Cartier Santos Dumont XL

Quartz movements have long been anathema to serious watch enthusiasts: These battery-powered mechanisms may be more efficient and accurate than mechanical movements, but they are also often seen as soulless and disposable. Interestingly, we have noticed that the quartz movement has also become a drawback even among some watch consumers with just a casual interest in horology. For instance, Geo Lim, a sales and marketing manager who owns “a few Pateks and Rolexes, and a Cartier”, does not consider herself a watch enthusiast. Even so, she favours watches with mechanical movements. This is in part due to the influence of her watch-collector husband Leo, and also because of a negative personal experience with a quartz watch. Lim shares: “I once had a watch that stopped working because its battery leaked. That left a bad taste in my mouth.”

All in all, then, it’s a good thing that Cartier is releasing mechanically powered versions of the Santos-Dumont, a collection that was first launched last year with only quartz models (albeit a special quartz movement with a battery life of six years). Taking their cues from a historical model, the timepieces are a thinner and dressier take on the regular Santos de Cartier watches. When they were released in 2019, the Santos-Dumont quartz watches also became the entry-level options in the Santos family, with a starting price of $5,000 for a steel model in the Small size (38mm lug-to-lug x 27.5mm across). It is also available in a Large size (43.5 x 31.4mm); with both sizes presented in steel, steel and rose gold, or rose gold.


Profile Cartier Santos-Dumont XL
At 7.5mm, the profile of the manual-winding Santos-Dumont XL is just 0.2mm thicker than the quartz variant.


For 2020, the new Santos-Dumont watches come in a so-called XL size, measuring 46.6 x 33.9mm, with a thickness of just 7.5mm. Like last year’s Santos-Dumont models, the XL will be available in steel, steel and rose gold, or rose gold. A design tweak also means that the straps for the XL models fit more closely to the lugs, which helps the watches to sit nicely on the wrist even with their larger dimensions. For enthusiasts who might have passed on last year’s quartz-powered models, the fact that these new releases are driven by the slender, manually wound 430 MC movement, first seen in the Drive De Cartier extra-flat watch, will be reason enough to give this handsome range some serious thought.

The Santos-Dumont XL retails for $8,100 (steel), $11,300 (steel and pink gold) and $21,500 (pink gold).