French Maison Cartier had humble beginnings when it was established in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier in Paris, France. Louis-François had taken over the business from his master, the jeweler Adolphe Picard, who assisted in moving the premises to a more prime location which was to serve Cartier well in the coming years.
Over the years, his sons and grandsons inherited the family business and expanded the brand by opening shops in New York and London. King Edward VII of the United Kingdom granted the French Maison a prestigious royal warrant in 1904, calling the brand ‘The jeweler of kings and the king of jewellers’. Such was the renown of Cartier, that royal warrants soon rolled in from all over the world (among which, Belgium, Egypt, Greece, Siam, Spain, Portugal, and Russia).
Louis Cartier, grandson of the founder, revolutionised timepieces when he introduced the Santos watch in 1904. © Ministère de la Culture – Médiathèque du Patrimoine, Dist. RMN / Atelier de Nadar
While Cartier is known primarily for its jewellery, it also has a storied history in watchmaking. Cartier’s first foray in watchmaking came in 1888, offering exclusively ladies models. In 1904, Louis Cartier gave his friend and Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos Dumont a wrist watch to wear during his flights. Until then, wrist watches were worn exclusively by women and men opted for the traditional pocket watch. The ‘Santos-Dumont’ was not only the first wristwatch geared towards men but also the first pilot’s watch!
According to Maison Cartier, it is the portrait of a modern man and the product of experimentation by two visionaries and friends, Louis Cartier and Alberto Santos-Dumont.
Of course, we’re talking about the Cartier Santos. The first purpose-designed, modern wrist watch that was created after pioneer of aviation Alberto Santos-Dumont complained about his difficulty checking the time on his pocket watch while flying.
This super slim piece was made by Cartier back in the year 1990 after the original model, carries reference 1575 and has this time a platinum case with a size of 29 x 29 millimeter, with rivet design, sapphire-set crown, to a black alligator leather strap
This Santos’ dial design is exactly the one we are familiar with as we’re talking about Cartier, Roman numeral markers and blue hands. On the right side of the case we’ll we’ll find the exquisite blue sapphire crown that definitely completes this iconic Cartier masterpiece.
This manual timeless classic is available at Amsterdam Vintage Watches.