Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition

New & Noteworthy: The Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition

In 1997, Cartier introduced the Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition in order to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Santos Dumont design—one of the true icons of the brand’s long standing collections. The brand claims a long and distinguished legacy of jewelry and watchmaking. King Edward VII of Great Britain, in the early years of the 20th century, referred to Cartier as “the jeweler of kings and the king of jewelers.” One of the most valuable “gems” set in Cartier’s crown is the Santos Dumont, and one could reasonably argue that this 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition is the crown jewel.

Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition
Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition

History

The Santos Dumont design hearkens to 1904. In that year, Louis Cartier, the grandson of Cartier’s founder, learned that his friend was unhappy about his pocket watch. The friend, Alberto Santos-Dumont, was an inventor and pilot of lighter-than-air balloons. In 1900, he won the Henri Deutsch de la Meurthe prize for fastest round-trip flight between a point west of Paris and the Eiffel Tower. Santos-Dumont was unhappy with the inconvenience of taking out his pocket watch, opening the lid, checking the time, closing the lid, and putting it back in his pocket. 

Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition
Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition

Cartier created the Santos-Dumont design as a solution. It was one of the earliest wrist watch designs specifically intended for a pilot. In addition, at that point in history, very few men had adopted the wrist watch for timekeeping. By and large, they relied upon the pocket watch. The Santos Dumont was a pioneer in many ways. The 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition version is a simultaneous celebration of friendship, innovation and adventure.

Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition
Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition

Design Details

The Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition carried forward much of the original DNA, with some important innovations. Most notable was the choice of platinum for the case. Although this precious metal is officially the choice for a 70th wedding anniversary, it is perfectly suited to the Santos Dumont 90th anniversary. The square case with rounded corners, measuring 27mm by 36mm, presents vertical satin finish offset by an interior polished bezel. Two recessed dome shapes punctuate each side of the square bezel. Other Santos-Dumont references often contain screws in these locations. 

Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition
Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition

The salmon dial is visible through a sapphire crystal. The dial’s sunburst satin finish is complemented by the rendering of the roman numerals and a minute track. The careful observer will note Cartier’s use of IIII to denote four, rather than IV, so that there is no confusion between four and six. The word Cartier is also subtly printed on one side of the V in the seven marker, an anti-counterfeit measure. The dial furniture is designed using a one-point perspective artistic technique. The canon pinion at the dial center serves as the vanishing point. Cartier paired blued sword hands with the salmon dial. In the interest of minimalism, there is no seconds hand.

Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition
Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition
×

Join 65,000+ other watch enthusiasts

See weekly new arrivals

The crown is capped by a sapphire cabochon, which is a hallmark of Cartier watch design. The satin finish on the case is punctuated by polished angled bevels on the case edges. Four polished screws on each side of the case hold the watch together and connect it to a blue alligator strap. The case is water resistant to 30 meters/100 feet. A platinum deployant buckle completes the design.

Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition
Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition

Inner Workings

The movement limitations for any thin watch are necessarily challenging. When considering the spare 4.3mm tall housing offered by the Santos Dumont 1575 case, Cartier chose a manual-wind mechanism. Consequently, there was no need to accommodate bulk from an automatic-winding weight. The ultra-thin calibre 021 MC movement, built off a Frédéric Piguet 21 base calibre, answered the call. Running at a frequency of 18,000 vibrations per hour, the movement offers a 42 hour power reserve. The dial side of this movement is finished with perlage while the bridges and mainplate are decorated with Geneva striping. 

Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition
Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition

Versus the Competition

It is particularly difficult to identify competitors to the Cartier Santos Dumont 1575. At first glance, the watch clearly fits within the dress category of fine timepieces. However, given the design’s origins in the treacherous world of competitive airflight, it is plausible to argue that the watch is also a sports design. Regardless, Cartier’s decision to produce a limited run of only 1,997 examples, along with their use of platinum, implies that the Santos Dumont 1575 is highly collectible.

Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition
Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition

Based on case material alone, the Patek Phillipe Golden Ellipse in platinum, reference 5738p, is a natural competitor to the Santos Dumont. Collectors may prefer the automatic winding in the Golden Ellipse, although it does come at some cost in terms of thickness. The Santos Dumont is 1.6mm thinner. The Ellipse also proposes a more unadorned dial design that features applied indices. The Ellipse crown is more subtle in appearance but, perhaps, more challenging to manipulate.

Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition
Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition

On price, the two are in roughly the same neighborhood. The limited run of the Santos Dumont may help ensure comparatively greater rarity with the passage of time. The Ellipse design is about six decades younger than the Santos Dumont, which also suggests that Cartier’s offering is closer to timeless. In many ways, a preference for the Ellipse or the Santos Dumont is largely a matter of taste. There is no “proper” answer to the question of blue versus salmon, or square versus oval. 

Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition
Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition

Personality

The Santos Dumont 1575 has a complex and multifaceted character. On one hand, it offers a “soft flex.” Many observers will likely conclude the watch is steel when, in actuality, it is made of one of the most rare and collectible materials in watchmaking. In a luxury field crowded by numerous well-known and well-worn designs, the Santos Dumont is differentiated through heritage and brand reputation. Cartier’s numerous watch designs, ranging from the Tank to the Crash, have enjoyed a recent renaissance, of sorts. They are increasingly in vogue and sought-after by collectors. For this reason, the Santos Dumont 1575 also offers an opportunity to join an exciting and dynamic community of enthusiasts.

Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition
Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition

Final Thoughts

The Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Platinum Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition represents a type of versatility which is rare in watchmaking. Its design is now more than a century old, but it is not dated. Enthusiasm for the Santos Dumont aesthetic is strong, as more than 74,000 Instagram posts have been tagged with #cartiersantosdumont (more than 100X the number of posts tagged with #patekphilippeellipse). The watch is equally at home in both formal and informal settings. It occupies an important place in history as one of the earliest wristwatches specifically designed for adventuresome activity. For all these reasons, the Santos Dumont 1575 has earned its spot among collections of almost any variety.

See More of the Cartier Santos Dumont 1575 Ultra Thin Special Limited Edition

Visit Europeanwatch.com