Cartier launched during the Watches & Wonders 2020 a series of engraved Cartier Santos-Dumont Limited-Edition watches. Four spectacular pieces, some in very limited numbers paying a tribute to the one that led to the inventing of the first purpose-designed modern wristwatch. A watch created by a need and that achieved the rank of a symbol. Cartier Santos is one of those very rare pieces that are modern and elegant in all its decades of existence. We look today at the 500 pieces limited series Cartier “n°14 bis” Santos-Dumont.
Cartier “n°14 bis” Santos-Dumont
From all the limited series model, the Santos-Dumont “n°14 bis” would be my favourite. My choice is based on the chromatic combination of the case, bezel and dial that I find the most attractive of all.
Cartier Santos was born from the friendship of Louis Cartier and Alberto Santos-Dumont. Alberto complained to his friend Louis about the difficulties of using the pocket watch time reading during the flights. Louis’ answer was a square flat wristwatch with a signature bezel. The watches created were, and still are, loved by large numbers of Cartier’s customers. The watches were powered by movements supplied by what is now Jaeger-LeCoultre.
The name “n°14 bis” Santos-Dumont comes from one of Alberto’s plane, the number 14. Nicknamed The Bird Of Prey, was a manned canard biplane powered by a V-8 water-cooled piston engine. In 1906, it flew the first flight to be publicly witnessed by a crowd. Cartier “n°14 bis” Santos-Dumont pays a tribute to the pioneer of flight and his marvellous flight machine.
Before going further to the descriptive chapter, have a look at this wrist-roll and hands-on video:
The Santos case – a century of success
How many watches remained for decades virtually unchanged? Cartier Santos is one of the very few. The signature case adorned by the well-known square bezel and cabochon decorated crown was, at first, reserved exclusively for Mr Santos-Dumont. Later on, the watch was made available for the public.
Cartier “n°14 bis” Santos-Dumont comes in a vertical brushed case. The square-shaped case body ends with slightly bent lugs. However, the brushing remains straight, emphasizing the curvature.
All the exterior edges suffered from chamfering and a good looking polishing. The finish brings an elegant note to what will be in theory a sports pilot’s watch.
I am always surprised by the versatility of Santos watches. A leather strap makes it rather a dress piece, while a metal bracelet or rubber strap creates an utterly elegant sports look.
The “n°14 bis” Santos-Dumont is equipped with a polished steel rivets crown embellished with a blue cabochon. A distinctive note of many Cartier pieces.
The yellow gold bezel is holding a slightly raised curved sapphire crystal. Note the delicately curved lines of the Santos-Dumont.
The caseback suffered from the same vertical brushing decoration. Fixed in four screws, the case reminds of the top bezel with a raised centre. The flat surfaced was engraved with the drawings of the Santos-Dumont “n°14 bis” plane. The laser-etched drawing was black lacquered.
The front view of the aircraft is surrounded by the Cartier logo, serial number, the mentions of the mechanical movement and limited edition. The back of the watch also reveals the fast strap change system of the grey strap.
Cartier “n°14 bis” Santos-Dumont grey dail
The number 14 was fitted with a sunray anthracite grey dial. A rare choice. Those familiar with the Cartier piece will find the dear familiar feeling of Cartier dials.
The dial is split into three regions: the outer rectangular minutes’ rail-track, the slender Roman numerals hour indexes and the mid-region bearing the brand’s name.
The time is displayed with the help of gilded steel sword-shaped hands. The sun-ray effect was not captured in the pictures but can be easily observed in the presentation video.
I find the combination of the dark grey dial, yellow gold bezel and steel case body very pleasant. Elegant with a touch of precious by adding gold. I hope everyone noticed the Cartier signature at seven o’clock. It is graciously integrated into the V.
Cartier calibre 430 MC
Cartier “n°14 bis” Santos-Dumont is powered by the manufacture movement 430 MC. The manually-wound movement is based on the Piaget’s calibre 430P. The rather slow 3Hz beating hearth offers 38 hours of power reserve. The slender dimensions, 20.50 mm diameter and 2.15 mm thickness permits a slim watch design. The movement is used in several Cartier watch models. It is nicely decorated by Cartier, but not visible under the closed back.
The grey dial is not an often sight in the Cartier lines. The colour combination was what draw my attention to this particular model of the series. On the wrist, the watch is a bliss. Comfortable and delicate, the Santos-Dumont falls heavily into the dress category and rather less into the sports watches.
Cartier “n°14 bis” Santos-Dumont is a beautiful homage to the flight pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont and Cartier’s heritage. The watch could be considered highly collectable due to its unusual combination, limited series and good price.
Cartier “n°14 bis” Santos-Dumont Technical Specification and Price
- Large model, 43.5 x 31.4 mm,
- thickness: 7.3 mm
- 18K yellow gold and steel
- Crown set with a blue synthetic spinel cabochon
- Grey alligator leather strap
- Limited edition of 500 pieces
- Manufacture mechanical manual winding movement
- Encasing diameter: 9 lines
- Total dimensions: 20.5 mm
- Thickness: 2.15 mm
- Number of jewels: 18
- Frequency: 21’600 vibrations/hour
- Power reserve: 38 hours
- CHF 6,850, incl. VAT
- € 6.750, incl. VAT
S$ 9,950, incl. GST
$7,250, excl. sales tax