The History of a Cult Classic

Alberto Santos-Dumont: Photo by Fédération Aéronautique Internationale 

The History of a Cult Classic 

Make no mistake – while Cartier was and still is the ‘Jeweller of Kings, and The King of Jewellers’, you’d be remiss to overlook their role in watchmaking. Claiming the most coveted title in the history of any watch brand, Cartier is the purveyor of the first luxury wristwatch.

Man’s first wristwatch took flight in 1904 with renowned Brazilian pilot and adventurer, Alberto Santos-Dumont. The pilot found flying with a pocket watch to be an impractical, cumbersome task and turned to Louis Cartier for a timepiece he could use with minimal movement.  

Enter the Santos-Dumont, an unconventional creation that cemented the foundation of the Cartier powerhouse. As watch enthusiasts would know – the rest was horological history.  

The first Santos Dumont: Photo by A Blog To Watch

A precursor to the art deco movement, the Santos-Dumont was geometric in design with screws on both the bezel and bracelet, a rounded dial, and Roman numerals. A nod to modern machinery and the rivets on an aircraft, this watch dared to bare the one thing watchmakers hid: screws. 

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