Cartier is well-known for its stylish, slimline dress watches. Among the many elegant forms, the Santos collection often stands-out as an edgier take on the classic form. Now, in an attempt to further modernize a model that was birthed more than a century ago, the Cartier Santos Dumont XL hits the shelves.

Living up to 116 years of heritage is no mean feat. In 1904, Louis Cartier created the very first Santos model for his friend and aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. This “large” square model has seen quite a few overhauls in its time and the latest focuses on increasing the diameter while keeping the model as thin as can be. The original style is largely retained, with the Breguet-style hands dropped in favor of the sharper, more contemporary tie-shaped indicators. I’m a fan of that change. In fact, in spite of myself (and a huge dollop of initial skepticism) I’m a big fan of this “big” watch.

A manual heart

Increasing the diameter of such a classic and identifiable model while retaining its character (and keeping it slim) is not easy. The most recent editions of the Santos Dumont (from last year) were powered by quartz for this reason. With this release, Cartier returns to the mechanical, employing the 430 MC mechanical movement for the three most interesting models in this new release. In addition to the three mechanical Santos Dumont XL watches, the collection is further bolstered by three quartz variants for men and another two for women. The quartz options intended for men are indistinguishable from the mechanical versions from the front.

This release is a real treat for dedicated collectors of Cartier or fans of aviation. The case backs of these new pieces will be engraved with the signature “S=D” — the initials of the renowned aviator in the style he favored.


A powerful statement

Although the new Cartier Santos Dumont XL watches are not the largest square watches ever produced by the brand, they make a powerful statement on the wrist regardless. These models measure 33.9mm across and boast a lug-to-lug length of 46.6mm. The diagonal of a full square with this diameter would come in at just under 48mm, so the wrist presence of these watches is significant. At just 7.5mm thick, however, the watches wear wide and flat. They are, despite their size, excellent watches to be worn with a suit given these proportions.

The slimness of the watch ensures it sits down neatly against the wrist…

The watch case appears curved thanks to the specially-shaped bezel and the drop-off lugs. It is, as one can better appreciate from the side, however, flat. The slimness of the watch ensures it sits down neatly against the wrist, while the clever use of more organic angles in the case profile reduces the visual weight of this model without diminishing its impact.



The Cartier Santos Dumont XL comes in three case/bezel options. Customers can choose from three options. Firstly, there is a full 18-karat pink gold case and bezel combo (€12,500). Secondly, a fully stainless steel version is offered (€4,700). And, finally, the third option has a stainless steel body and rose gold bezel (€6,500). The crowns of all three watches are set with a synthetic spinel cabochon. Alligator leather straps in either black or navy blue complete the look. It is a worthy and welcome addition to a time-honored collection. Additionally, it is a watch I’m keen to get on my own wrist someday. I’ll let you know how that pursuit bears out… Learn more about the brand here.

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