Even within the company, there are people who wonder how he manages to keep on top of everything. The answer is simple: nothing leaves Cartier without having been subjected to his scrutiny. Pierre Rainero is the guardian of Cartier’s image and style; he’s responsible for the continuity of its legacy. It’s a huge task. The role itself is virtually unique in the industry. The only comparable example is that of Emmanuel Breguet, who exercises similar vigilance to ensure that the manufacture’s timepieces respect the spirit and the letter of his ancestor’s wishes.
And yet, the exercise is paradoxical. Where Cartier’s latest great horological reveal is concerned, Pierre Rainero was only marginally involved. The Santos is to 2018 what the Panthère was in 2017: a reissue whose original design was so perfect that it needed virtually no retouching. “All that matters is that it is a beautiful object,” Pierre Rainero explains. “We don’t have any marketing considerations. We don’t think in terms of targets. What’s important to us is that we create a piece that suits the circumstances in which it will be worn.”
Santos skeleton watch, pink gold, QuickSwitch interchangeable straps.Manual movement 9619 MC © Cartier
Entire books are written about Cartier Watches Wiki Replica and even about the Cartier Tank watch itself, and also the basic story that Louis Cartier based the Tank design on the shape of WWI tanks found in the Western Front is most likely familiar to many readers. Cartier made clocks, pocket watches, and women’s wristwatches before wristwatches for men began to catch on – and if men did begin to wear wristwatches, Cartier played a significant role in their broader adoption and the Cartier Tank was an increasingly significant part the transition out of pocket into wrist.The initial wristwatch for men is occasionally believed to be the Cartier Santos out of 1904, made by Louis Cartier – at least this started to help enhance men’s wristwatches. It was surely one of the earliest watches designed as a wristwatch, instead of a pocket watch adapted with straps for the wrist, or “strap watch.” Called a “silly ass fad” by some round the early part of the 1900s (that I find beautiful), men’s wristwatches still needed the time to be approved by the mainstream. In 1916, The New York Times admitted that wristwatches were a passing craze, and WWI watched soldiers starting to strap watches to their wrists for practical reasons.Louis Cartier (1875–1942) made a number of watches which are still part of Cartier’s lineup today, such as the Santos, Tank, and Tortue. At the time Louis perhaps thought the future of wristwatches supposed non-round cases. This would also help distinguish them in the round pocket watches that had just been adapted to your wrist. In 1919, a total of six Tank watches were created, but an icon had been established, and new variations have followed regularly since – you can see more about early twenties along with other ancient Cartier men’s watches here.
Santos for a day, Santos forever
So what is the positioning of the new Santos? Pierre Rainero continues: “That’s not really the word I would use – ‘positioning’. Let’s keep things simple, and say that the Santos is a watch for everyday elegance. It has a sporty spirit, but it would be equally at home at a cocktail party.” In other words, it’s a contemporary watch that is marginally more chic than sporty.
To achieve this result, Cartier has made some subtle changes to the 2018 Santos: “We revised the proportions of the bezel. That had the effect of opening up the dial,” explains Pierre Rainero. “That’s one of the advantages of modern pieces. When the Santos was designed, in 1904, watch crystals were not as strong as the sapphire used today. At the turn of the century dials were much smaller, because if the crystal was too big it became too fragile. Today, we have the ability to create big sapphire crystals that remain very strong. The new Santos makes the most of that.”
Santos watch yellow gold & steel. QuickSwitch interchangeable straps. Automatic movement 1847 MC © Cartier
From one bracelet to another
Another major innovation is that the 2018 Santos is the first in its long history to come with both a metal bracelet and a leather strap. “The watch tells two stories,” Pierre Rainero explains. “Up to now, you’d have either a metal bracelet (gold or steel), or leather. Today they are sold together and, what’s more, they are interchangeable for the first time, no tools required.”
This versatility didn’t come without a price, however. “We didn’t want to mess with the profile of the lugs. So we had to rework our new bracelets so that they would fit,” and that includes the attachment system. In fact, the Santos is not the first Cartier watch to be sold with two straps – that honour goes to the (late lamented) Roadster in 2002. But that doesn’t detract from the 2018 Santos, which remains a remarkable piece, particularly given that it was designed over a century ago, and has remained virtually unchanged ever since. As Pierre Corneille said, “For souls nobly born, valour awaits not the passing of years.”
Santos steel watch. QuickSwitch interchangeable straps. Automatic movement 1847 MC © Cartier