The Aerial & Bold New Cartier Santos-Dumont Micro-Rotor
A skeletonised version of the Santos-Dumont with a unique aviation-inspired micro-rotor.
Louis Cartier designed the iconic Santos watch in 1904 for pioneering Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. Revisited over the years, the three Santos-Dumont models for 2023 respect many of the original’s design cues but strike a modern chord with their skeletonised movements. Available in steel, pink gold and a limited edition in a yellow gold case with blue lacquer, the Santos-Dumont is equipped with a new, specifically developed automatic skeletonised movement with a unique micro-rotor that pays homage to the aviator.
Having designed 22 flying machines, including his elegant 1908 monoplane known as La Demoiselle, Alberto Santos-Dumont and Louis Cartier shared a passion for machines and mechanics. In 1904 Louis Cartier presented Santos-Dumont with the first purpose-designed wristwatch with a solid, rounded square case and rivets on the bezel. A precursor of the clean lines that would mark the Art Deco period, the dial featured bold blackened Roman numerals, a chemin de fer (railway) minute counter and a sapphire cabochon in the crown, features that have become iconic attributes of so many Cartier watches.
The latest Santos-Dumont models, with their rounded square cases, eight screws in the bezel and pointed sapphire cabochon in the beaded crown, pay tribute to their ancestor. Measuring 31.4mm across and 43.5mm long, the case flaunts a lean profile of just 8mm, just 0.7mm thicker than the lacquered Santos-Dumont models of 2022 fitted with ultra-thin hand-wound movements.
Obviously, the novelty here is the unimpeded view of Cartier’s new 9629 MC automatic skeleton calibre. Requiring almost two years of development, the 212-component movement is suspended between a network of elegantly shaped bridges that echo the square shape of the case.
The pièce de résistance is found in the large circular aperture housing the platinum micro-rotor, decorated with a delightful miniature replica of Santos-Dumont’s Demoiselle aircraft. Counterbalanced by the openworked barrel at 1 o’clock, the balance wheel is also exposed at 11 o’clock.
Although the yellow gold model features blue lacquered surfaces on the case, all three models highlight the structure of their bridges with different tones of lacquer. The pink gold model features red lacquer, and the steel version uses grey lacquer painted in the engraved grooves of the bridges. While it might not look as though there are hour indices, the square bridge in the centre of the dial is equipped with ‘arms’ that reach the bezel and function as hour markers, indicated by classic blued-steel sword-shaped hands.
Powered by the new 9629 MC calibre, the automatic movement beats at 28,800 vibrations/hour and delivers a 46h power reserve.
Availability and Price
The three Santos-Dumont Micro-Rotor models come on interchangeable alligator leather straps with an ardillon buckle. Available in September 2023, the yellow gold with blue lacquer model will retail for EUR 37,500; the pink gold for EUR 36,400; and the steel for EUR 27,900. More information at Cartier.com.
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