Back when aviation was still in its infancy, pilots had very little instrumentation to rely on even for simple tasks such as flying time lapsed or minutes left before the tanks go dry. Many pioneering aviators took their pocket watches with them to help keep track of time but it wasn’t easy to pull out a pocket watch in an open cockpit being buffeted by winds let alone read the time while trying to maintain control of an ungainly flying machine. This just happened to be one of the flying stories Santos-Dumont happened to mention to his friend Louis Cartier in 1901. This conversation led to Cartier to design the very first aviation-centric wristwatch in 1904 which we now refer to as the Cartier Santos-Dumont Watch. It gained popularity in the 1980s and soon thereafter many different iterations came about.
The Cartier Santos-Dumont watch you see here is has been redesigned to be closer to the original Santos-Dumont watch (circa 1978) with its signature contoured case and clean lines and unadorned elegance. The watch carries an “XL” designation but at 46.6mmX33.9mm with a thickness of just 7.5mm, it sits comfortably on the wrist. The wide dial offers a clear and legible view of the sword-shaped hands as well and the detail of the satin-finished sunray dial. Turning over the watch reveals an engraved caseback with the initials S-D, the signature of Alberto Santos-Dumont.
Unlike the previous year’s quartz offerings, this year’s Cartier Santos-Dumont XL is powered by Cartier’s manufacture 430 MC mechanical hand wound movement. Oscillating at 21,600 vibrations per hour, the movement is capable of storing 38 hours of power in reserve.
While we are particularly drawn to the steel version, an 18K pink gold and 18K pink gold and steel versions available.