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Cartier Skeletonise a Classic with New Santos-Dumont Skeleton Micro-Rotor Watch

Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton

It may be the first true pilots watch ever built, but Cartier’s legendary Santos Dumont is an elegant cut above your usual utilitarian, cockpit inspired timepieces harking back to the glorious, glamorous early days of aviation. It’s been a part of Cartier’s stable ever since but saw a much needed revamp in 2019. More recently, it’s been split into two distinct personalities, the ultra modern Santos de Cartier and the gorgeously classical Santos-Dumont. Now, it’s landing somewhere in the middle with the Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton.

The squared case with its visible screws is every bit last year’s Santos-Dumont, a more streamlined, refined take on the silhouette compared to the Santos de Cartier. The difference is that there’s nothing classical about the newly skeletonised 9629 MC automatic calibre, through which you can see right out the back of the watch. Be warned if you don’t like the sight of your own wrist.

Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton

A good part of that visibility is thanks to the use of a microrotor instead of the usual, massive weight most automatics use. In this instance however, even the Santos-Dumont Skeleton’s microrotor is special. It’s been given an aesthetic overhaul to look exactly like the Demoiselle, an aircraft designed by Mr. Santos Dumont himself, flying over the Earth. It’s a fantastic little touch and the kind of inventive flair we’ve come to expect from Cartier.

Elsewhere, the entire movement is on show, held in place by just a few bridges doubling as indexes. In fact, you can pretty much see all of the 212 components and two years of work lavished on the new movement. It’s stunning – in whichever version you opt for.

Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton

There are three variations on the theme. In the non limited sector you have one in steel and another in rose gold, both with matching bezels and bridges. They’re architectural, innovative and incredibly good looking. However, there’s then the yellow gold limited edition. The difference here is that the bezel, bridges and shape of the case – everything bar the screws and the edges in fact – has been gone over by hand with deep blue lacquer. It’s a level of precision bordering insanity, but makes for a breath taking version of a horological icon.

Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton
Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton

The downside to the yellow gold is that it’s limited to 150 pieces. That’s not too small a number for this kind of piece, but it’s still a small enough batch that you’ll need to get in there pretty quickly to nab one. Otherwise, the steel is perfectly handsome as a back up, particularly on its grey alligator skin for a more monochromatic look.

There’s plenty more to come from Cartier this year – of course there is, it’s Cartier – so stay tuned. For now, just enjoy the Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton as a fantastically finished take on a classic. We will be.

Price & Specs:

  • Model: Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton
  • Case/dial: 31mm diameter x 8mm thickness, yellow gold, rose gold or stainless steel case
  • Water resistance: 30m (3 bar)
  • Movement: Cartier calibre 9629 MC, automatic
  • Frequency: 25,200 vph (3.5 Hz)
  • Power reserve: 44h
  • Functions: Hours, minutes
  • Strap: Blue alligator leather with additional dark blue alligator leather strap (yellow gold), burgundy alligator leather with additional brown alligator leather strap (rose gold), blue alligator leather with additional grey alligator leather strap (stainless steel)
  • Price/availability: TBC, limited edition of 150 individually numbered pieces (in yellow gold)

About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.

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