Apr 9, 2020 | Updated on: Sep 18, 2020
 2 minutes

Chrono24 Brand Week: How Cartier Invented the Wristwatch With the Santos!

By Pascal Gehrlein
Stylish and Sporty: The Cartier Santos 100

Stylish and Sporty: The Cartier Santos 100

During this brand week, like every other, we’re turning our full attention to just one brand. This time, it’s the luxury brand that came out with the first pilot’s watch and the first wristwatch with a leather strap and metal closure in 1904 – many, therefore, consider them to be the progenitor of the “wristwatch category.” Of course, we’re talking about Cartier. 

In this video, our focus is on the Cartier Santos 100, an excellent watch that embodies what makes Cartier so special. We discuss what sets the Cartier Santos apart from its competitors in the steel sports watch category. 

This watch is a must-have, particularly for men with a keen fashion sense. That has a lot to do with the luxury brand itself. The watch’s origin story involving aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont is certainly one of the most commonly told tales in the watch world. As a pilot, Santos-Dumont imagined a watch that was both robust and easy to read. At the time (1904, to be exact), men’s wristwatches were rather uncommon. However, Louis Cartier and Santos-Dumont were convinced that this watch had the potential to usher in a new era. So, Cartier designed the everyman’s watch, and Dumont was – in modern terms – his influencer. The result is now considered the first wristwatch (and pilot’s watch) ever. During the Second World War and the following decades, round cases were in vogue, and the Cartier Santos faded somewhat into obscurity. However, it never disappeared completely, making a comeback in the 1970s and 80s. This was undoubtedly helped by Audemars Piguet “inventing” the luxury sports watch category with the Royal Oak. With its distinctive rectangular steel case, wide bezel, and exposed screws, the Santos soon found fans in the same market sector. Going by the name Santos de Cartier, this model was much sportier than the original. First released as a two-tone watch, the steel version followed soon thereafter, and the Santos established itself as a true fashion piece.

Recognizability, a rich history, and the option to wear it with either a leather strap or a multi-link steel bracelet make this watch a real all-rounder. That’s why we thought it deserved a closer look! What’s your take? Is the Cartier Santos the ultimate steel sports watch?

Read more

The Design Development of the Cartier Santos

The History of Watchmaking: Cartier’s Milestone Watches

Top 5 Women’s Watches Under $3,000


About the Author

Pascal Gehrlein

Hi, I'm Pascal. After spending many hours searching for my first luxury watch on Chrono24, I ended up visiting their "Legal details" page and saw their headquarters …

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