The Cartier Santos-Dumont ‘La Demoiselle’ Limited Edition
When Cartier released a new quartz Santos-Dumont last year, it looked like it might be a nice complement to the Santos collection that got a major overhaul in 2018. But this year, we’re seeing both a new set of hand-wound Santos-Dumont watches and a trio of limited editions celebrating the watch’s namesake. It’s now a serious part of the Cartier portfolio, and for good reason. It’s a watch that presents as a dress watch in a modern context but, in many ways, it is the original pilot’s watch. It’s an all-situations player that feels strangely contemporary for something originally designed over 100 years ago.
The watch we have here is no ordinary Santos-Dumont, though. It’s an extremely limited edition created to celebrate Alberto Santos-Dumont and his most famous aircraft, La Demoiselle. In that way, it’s similar to the other LEs presented today, but it’s much more limited (only 30 pieces) and is the extra-large size instead of the large size. Its platinum case is paired with an ecru-colored dial with a woven pattern at its center that is echoed by the woven Panama-style strap, both references to Santos-Dumont’s always-present Panama hat. The Roman numerals have a silvered finish, the hands are dark black pomme hands, and the hidden Cartier signature in the «VII» has been replaced by «Santos.»
On the reverse of the case, you’ll find an engraving of La Demoiselle, along with other markings noting the mechanical movement inside, the platinum case, and the limited edition number. The cabochon in the crown is a ruby instead of the usual sapphire or spinel, something Cartier often does with its platinum limited editions. It’s a secret handshake of sorts. As if this wasn’t all enough, Cartier is packaging this watch with a special lacquered maple box, a brown alligator leather strap, a matching alligator travel case, and a special pair of Santos de Cartier cufflinks only available with this watch.
I’m all-in on this watch. I was a big fan of the Santos-Dumont models when they were introduced last year (and I’m now the owner of one too), so that probably comes as no surprise. But looking past the obvious, I think Cartier’s designers did an exceptional job figuring out what to make special and what to keep standard. The basketweave pattern at the dial’s center references the guilloché center of many Cartier dials and the pomme hands are just a tad more refined than the sword hands. And that «Santos» signature hidden in the «VII» where the «Cartier» would normally go? Don’t even get me started on how cool that is. We’ll be here all day.
If there’s one thing I’d change about this watch, it’s the size. I’m yet to see an «extra-large» Santos-Dumont in the metal, so I’ll reserve final judgment until then, but I think this is a design that’s extremely successful at smaller sizes. Even at the «large» size of the other limited editions from this year, I’d be a hair more excited, but I’m willing to look past it because of the other details. Considering the size of a brand like Cartier, a limited edition of 30 pieces is truly limited (this isn’t some «3,000 pieces» gimmick), and this is sure to become a real collectors’ piece down the line as a result. Of all the watches released this week, this is one of the top two or three on my «must see ASAP» list.
Model: Santos-Dumont ‘La Demoiselle’ Limited Edition
Dimensions: 46.6mm x 33.9mm («Extra-Large» Size)
Case Material: Platinum with ruby cabochon in crown
Dial Color: Ecru with central weave pattern
Indexes: Arabic numerals
Strap/Bracelet: Panama fabric strap and brown alligator leather strap both included
Additional Details: Watch is sold in a lacquered maple collector’s box with an alligator leather travel pouch and a pair of white gold and red tiger eye Santos de Cartier cufflinks. These accessories cannot be purchased separately and only come with this limited edition watch.