Cartier Santos Dumont Mechanique

Cartier Santos Dumont Mechanique

Why We Love It

Cartier has a reputation for greatness in luxury for good reason. Their iconic watches and jewelry collections can be recognized from miles away. The Santos Dumont is one of them.

Predating the Tank Louis by nearly two decades, the original Santos model was designed in 1904, and has seen any number of iterations in the past century, including a brilliant revival in recent years.

This particular Santos dates to circa 1978 and is powered by a manual winding movement operated by the coolest winding crown of all time - a solid gold octagonal shaped piece with a sapphire cabochon! It comes fitted with the classic white Roman dial, blued steel handset and a signed black lizard strap. The case is excellent with crisp hallmarks and engravings, showing light wear throughout but no indication of polishing.

If you're Cartier-curious but the Tank Louis doesn't speak to you, a Santos Dumont might just be the watch for you!

The Cartier Story

Despite being a purveyor of haute joaillerie, Cartier has had a long tradition of making watches.

It started in 1907, when founder Louis Cartier made what was arguably the very first wristwatch for his friend Alberto Santos-Dumont. In the following years, the brand made a name for itself with its most famous wristwatch, the Tank, in all its multitudinous forms.

Cartier introduced the Tank in 1917, with a run of six pieces - given, or so the legend goes, to American General Joseph Pershing and his staff. The design of the Tank was inspired by the Renault FT-17 tanks Cartier seen on the battlefields of World War I. Cartier took the look of the Renault tank's treads and applied it to the lugs, which were integrated via brancards into the case itself. That first run of six pieces increased to thirty-three by 1920, and by the end of the 20th Century, that number stood well in the hundreds of thousands. In sheer volume alone, the Tank - in all its various models - is Cartier's largest line of watches. 

The Tank Louis was introduced in 1922, following close on the heels of the Asian-influenced Tank Chinoise. The Tank Chinoise, released amidst a mania for jewelry inspired by the Orient, has a square rather than rectangular case and lugs that resemble the portico of a Chinese pagoda.

From its debut, it would see many variations, each in keeping with Louis Cartier’s taste for clean lines and perfect symmetry. Each variant, from the original Tank, Tank Louis or the Cintrée with its flirtatious, curvaceous lines, had its passionate devotees. Rudolph Valentino, that sensual star of the silver screen, insisted on wearing his Tank onscreen in The Son of the Sheik, and Clark Gable, Andy Warhol, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis were among those who sported a Tank throughout the years.


SKU: AS03740

18k Yellow gold case is approximately 24mm X 36mm (excluding the crown). Manually-winding movement by Cartier. Circa 1978.

Overall Condition: The case is in excellent condition overall showing normal wear consistent with age and use. Non luminous white Roman silver dial is in very good condition with light signs of aging. Non luminous blued steel handset. Sapphire cabochon crown.

Includes Cartier signed black lizard strap with gold tone pin buckle.

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