Hands-On: The New Santos De Cartier — A Sporty Twist Of Color For A Cartier Classic
Hidden away in the “other launches” section of the Cartier press site, the new Santos de Cartier was kept company by the new Indomptables de Cartier and the new Ballon Bleu releases. The new Santos, however, was a watch that I wrote off in my head as far too big and a bit too flashy. The first case measurement of 47.5mm told me everything I needed to know. Or so I thought… Seeing the watch in person at the Cartier touch-and-feel session at Watches And Wonders 2022 had me scratching my head. Was this the 47.5mm monster I had read about? Surely, it couldn’t be. It wasn’t half as big or flashy as I had imagined. And on the wrist, it just worked like a charm. Perhaps the second case measurement of 39.8mm (the width) should have clued me in. Either way, this is one well worth talking about.
Okay, so I’m still not 100% sold on the large Santos de Cartier. But having previously written it off in my mind with so much prejudice made for a rather pleasant surprise. My love for vintage Cartier still has me lusting after the old Santos with its square bezel and smaller size — much like the one that our very own Daan owns that he wrote about here. But sometimes it’s all about expectations. And when you somehow set yourself up to expect a 47mm monster but instead you find a perfectly sporty 40mm watch with buckets of Cartier charm, it’s hard not to be pleasantly surprised. I do sincerely feel that this is a watch that works better in person than on paper. And though it won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, I still think it deserves for us to take a closer look.
The New Santos De Cartier
Cartier has featured a number of sportier models in its lineup for quite some time now. And though to most of us the brand is synonymous with small, elegant, classic dress watches, its ambitions certainly don’t end there. Watches like the Drive, the Calibre, and even the Pasha have offered sportier alternatives to all the dressier models. The Santos de Cartier has always been the bridge between these two pillars. It offers — depending on the size and materials — an undeniably sporty yet also quite dressy option. Put it on leather, and you have a perfect dress watch. Keep it on the steel bracelet, and it won’t look out of place with a suit or with Bermudas and an Oxford shirt with its sleeves rolled up. Its appeal and versatility are undeniable.
So, what we see with this latest release is Cartier’s designers taking things a step further into the sporty side of things. And can you blame them? Even A. Lange & Söhne gave its collector’s a sportier option with the titanium Odysseus. The Santos, with its steel case and bracelet, 100 meters of water resistance, and sweet-spot size of the larger model was the perfect watch for Cartier to get summer-ready. As you can see, the brand did so by adding a splash of blue PVD to the bezel and a matching rubber strap with the practical QuickSwitch system. And as odd as it may seem to wear a Cartier while sailing, golfing, swimming, or anything other than sipping martinis at a hotel bar, the new Santos is perfect for any of these.
On the wrist
Having had a brief chance to wear the new Santos de Cartier, I was pleasantly surprised by how nicely it curves over the wrist. The relatively long 47.5mm lug-to-lug is not as noticeable as you might imagine. And the way in which the bracelet (or strap) seems to flow from the bezel really helps to reduce the watch’s perceived size. At 39.8mm, the width of the case is a far more accurate indicator of how large the watch feels. And though I’d personally go for the mid-size Santos, I still feel that this sportier take on the model really does suit this larger size. The final dimension, the height of the case, is just 9.37mm. This means that the watch is incredibly slim, especially for one powered by an automatic movement — Cartier’s 1847 MC.
Out of the two, the winner for me is the silver-dialed variant. It gives the watch a certain lightness, improves the legibility of the dial, and is more summer-appropriate. When it comes to the matter of strap or bracelet, I was very impressed by both. The rubber strap is comfortable and integrates beautifully with the blue outline of the horizontally striped blue bezel. On the other hand, the steel bracelet provides a sleek and elegant look. Thanks to the QuickSwitch system, you won’t struggle to swap from one to the other. The only challenge will be picking which one to wear for the day. The blue-dialed model is still a handsome watch, but when it comes to a dark-dialed Santos, my choice would be the version with the black ADLC bezel.
This new Santos was another pleasant surprise from Cartier’s long list of releases this year. Sure, it’s perhaps the most divisive of the lot. But if you find yourself on the fence with this model, head over to a Cartier boutique and see it in the metal. It certainly changed my mind and quickly became one that I had a hard time taking off. And no, that’s not due to the great deployant clasp on the riveted rubber strap. Those do make it literally quite hard to remove a watch from time to time. With Cartier, however, even the smallest details are refined, and the buckle on the rubber strap operates perfectly with a quality feel.
At the time of writing, it appears as though this new Santos de Cartier has not made it onto the brand’s website in all countries yet. It is, however, listed on Cartier’s US site for a price of $7,800 before tax. For now, follow this link for more information.
What are your thoughts on the new Santos de Cartier? Is it one step too far on the sporty side? Or is it a perfect Cartier to rock all summer long? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
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