Slate Dial 2960 Cartier Santos Carrée

Before Cartier became fully married to quartz in the late 80s and well before the CPCP-era that resurrected their mechanical watchmaking, one or two mechanical Santos slipped through the cracks, hanging on for dear life. One is the ref. 2960, a large-cased Carrée (french for square, or straight-lugged) Santos with a modified ETA. It’s not just any 2960 though, as this vertically-grained grey dial known as ‘slate’ is one of the most desirable and hard-to-find Santos out there.


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.Even though it’s the larger case size, the 29x41mm is still quite reserved in a design sense and in proportion.


No one knows just how many slate dials are out there, but it’s maybe two or three that come to market each year, often quickly snapped up by the ravenous Cartier crowd. Prices, too, have been steadily on a climb from the 7500 USD mark to 10K and now some selling well above that. By comparison to the standard dial, the market does seem a bit dramatic. But then if you’re contrasting this kind of rarity, you’d have to pursue some CPCP Santos Dumont to even get close in terms of production volume. So perhaps this is still an 80s uncut gem, waiting for the larger market to acknowledge its appeal? Or it’s just a few watch lovers going mad over a grey dial with no numerals and a gold Cartier signature. Yeah, probably the latter, but I count myself amongst them.


This example is worn, but sharp. The case has proud bevels and moderate degree of surface wear. The dial is clear of damage and the Cartier print is very legible. It comes from a well-regarded German retailer.

Find this Slate Santos Carrée here from Rarebirds listed as POA.