96054 1980s Cartier Santos Dumont ‘Extra Flat’
Last year, Cartier outsold Omega by turnover for the first time, taking second place behind Rolex as Switzerland’s largest watch seller. This worries me slightly. It’s not that I don’t want Cartier to do well, quite the opposite. But I also don’t want Cartier to become more associated with Harrods than Fifth Ave. I worry that there are too many Santos Skeleton ADLCs in Lamborghinis in Dubai. Catch my drift? No, instead a Santos Dumont should be seen on my wrist, as I weave down coastal roads in the South of France in a 70s Aston Vantage with Elizabeth Debicki in the passenger’s seat. Granted, all of these things, including the Santos are still a dream. But I want the brand image as untarnished as it is today until I can make that happen. That may be awhile, but in the mean time I think I have the watch figured out: this pre-CPCP 1980s Dumont is lifted straight from that dreamscape.
A bastion of utility with elegant design from the modern era, the Santos Dumont is what a pilot’s watch looks like when dressed to the nines. The ‘Dumont’ here is important, a deliberate naming choice made by Cartier to reference the full name of Louis Cartier’s pilot friend who, in 1904, needed a wristwatch instead of a pocket watch. Where the Santos has an integrated bracelet and larger case these days, the Santos Dumont harks back to that original design more closely. Including the bezel screws, which were made to echo the construction style of the Eiffel Tower.
Harking back here means a 26x36mm case, that, thanks to a Frédéric Piguet calibre 21, is just 4.5mm tall. That’s why it was marketed as ‘Extra Flat’, some 2mm thinner than the standard Santos. That calibre 21 has made many Cartier appearances and was the thinnest hand-wound movement made for 21 years. It was one of the few movements that wasn’t really changed out for the CPCP era later, basically just got a new name from Cartier. There’s a great light oxidation on the 18k yellow gold case, something you often see from this time in Cartier. I’m crushing for this 80s Dumont precisely as hard as I am for Debicki, sorry. But can you blame me? It belongs in a seaside cafe outside Marseille permanently. Cartier is great. Let’s keep it that way.
And the lugs are full, bevels proud. Hallmarks are deep. The dial is showing light hairlines in its lacquer, a very light spider effect has formed over the years. It is running well and even comes with a full set from a well-regarded retailer in Japan.
Find this 1980s Santos Dumont ‘Extra Flat’ here from Special Dial for ~10000 USD.