2960 Cartier Santos Carrée
Not all that is desirable in Cartier is CPCP, vintage Tank, Crash, or Cintrée. Though many collectors may treat it as such, Cartier’s long and storied history has innumerable alternative high points. In the mid 70s, Cartier began to see the Santos line as potential sporting alternative to the integrated Genta steel which was gaining mass popularity. So came the Santos de Cartier, will a full integrated steel bracelet. In 87, that trendy take evolved into the Galbée (French for ‘curved’ or ‘shapely’) with a more elegant and slender lug design. This look suited the Santos well, as the integrated Santos has become generally regarded as one of the house’s most important steps into the modern era.
Though most Carrée and Galbée were quartz, one or two automatic calibres slipped through production and are quite rare finds today. This automatic production preceded the CPCP push upmarket, and movements were largely reworked ETA calibres. This watch predates the curved case and lugs, each being straight as an arrow. It is thought that around 2000 examples were produced with a grey dial, in varying dial configurations. This entirely blank vertically grained grey is among the rarest of the lot, though no one knows exact numbers. This is not the latter XL, and bears a more discreet wrist presence of 29x41mm, though I find integrated cases feel like they wear a mil or so larger.
Most think of the Santos as something of a luxurious and very classical aviator’s watch. The history of Alberto Santos-Dumont’s friendship with Cartier leading to a highly legible, pocketwatch-inspired square case is lore. However, it seems to me that when Cartier made the decision to integrate its bracelet, that ethos changed. The Santos became Cartier’s sporting offering. If any watch could be said to be classically beautiful and integrated, it would have to be this. Royal Oaks and Nautili both tout classical design elements, but the Santos simply hails from that time.
This example is strong, full stop. The case and bracelet both display light surface wear with strong proportions. Worn, lightly. As far as I can see, the factory polished and brushed intersections are still there. The dial has nothing to degrade, the same can be said its silver handset. The correct set crown is perfect. It comes with a a very uncommon original invoice and box from a well-regarded German retailer.
Find this 2960 Carrée here from Rarebirds for 7800 EUR.