The Santos Dumont was created by Cartier for Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos Dumont who complained to Louis Cartier in 1904 about the difficulty in being free to view his pocket watch for timing his performance while in flight in the air. Santos Dumont asked Cartier if he could develop an alternative that would allow both hands to remain free and on the controls of the aircraft during flight without taking one's view away from the windshield while in the air. Cartier went to work on the problem, and the result was a watch with a Roman Numeral dial and leather band with a small buckle to be worn on the wrist. The wrist watch itself had been invented years before, but they were generally worn only by women as jewelry, while men favored manual pocket watches. Both Cartier and Santos Dumont, therefore, played an important role in popularizing the use of the wrist watch by men in the early 20th century. Cartier designed a flat wristwatch with a distinctive square 18K White Gold or Rose Gold bezel, later models accentuated the jewelry features of the watch adding diamonds to the white gold or rose gold of the bezel and dial. The watch was not only loved by Santos-Dumont but also by many of other customers of Cartier and thus the Santos collection was born with influence from both Paris where the watch was created and Brazil where Dumont developed most of his techniques and aircrafts for flight.
Cartier went on to produce several other models of the Santos watch which include Galbee, Demoiselle and Dumont. Cartier began the commercial production and sale of the Santos Dumont in 1911 in Paris and over the years Cartier introduced a number of variations to the original piece including options of a white or black Roman Numeral dial, manual, automatic, or quartz movement, diamond studded white gold or rose gold square bezel, a flat white gold or platinum case, and lunette and baton style hands. The design by Cartier features geometric shapes and exposed 18K white gold, rose gold, or yellow gold screws, and the watch has quickly become an icon within the vaunted Cartier collection. The Santos Dumont from Cartier is one of the more ornate pieces one can view in the Santos family of watches with the 18K white gold or rose gold of the bezel highlighted by the option of diamonds which embrace a white or silver skeleton Roman Numeral dial that is held firm by an Alligator Leather Strap with 18K White Gold Double Adjustable Deployant Buckle.
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