The Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont became the first man to achieve powered flight without the aid of a launch device. He was, a scant two years later, the first to produce a commercially available aircraft, the Demoiselle. Unsurprisingly, he was also the first to sport his eponymous wristwatch, created by his friend Louis Cartier, which is credited as being not only the first pilot’s watch, but also the first wristwatch designed specifically for men.
The Santos went on sale in 1911, serving as perhaps the most elegant “tool watch” of its age, achieving truly mass appeal when it was finally made available in bicolour and steel models in the Seventies. But the design is no relic: its handsome “rounded square” case is instantly recognisable and its credentials as a horological groundbreaker ensure its continued currency.
Cartier has chosen 2018 to celebrate Santos-Dumont’s daredevil genius by offering two new steel-cased models: one automatic (available in two sizes), the other a skeletonised, manually-wound version available in the larger size