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Text Matteo Mammoli

Twenty-two seconds in the air. The first airplane in Europe flew, the Oiseau de Proie, bird of prey. Official name, 14-bis: a biplane with landing gear designed by Franco-Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont, father of aviation. Nine times in flight. At the Parc de Bagatelle, in the suburbs of Paris, the crowd waited until sunset. The first attempts in the morning had led to poor results, fifty metres at most. A pit stop in the early afternoon to repair the aircraft after an abrupt landing. In the evening, the last flight, the winning one: reached two hundred twenty metres away. It was November 12, 1906.

Two years earlier, in the Paris of the Belle Époque, Santos-Dumont dined at Maxim’s. That evening, sipping champagne, he complained to his tablemate. Too awkward, in flight, raising one arm from the steering wheel to allow the hand to sneak into the jacket pocket and take out the onion watch. He was knocking at the right door – his friend, Louis Cartier, was listening. Thus the first men’s wristwatch was born – polygonal dial, integrated loops and leather strap – the Santos de Cartier, elegant and innovative, like the spirit of the character from which it takes its name.

Marketed since 1911, it is the only watch with a centennial history behind it. At the 2018 Geneva Sihh – Salon International de la haute horologerie – Cartier presented the new Santos model. Clear background, black Roman numerals, a blue spinel in the crown, eight visible screws to delimit the dial: the appearance is the same as then, slightly blunted in the forms, the technology is that advanced of our age – more resistant to shocks and to variations in pressure, automatic charge, equipped with the SmartLink, which allows you to change the bracelet independently, without having to go to boutiques.

Jake Gyllenhaal is the Santos-Dumont of the new millennium. In the video made for the launch of the collection, the actor plays the Brazilian aviator. He sees beyond what exists, he lives at full speed, crossing the limits of the human, thinking and realising the new. Also some artists and instagrammers pay homage to the latest Santos de Cartier model, through illustrations, photos and videos, they tell the story of the centenary watch, born almost by chance, one evening, at dinner by Maxim’s.

Video by oliver astrologo – ig @oliverhl

Santos de Cartier, cartier.com