Watch Review

A Perfect Pair: His & Her Cartier Santos 100 Watches

Paul Altieri

When Louis Cartier designed a wristwatch in 1904 for his aviator friend, Alberto Santos-Dumont, he essentially laid the groundwork for what would become one of Cartier’s signature timepieces. Over the years, Cartier has offered the Santos in countless variations for both men and women. Today we are looking at a matching set of Cartier Santos 100 watches – the perfect gift for the watch-loving couple! 

Cartier Santos 100

One Hundred Years of Cartier Santos

The premise of the inaugural Santos watch was simple; rather than having to deal with a cumbersome pocket watch during flight, a wristwatch would permit the pilot to merely glance at his wrist when necessary, leaving both hands free for steering. This may seem like an obvious choice today, but during an era when pocket watches were standard for men and wristwatches (or wristlets as they were called then) were reserved for women, the Santos wristwatch was truly revolutionary.

Cartier Santos 100 Large

Cartier teamed up with movement maker Edmond Jaeger to manufacture the Santos watch on a larger scale and the first serially-produced Cartier Santos went on sale in 1911. As they say, the rest is history. 

To celebrate the centenary of the watch in 2004, Cartier introduced the Santos 100. From the rounded square bezel with exposed screws to the black Roman numerals and rail minute track, the Santos 100 anniversary watches keep the fundamentals of the original design but boast plenty of modern details too. 

Cartier Santos 100 Medium

 

His and Her Cartier Santos 100 Watches

In true Cartier fashion, La Maison offered the Santos 100 models in varying sizes, allowing for a tailored fit on wrists of any gender. Cartier has always been fantastic at making androgynous watch designs and the Santos 100 is no exception. Although the Santos was originally made as a men’s timepiece, the watch’s elegant lines and timeless design are not specific to any gender today.  

Both steel automatic models, the biggest difference between the medium and large Santos 100 watches are their case sizes. The large Cartier Santos 100 sports a case that measures 41.3 x 51.1mm while the case of the medium Cartier Santos 100 measures 35.6 mm x 44.2 mm. 

Large Cartier Santos 100

The time-only silvered opaline dials are identical with luminescent black oxidized steel sword-shaped hands at the center. Also note the secret Cartier signature embedded into the VII marker. Both sizes of Santos 100 watches are fitted with alligator leather straps equipped with robust, yet comfortable folding steel buckles; however colors vary between sizes. Additionally, the exposed screws on the buckles are a nice touch, echoing the Santos’s signature screws on its bezel. 

Not only does the Santos watch continue to be part of the Cartier catalog well over a century after its debut, but it is also one of the brand’s top selling models. Additionally, as it was first made for Alberto Santos-Dumont to use while flying, the Santos can also be considered the very first pilot’s watch. Plus, the fact that it looks equally good on a man’s or a woman’s wrist is a testament to the Santos’ impeccable design.

Cartier Santos 100

Paul Altieri

Celine is a luxury watch writer here for us at Bob's Watches who has enjoyed working in the horology industry for over ten years. Like many of the high-end timepieces she writes about, she comes from Switzerland—the heart of fine watchmaking. From Singapore to Montreal to Geneva to Dubai to Amman, Celine has lived all over the world but now calls the beaches of Southern California home.