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Cartier Santos 100 Ultimate Buying Guide

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Paul Altieri

Most people familiar with Cartier watches have heard of the Cartier Santos watches. The Santos line began in 1904 when Louis Cartier created a watch for his Brazilian aviator friend, Alberto Santos-Durmont.

In 1911, the brand officially launched the Santos watch. This 1911 watch had a very similar design to the one he created back in 1904.

In 2004, Cartier launched the Santos 100 collection to honor the 100-year anniversary of the original Santos watch.

The modern Santos 100 is a striking, yet sleek, watch option. People enjoy its square design and unique appearance. If you’ve been considering one or want to learn more, then this guide is for you.

In this guide, we will cover all of the important information to know before purchasing a Cartier Santos 100.

Cartier Santos 100

Key Features

Compared to some watches, the Santos 100 is not packed with exorbitant features. Part of its beauty comes from its simplicity. Here are a few of the key features this watch boasts:

Square Design

One of the most notable features of this watch is its square-shaped square dial. The square case gives it a unique and bold look.

While you may wonder about the comfort of a square watch, the Santos 100 provides a comfortable wearing experience while offering a unique look. Essentially, wearers describe it as looking square but feeling around on the wrist.

Mechanical Movement

For the Santos 100, Cartier stuck with the old, yet successful, movement, the ETA 2892-A2 (automatic winding movement). This is a safe, reliable movement that several brands use in their watches.

Unique Design Elements

There are a few other unique design elements of this watch. It originally had a screw-down case, which is quite classic. However, the exposed screws have become associated with the specific style of this watch.

While Cartier could now make the watch without the exposed screws, they have kept this design as a signature part of the case.

Cartier Santos 100 Luxury Watch

Variations and Options

There were endless ways to customize this watch. The Santos 100 offers several different variations and options, which can make any two watches look strikingly different. Here are some of the top variations available:

Case Material

Choose between several different case materials. The options include:

  • Gold
  • Stainless Steel
  • Carbon
  • Titanium
  • Black ALDC coating

The specific material can play a big role in the overall appearance of the watch. Gold or stainless steel offers a more classic, traditional look. Some of the other materials appear more modern and bold.

Cartier Santos 100 Stainless Steel

Dial Color

Dial color options for the Santos 100 are white, black, and silver. White is the most common option, giving the watch a brighter, classy look.

Black is a bold, striking option that certainly makes the watch stand out. If the black option is strategically done, it may lead to a “rarer” higher-value watch.

However, there are plenty of Santos 100 watches with white dials that are priced very high due to a combination of other features.

Strap Choices

There are several strap choices available for this watch including:

  • Gold
  • White gold
  • Steel
  • Leather (brown, black
  • Textile
  • Satin
  • Rubber

The material will certainly impact the overall appearance of the watch. Of course, the combination of all features plays the biggest role in value. Steel and gold are again more classic options. Leather or textile can make the watch appear a bit more casual and modern.

Cartier Santos 100 Sapphire Crown

Pricing and Availability

The cost of the Santos 100 varies greatly. Cartier only has one option on its website, under the “Celebration” category.

This large Santos 100 has a steel case, silver dial, and alligator-skin strap for £6,850 incl. VAT. You cannot order it directly, as you must contact Cartier.

Therefore, the majority of the Cartier Santos 100 market is for pre-owned and vintage watches. The prices range widely from around $3,000 up to around $60,000 and more.

There are several factors that influence the price of the Santos 100. A few factors include

  • Condition of the watch
  • Age of the watch
  • Pre-owned vs vintage status
  • Strap material
  • Dial color
  • Case material
  • Special additions/ rarity (diamonds, unique colors, etc.)
Cartier Santos 100 Roman Numeral Dial

Buying a Pre-Owned Cartier Santos 100

If you’re looking for a Cartier Santos 100, then pre-owned or vintage are generally your options. There are plenty of high-quality ones available. However, there are also some considerations to keep in mind when purchasing a Cartier Santos 100.

Authenticity is one concern. When ordering a watch online, it can be very difficult to tell if it is genuine or a replica, even for those who are very experienced. Of course, the last thing you want to do is spend thousands of dollars on a fake watch.

That’s why it’s so important to opt for a seller that provides an authentication guarantee. Aftermarket parts are another concern and something to be on the lookout for.

Replacing watch parts with aftermarket parts can lower its value. But, again, this is difficult to discern when buying. As part of the authentication guarantee, the watch company should ensure that they only complete repairs with authentic parts.

Customization can be another factor to consider. When buying a new watch, you get to select the variations that you want.

When buying a pre-owned or vintage watch, it comes as is. Patience is important, as the pre-owned market changes all of the time.

If you know what you’re looking for, keep watching the market and speak with the retailer to find what you are looking for.

Lastly, be sure to consider value. Since so many factors influence the prices of the watch, you want to ensure you get a good value.

Comparing several options can help you get a better idea of a fair price for the design you want. Overall, choosing the right retailer is critical when purchasing a pre-owned or vintage watch like the Cartier Santos 100.

Choose a company that provides an authentication guarantee, services watches before selling and has a strong reputation within the pre-owned watch industry. This is the best way to avoid several of the concerns above.

Cartier Santos 100 Leather Strap

Maintenance and Care

A Santos 100 watch is an investment that you want to make the most of. Taking proper care of the watch plays a huge role in its performance and longevity.

Following the recommended maintenance and cleaning protocol helps keep the watch clean and working its best for as long as possible. This makes a huge difference for personal use, but it also keeps the watch’s value as high as possible.

Here are the recommendations from Cartier:

You can clean your watch with a soft dry cloth, regardless of water resistance.

Daily Care

There are a few things that can help prevent damage and keep your watch in its top shape. Some daily care tips to follow include:

  • Remove the watch for sleeping.
  • Don’t wear the watch during sports, including tennis or golf.
  • Wear bracelets on another wrist so they do not damage your watch.
  • Keep the watch out of extreme temperatures and humidity, like steam rooms and saunas.
  • Ensure the watch bracelet is properly fitted to your wrist.


Use a soft, dry cloth to clean the watch, even if it is water-resistance. Wipe down all surfaces of the watch to remove dirt, debris, crumbs, etc.

Wiping down the watch daily is an easy way to keep it clean, and only takes a few minutes.


Cartier advises servicing the watch at least every five years. Their Complete Service includes

  • Disassembly of the watch
  • Cleaning the case and metal brackets
  • Refurbishing movement
  • Several other checks
  • Complete reassembly of the watch

Should the watch require any repair, they will let you know. You can authorize the repair or replacement of damaged components for an additional fee.

Servicing helps your watch maintain its movement and keeps it in its top working order.

Cartier Santos 100 Watch


The Cartier Santos 100 watch is a well-known part of the Santos line. Its unique history and shape make it a popular option for many people.

Its most notable feature is its square case, but many owners compliment its comfortable wear. There are plenty of different options for the watch’s appearance, as it offers multiple case materials, band types, and dial colors.

The majority of the Santos 100 market is for pre-owned or vintage watches. Based on the unique qualities of the watch, the cost of it can vary from a few thousand dollars up to over $50,000.

The materials, quality, and special editions all play a role in the value of each watch. Taking proper care of the watch helps it stay in mint condition for as long as possible.

Watch maintenance and servicing is important for daily wear, but also for resale value. If this Cartier Santos 100 buying guide sparked your interest, then certainly consider this watch. It’s a fantastic choice for many people.

Paul Altieri
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