This is perhaps one of the most difficult watches to attempt to categorize, ever. It’s integrated, but it isn’t really sporting. It’s full yellow gold, but not really a dress watch. It has a moonphase, but it isn’t a mechanical movement. Now I am, somewhat infamously, a lover of mechanical watchmaking. But I always appreciate when quartz calibres bring something unique to the table, and the Santos Galbée (French for ‘curved’ or ‘shapely’, so named for a slender lug design that debuted in ’87) Moonphase does just that.
The moonphase was first developed by Patek Philippe for the ref. 97975, the world’s first perpetual calendar wristwatch. Since then, it has remained in the domain of high-level watchmaking, a mark of complication visible through the dial. This Santos defies that entire history, offering a proud moonphase display but powering it with electrons. Even in 1990, no one really needed a moonphase except perhaps to measure tides. Its purpose is to signal the complexity of the calibre which lies beneath. Cartier very knowingly took that element and applied it to a quartz Santos, unashamedly. No part of this decision made logical sense and, as John Mayer once famously stated in Talking Watches 2, ‘man, that’s just fine’.
Despite the iconoclast calibre, its unchanged 29x41mm full 18k yellow gold case and integrated bracelet are classically Cartier, perfect. By comparison to the period time-only Santos, the moonphase is a far rarer bird. Many will prefer the contemporary 2960 mechanical Santos or later strap-wearing CPCP variants. However, for those willing to fly the middle finger in the face of convention, those who live outside of categories, I can think of few more fitting watches than a yellow gold quartz moonphase Santos Galbée. Just don’t expect a massive value, Cartier’s resurgence has pulled quartz Santos values up with the rest.
This example has a very unique patina. Its case is full and sharp, but with a moderate level of surface wear across all elements. This watch has been worn, but is not abused. Just worn frequently. Its dial has gone slightly warm in age. The blue three-hand handset is lovely in its uniqueness. It was recently serviced by Cartier and comes from a Swedish collector who goes by @alekswatches on Instagram.
Find this Santos Galbée Moonphase here on Chrono24 for 13000 EUR.