Cartier Santos 100 XL
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Cartier Santos 100 XL

Watch collectors remember Alberto Santos-Dumont for the watch that bears his name--the Cartier Santos, which has the distinction of being one of the first watches designed especially to be worn on the wrist. 

Fashion-forward Parisians (but really, is there a Parisian who isn't?) would remember him for his distinctive style of dressing, which did much to popularize the Panama hat in Paris in the 1900s.

But history will remember Santos-Dumont as being a pioneer in the world of aviation, a man who flew both lighter-than-air craft, like balloons and dirigibles, as well as airplanes, distinguishing himself in both. In 1900, Santos piloted the Santos-Dumont 5 from the Parc de Saint-Cloud (located 6 miles from Paris) to the Eiffel Tower in less than six minutes, winning the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize. Santos later donated the 100,000 franc prize to the poor of Paris.

When he turned his attention to airplanes, he became the first pilot in Europe to fly more than 82 feet, and later set a world record for flying 722 feet in 21.5 seconds.

Additionally, it was his work with Clément-Bayard (an early manufacturer of airplanes) to mass-produce his Demoiselle line of monoplanes that produced the first commercially-available, mass-produced aircraft of its kind. Santos-Dumont saw his invention as an instrument of peace, something that would unite mankind. In a June 1910 issue of Popular Magazine, the Demoiselle was extolled as, "better than any other which has ever been built, for those who wish to reach results with the least possible expense and with a minimum of experimenting."

He was a familiar sight on the boulevards and cafés of Paris, flying his dirigible No. 9 Baladeuse at rooftop-level. The people of Paris called him "le petit Santos" due to his diminutive stature. And in his native Brazil he was a hero. 

To us, he's the namesake of Cartier's flagship line of wristwatches. As the legend goes, after winning the Deutsch prize, Santos-Dumont and his friends celebrated at Maxim's restaurant in Paris. While there, he complained to his friend Louis Cartier of the difficulty he faced when trying to check the time while operating the controls of his aircraft, the 14 bis

Cartier's response was to devise something entirely new--a watch with a slim case in a distinctive shape, affixed to a leather strap with a small buckle, meant to be worn on the wrist. Voilà, the Cartier Santos was born. It would become the first commercially-available wristwatch for men in 1911. 

With its slim profile, for many watch enthusiasts the Cartier Santos represented the epitome of a dress watch. However, a redesign in the late 1970s ushered in a new era for the model. Perhaps inspired by the popularity of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Cartier released a larger, sportier version of the Santos in steel.

That would in turn pave the way for the Santos 100, released in 2004 for the centennial of the model.

The Santos 100 retained the look of the classic Santos, with its square case shape and visible rivets on the bezel. But it was updated to give the watch a more modern feel. The railroad minute track on the dial was taken away, and the hands were now luminescent (Luminova) rather than the blued steel hands of the original.

The case was also updated, enlarged to 51mm by 38mm. Make no mistake, this is an impressive watch, in both size and construction. On a rivet bracelet (which as of 2012 is no longer offered with the watch), the Santos 100 XL is solid on the wrist, dependable, with a look that's decidedly Cartier. 

Details

SKU: AS01981

Stainless steel case is approximately 38mm x 51mm. Cartier Santos 100 XL 2656. ETA Self-Winding Movement. Circa 2008.

Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with signs of minor use and wear, including some faint scratches on the sides of the case. Dial is in excellent, as-new condition. Cartier cabochon crown. Cartier case back is in very good condition.

Includes one 22mm rivet bracelet with Cartier-signed deployant clasp. Bracelet is in very good condition with minor signs of wear.

Also includes inner and outer boxes, spare links, papers and DVD dated February 2008.

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