The Santos de Cartier Chronograph

The Santos de Cartier Chronograph
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In the realm of luxury watches, few names resonate as distinctly as Cartier. Renowned for its rich history of crafting timepieces that combine elegance with innovation, Cartier has remained a beacon of sophistication in the horological world. Among its illustrious lineup, the Santos de Cartier stands out as a pioneering symbol of modern watchmaking. This review delves deep into the latest iteration of this iconic series, the Santos de Cartier Chronograph WSSA0017, exploring its features, design, and historical significance while drawing personal parallels with past models like the Cartier Tank Française Chronograph.

Cartier: a legacy of design and innovation

Cartier's journey began in 1847, when Louis-François Cartier took over the workshop of his master in Paris. The brand quickly gained fame, thanks to its exquisite craftsmanship and innovative designs. By the early 20th century, Cartier had become a household name in the realms of fine jewelry and watchmaking.

The creation of the Santos watch in 1904 marked a pivotal moment in Cartier's history. It was developed for the Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, who needed a practical way to tell time while flying. This led to the birth of one of the first wristwatches, which not only catered to the technical needs of aviators but also kicked off the trend of wristworn timepieces, shifting away from the traditional pocket watches.

The original Santos watch was characterized by its square case, Roman numerals, and visible screws on the bezel—features that have come to define the Santos collection. Its design was revolutionary, emphasizing readability and robustness, which were crucial for the early aviators.

Over the decades, the Santos has undergone various transformations, each reflecting the technological advancements and aesthetic shifts of its era. Despite these changes, the collection has always stayed true to its original ethos of blending functionality with style.

Design and aesthetics

The Santos de Cartier Chronograph WSSA0017 features an extra-large model that makes a bold statement while maintaining the classic elegance of the original design. The watch comes with a 43.3 mm case made of steel and ADLC (Amorphous Diamond-Like Carbon), giving it a sleek, matte finish that is both scratch-resistant and very modern in appearance.

The case's square shape, with rounded edges, is instantly recognizable as a hallmark of the Santos collection. The opaline dial is adorned with Roman numerals, maintaining the traditional Cartier style. The sword-shaped hands are coated with luminescent material, ensuring visibility in all conditions.

The fixed bezel is secured with eight screws, a signature feature that has been part of the Santos aesthetic since its inception. This not only enhances the watch's rugged appeal but also pays homage to its industrial origins.

Automatic movement: excellence in engineering

The Santos de Cartier Chronograph WSSA0017 is powered by the Manufacture Caliber 1904-CH MC, a testament to Cartier's expertise in watchmaking. This movement is a significant element of the watch, encapsulating the brand's commitment to reliability, precision, and sophistication in mechanical chronographs.

Features of the 1904-CH MC movement

  • Vertical clutch: The inclusion of a vertical clutch in the 1904-CH MC ensures smooth operation of the chronograph function. This feature is crucial for enhancing the longevity of the movement, as it minimizes wear on the mechanism when the chronograph is activated.
  • Column wheel: The presence of a column wheel enhances the precision of the chronograph's start, stop, and reset functions. This traditional feature is highly regarded among watch enthusiasts for its reliability and the tactile feedback it provides through the pushers.
  • Linear reset hammer: The linear reset hammer guarantees that all the chronograph hands reset to zero flawlessly and instantaneously. This component not only adds to the mechanical allure of the Santos Chronograph but also ensures optimal functionality and user experience.

Advantages of the automatic movement

The Caliber 1904-CH MC is an automatic movement, meaning it harnesses energy through the wearer’s natural wrist movements. This eliminates the need for daily manual winding and provides the convenience that aligns well with the lifestyles of modern watch wearers. Moreover, the movement's design reflects Cartier's dedication to creating not just visually stunning timepieces but also mechanically superior ones.

The Santos de Cartier Chronograph's movement is not just a component; it is the heart of the watch. It exemplifies the blending of traditional watchmaking techniques with modern technology, ensuring that the watch not only tells time but tells it with impeccable accuracy and stability. The Caliber 1904-CH MC stands as a robust foundation of the Santos de Cartier Chronograph, bringing to life its functions with elegance and efficiency, making each moment not just measured but also memorable.

The heptagonal crown, set with a faceted synthetic spinel, is flanked by two pushers that control the chronograph functions. Their tactile feedback is precise, offering a satisfying click with each press.

The WSSA0017 comes with interchangeable rubber and leather bracelets, enhancing its versatility. The rubber bracelet, in particular, reflects the modern trend towards more casual, durable watch straps and is perfect for everyday wear.

As someone with a 19cm wrist, the curve of the Santos case hugs the wrist comfortably, a marked improvement in ergonomics compared to the often too-small feel of the older 28mm Tank Française. The 43.3 mm case width of the Santos feels perfectly proportioned, offering a substantial presence without overwhelming the wrist.

While the rubber and leather options are well-executed, the absence of a stainless steel bracelet option is notable, especially considering the versatility and popularity of steel bracelets in watches like the CRW2SA0008. A steel band would not only provide an additional style option but also resonate with those who appreciate the heft and durability of metal bracelets.

A Modern Classic Reinvented

The Santos de Cartier Chronograph WSSA0017 brilliantly encapsulates the essence of its storied lineage while embracing modern needs and preferences. It is a testament to Cartier's

commitment to innovation and elegance, blending historical significance with contemporary functionality. For enthusiasts of both aviation and luxury timepieces, the Santos WSSA0017 offers a unique combination of heritage, performance, and style.

In reflecting on personal experiences with Cartier's creations, from the timeless appeal of the Tank Française to the bold presence of the new Santos, it is clear that Cartier continues to set the design standard in the world of luxury watches. Whether soaring through the skies or navigating the complexities of modern life, the Santos de Cartier remains not just a timekeeper, but a symbol of enduring elegance and pioneering spirit.