​Flight and Fancy: Rediscovering the Santos de Cartier

​Flight and Fancy: Rediscovering the Santos de Cartier

Oct 28th 2022

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Heir to a coffee empire, Brazilian aeronaut and socialite Alberto Santos-Dumont dedicated his life to aircraft development. However, he needed a way to calculate time in the cockpit that didn't involve the tedious and sometimes dangerous task of pulling a watch from his pocket. Fortunately, he possessed a brilliant friend named Louis Cartier. In 1904 their partnership conceived what would later be known as the Santos, the first pilot's watch ever created. In 1911, Cartier began producing the timepiece for clients of their Paris boutique. Since then, this pioneering wristwatch has become an icon, defined by its geometric dial and signature exposed screws, epitomizing the philosophy of Cartier watchmaking that would follow.

Its design boasted its functional abilities while effortlessly adapting to any occasion. Pioneers of aviation and fashion could gauge time from the heavens or the ballroom. The piece is minimal, with precise proportions and purposeful details. Like everything Cartier touches, it is timeless, fitting into today's scene as easily as it did in the early 1900s. Cartier has reimagined the watch dozens of times over the last 100 years. Still, the signature has never wavered: roman numerals around a train-track-styled seconds indicator, square case, and exposed screws on the bezel. No matter the metal or strap material, a Santos is always instantly recognizable.

Schedule your appointment within our Highland Park boutique to shop our Cartier collection in person.