious metal. This incredible looking watch was housed in a 36.8 x 25.7 mm case. The mix of steel with gold was pretty new and awaked the competition to create a lot of ‘Me Too’ products.
Within a couple of years this new Santos became the most copied watch in the world, since it was, no doubts, the watch to have for the current and a new, mainly younger, clientele.
Crushed Fake Cartier watches used to create a piece of art, on display in the foyer of Richemont International Distribution, near Friburg Switzerland.
The artist is Cesar Baldaccini, whose peculiarity is the use of new and popular material, to create his master pieces. Baldaccini has collaborated for a long time with the Cartier Foundation. In the year the “fake watches cube” was produced – 1980 – it was estimated that 2 million fake Cartier watches were marketed every year and the official Cartier production was 250.000 pieces per year!
Not long after the release, the watch was presented in all steel and every few years, variations on the model were added to the collection. The all steel version, was actually my very first ‘real’ watch. Variations like an all yellow gold model, a plain grey dial version with just the date window @ 3, guilloche dials with applied gold numerals, a limited platinum version with a ruby set in the crown,
round and octagon models, various Galbée versions in gold, in steel and in steel gold, a limited edition Galbée in platinum with applied numerals and mechanical movement, and a stunning limited edition Galbée in 2002 with a grey dial, are just to name a few. “Galbée” became the model name of a next variation of the Santos since the new case was slightly bend or curved. Galbée is the French word for curved.
Today there are two mechanical mens models in the catalogue, the Santos Galbée XL in steel gold or in all steel, both powered with the automatic caliber 49. Larger case 32 x 45.5mm, compared to the former 29 x 41 mm, that’s quite a bit larger and for many men a step in the right direction, since not only the watch case was larger, also the bracelet became wider and gave a bolder look on the inside of the wrist. The buckle with the prominent CC logo, was replaced for a blind closure.
Another important detail that changed the appearance of the watch, is the inside of the case. While the first model had that small funny, the current Santos with it’s curved and larger case is clearly a very universal and good looking men’s watch for daily wear. It fits a suit with shirt and cufflinks as good as a jeans combined with a Polo shirt. At the same time is the Santos also a great alternative for other, often crowned, watches since the Santos matches their offer and add’s good taste to it! So no matter where you go or what you do, at least your watch will always make the right impression.
Gone is the tummy of the first model (pictured above), the new case is completely flat and curved. Note the eroded bracelet on the vintage Santos, it’s in fact the second model of the bracelet since the one the watch was originally presented with, needed to be improved.
The current Santos with it’s curved and larger case, pictured on the left, is clearly a very universal and good looking men’s watch for daily wear. It fits a suit with shirt and cufflinks as good as a jeans combined with a Polo shirt. At the same time is the Santos also a great alternative for other, often crowned, watches since the Santos matches their offer and add’s good taste to it! So no matter where you go or what you do, at least your watch will always make the right impression.