Hello everyone! In this article, I’ll be shining a spotlight on my recent watch acquisition, the Santos de Cartier Medium (ref. WSSA0029).

This is essentially a series where I shine a spotlight on my personal purchases. I’ve previously done similar articles on my Kurono Tokyo TokiIWC Mark XVIII Le Petit PrinceTAG Heuer Monaco CAW211B, Tissot PRX Powermatic 80, and most recently Bell & Ross BR 05. Today, I’ll be showcasing the watch that replaced the BR 05 in my collection – the Santos de Cartier.

As I stated in my previous Spotlight article, I really liked the striking square case of the BR 05 and its svelte proportions. However, it occupied the same role as my Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 (both are integrated sports watches with blue dials) and I soon found it to be superfluous to my needs. Why I chose to let go of the BR 05 instead of the Tissot PRX is a simple matter of economics: the BR 05 had a significantly higher market value, which I could reinvest in other timepieces that I’m interested in. And so I decided to offload the BR 05 to make way for another slim, elegant square sports watch that I’ve eyed for the longest time – the Santos de Cartier.

Of course, there are plenty of square watches, but none with a history richer than the Cartier Santos. Developed by Cartier for Brazilian aviator Santos Dumont in 1904 – who wanted a timepiece he could wear on the wrist, as he found it was impractical to refer to a pocket watch while piloting an airship – the Santos is not only the world’s first pilot’s watch, but also the first men’s wristwatch. Its iconic square case and Roman numerals have remained unchanged for over a century, a feat that few can lay claim to. And as a watch enthusiast, I’m naturally drawn to the history and heritage of watches. After all, I own a Monaco, Speedmaster and Mark XVIII, and the Santos feels right at home alongside its fellow watchmaking icons.

Admittedly, I did struggle with deciding which Santos to get. Specifically, I was torn between the medium and large sizes of the Santos de Cartier, as well as the Santos Dumont in XL. I eventually decided to opt for the Santos de Cartier over the Santos Dumont XL as I felt the former was more versatile in nature. The Santos Dumont XL is an eminently dressy watch, which restricts the scenarios and clothing it can be paired with. In contrast, the Santos de Cartier is easy to dress up or down due to its QuickSwitch system, which allows the wearer to swap out the bracelet to a leather strap (a tan strap is included with the watch) for more formal occasions. Ultimately, I also went for the medium size over the large due to its lack of date window – which results in a cleaner look that’s truer to the 1904 original – and better proportions. Square watches generally wear larger than round watches of the same diameter, and it’s important to note that the Santos has historically been a smaller watch (for example, even the 2010s Santos Galbee XL was only 32mm in diameter). As such, the 35mm case size of the Santos de Cartier medium felt like the Goldilocks choice, and wore beautifully on my 7-inch wrist.

And unlike the previous generation Santos 100, the Santos de Cartier features an integrated bracelet that’s finely finished. It’s very comfortable on the wrist, and I actually like how the screws aren’t aligned, which gives the bracelet a sense of character. It also features some nifty tech in the form of SmartLink, which allows the wearer to size the bracelet themselves without the use of any tools. I appreciate Cartier’s innovation in the bracelet department, which is an area that most brands – by accident or design – overlook.

As the icing on the cake, the Santos de Cartier is powered by the brand’s in-house 1847 MC movement. Although it doesn’t boast any outstanding specifications – its power reserve is 40-ish hours, and beats at 4 Hz – it’s always nice to see a watch brand make the effort to develop and utilise an in-house calibre. And given the ~S$10K retail price, it’s definitely a welcomed inclusion. It’s also the first generation of Santos to feature an in-house calibre, making it somewhat special.

The newest generation Santos de Cartier is a superb all-rounder. It has a long heritage, an iconic design that strikes a perfect balance between dress and sports, a striking yet comfortable bracelet, a reliable in-house movement, and a fairly affordable price tag. With stainless steel sports watches skyrocketing in popularity and price, the Santos de Cartier looks to be a relative bargain at its sub-$10K price point. It’s versatile enough to be a one watch collection, but also sufficiently different to be a worthy addition to any collection. I personally believe the Santos de Cartier to be the best regular production watch in the brand’s current catalogue – if you’re looking to pull the trigger on your first Cartier timepiece, the Santos de Cartier would be my top recommendation.

View the Santos de Cartier here.

Santos de Cartier – Video Review

For those interested in seeing some hands-on footage of the watch, do watch my Youtube review of the Santos de Cartier below:

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P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.