Thoughts on My Cartier Santos 100
Cartier is a design powerhouse in high jewelry. However, the brand holds a special place in wristwatch history and the collective minds of watch buyers for also having accomplished so much in watch design.
It’s often recounted how Louis Cartier popularized wrist watches for men by creating a special watch for his aviator friend Santos Dumont in 1904.
A hundred years later, the French luxury brand released the centenary anniversary edition of the watch in a bold amorphous diamond like carbon version of the original Santos watch called the Santos 100.
I’ll be brutally honest and reveal three important biases (some facts) that I have about this watch. First, it’s the third good (expensive) luxury item I have ever gotten myself. Over 7 years now.
Second, I’ve always wanted a Cartier watch as they are often seen (for good or bad reasons) as a “lady magnet”. True to that reputation, for the many years I have owned it, it’s still the watch that gets me the most compliments from the fairer sex.
And third, I have a love affair with this watch still and will never sell it. It’s likely the watch most associated with me if you know me personally and hangout with me for a while.
So what is so special about the Santos 100 to make it deserve this special place and status in my collection? Well, to start with, the bold and black and rose gold look. These color combinations work well with people with my skin complexion and perfectly suited to my sense of style.
When and Where to Wear?
Moreover, while somewhat delicate (gold is a soft metal) and of high contrast, it’s a watch that works well with jeans but dresses up for any night out. It’s simply the perfect clubbing watch.
Not too flashy but also not too subtle. Just the perfect mix of gold, brushed carbon, and black strap to make it a watch that I often grab and strap on when going out partying.
The simple three hands and brilliant “patented” Cartier Roman numerals dial is legible enough for easy at a glance knowledge of the time.
And the fact that the sword hands have a small application of lume making it visible at night, just enough, to guess if it is time to leave a Miami nightclub for the next one.
It’s no date feature is also on point as it’s a watch I often wear in a whim and set the time closest to what I think the current time is without fuss or too much thinking.
Perhaps attempting my best impression of Andy Warhol who famously said (though of the Tank model), he wears a Cartier not because it tells time but rather because it is the thing to wear and to be seen wearing.
As a square watch the Santos 100 wears surprisingly well on wrist. I think this has to do with two important details. First, Cartier makes three sizes for the Santos line (Medium, Large, and XL). Mine is the Large model. At 38 mm on each side and 51 mm lug to lug, this variant perfectly fits my average wrist.
The other two sizes, as you would expect, are great for smaller and larger wrists respectively. The same sizes have carried over the new Santos collection announced in 2018 which includes a chronograph version (XL size) as it did when the Santos 100 was introduced in 2004.
The other reason this watch wears so well is the curvature of the back. This almost gives the Santos 100 a tonneau shape and with integrated lugs with a sail strap that is easily adjustable, it has become my most comfortable watch to wear.
Adjusting the strap is as easy as using the deployant clasp. Once open, you can pull the extra sail cloth to loosen it a bit and elongate each side. Then you fold the remaining parts under the extremities of the deployant clasp; fold the extended sail cloth under the part of the strap that will cover your wrist; and wear the watch a bit so the extra strap settles in its new position. After a few days of wearing you won’t even notice that you had adjusted it.
While the amorphous diamond like carbon (aDLC) case is brushed with beveled edges, the distinctive rose gold bezel with black screws give a bit more weight to the top. The deployant clasp includes the same finishing which balances the watch perfectly.
And it’s not a light watch by any means. With the combination of gold, carbon, and steel it stands at 120 grams which makes it a solid dressy but yet sporty watch. Cartier uses the aDLC finishing so that the case black color last longer.
And I am a testimony of that superior finishing. While the gold parts show some age, no parts of the aDLC case show any wear. It’s like new and almost like it was made of ceramic; but a lot tougher since I would not be afraid if I banged the case accidentally against a hard surface.
The curved sapphire on the 11 mm case also make it perfect on wrist as it’s not so thin to be a full dress watch (as is the Santon Dumont model) and not so thick that it could still fit under a long sleeve shirt.
Cartier uses an a big, easy to grasp, hexagonal gold crown that is not screwed in. This means that the water resistance is around 100 meters. Enough to take small splashes at the club’s washroom or soak under a Miami rain. So not a watch for serious pool outing or for the ocean.
Competing the look of the large gold crown is a black polished cabochon. A great choice by the Cartier designers since that complements the look of the watch and give it a bit more luxe look and feel, without being in your face or out of place with the design.
As a watch nerd, it is the only watch I own having spent little thoughts on its movement. In fact when I purchased it, I knew it used a rebranded ETA and I still got it. Today, paying anything more than a couple thousand of dollars for a watch with such a common movement would make me cringe.
However, the ETA movement was never an issue then and today is not either. However, I would likely purchase my next Cartier with the the in-house 1904 movement if I had to acquire another from the brand today.
The simple reason to get this watch is to realize that Cartier unlike many other watch brands makes original watch designs. They often release a new one every other year so. There are plenty to chose from.
Also, unlike many other watch brands, their designs tend to be stylish, trendy, and cool. It’s like they know how to judge the current mood of gentlemen and what works with today’s clubbing scenes and they release watches to perfectly match this mood.
For me, the Santos 100 fills all my naughty Miami-clubbing and womanizing dreams and outings and I am not too proud to admit so. And while I’ve partied with this watch, it’s also been my faithful companion at many low key social events that do not require formal attires.
Whether you like to party or clubbing or just hang out with friends and if you like to do so with stylish adornment, the Cartier Santos 100 and its many variations should be top on your list. I cannot recommend a better watch for under $10,000. cartier.com