A Trio Of Tasty Lacquer Models Turn Cartier’s Original Wristwatch Into 2024’s It-Watch
— Updated on 14 June 2024

A Trio Of Tasty Lacquer Models Turn Cartier’s Original Wristwatch Into 2024’s It-Watch

— Updated on 14 June 2024
Randy Lai
Randy Lai

Even before you start throwing around words like “collectability” and “new special order“, the Santos-Dumont is a design that comes preprogrammed with a certain bold, unmistakable aura.

Inspired by Louis Cartier’s first wristwatch design (made, famously, at the request of Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont), the Dumont sub-collection has been part of the broader Santos lineage for well over 20 years.

In 2018, the Maison decided to revitalise that connection with a permanent range of Cartier Santos-Dumonts; and, after four years of the usual product diversification, injected several lacquered models into the mix. (Like this beige boy with matching lacquer bezel, that almost broke the internet back in 2022.)

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Now, the ‘Watchmaker of Shapes’ is carrying forward this legacy: with another three lacquered Santos-Dumont models this year, two of which shall be — *cue thunderous applause* — non-limited.

Santos By Name, Suave By Nature

Cartier Santos-Dumont
Pictured: Beyond the counterrevolutionary novelty of the ‘Rewind’, this year Cartier has reimagined the classic Santos-Dumont in three lacquer-heavy executions.

Cartier’s newest Santos-Dumont creations carry forward the aesthetic popularised by its beige predecessor, though there are a handful of subtleties (beyond the distinction of colour) that help to differentiate the former.

In all three models — ‘olive green‘, ‘blue peacock‘, ‘taupe grey‘ — the dial’s previous concentric square motif has been replaced with a striking sunray-brushed effect this time around. Considering the vivid sheen of the new colourways, that’s a clever move: turning the dial into a focal point of contrast against the more matte case-top and bezel.

As in 2022, Cartier has clad those latter external surfaces with lacquered material; lending the overall design a vintage charm that’s as subtle as it is stylish. It’s a much better alternative to the fast-ageing processes many of the Maison’s competitors use to give their watches a veneer of historicity, particularly since the technique that Cartier has pioneered is so novel.

Pictured: In a now-signature move for the Maison, only 200 pieces of the ‘Olive Green’ Santos-Dumont colourway have been made globally.

Recesses around the lug and screw-down bezel are first filled with lacquer, before being carefully polished until the watch’s exterior achieves the requisite warmth and softness for which these Santos-Dumonts are known. It’s a technique that winks to Cartier’s rich heritage of “artistic professions”, in service of a visual effect that absolutely looks the business — in 2024 and beyond.

A huge element of this future-proofing can be explained by the new Santos-Dumont Lacquered’s proportions. Conceived in the spirit of the original Santos, this square design sports an almost perfect 1:1 ratio and neat-wearing dimensions (31.5mm x 43.5mm). The choice to power this Santos-Dumont with the Calibre 230MC — a no-nonsense hour-and-minute movement that is manually wound — solidifies its position in the line-up of under-the-cuff winners — Cartier’s signature specialty.

Together, this distinctive lacquer treatment and dressed-up form language make for a watch that captures the zeitgeist in 2024. Au revoir, big burly sports watches. Hello, sophisticated shapes and artsy craft.

Cartier Santos-Dumont
Pictured (left to right): The lacquered and non-limited Santos-Dumont models, in grey on yellow gold and blue on rose gold respectively.

This article is presented in partnership with Cartier. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Boss Hunting.

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Randy Lai
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].


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