Cartier watches are a serious business. Despite its reputation as a jewelry and luxury accessor brand, Cartier ended 2022 as the second largest Swiss watchmaker. That's right; Cartier sold more value in watches than Omega, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet - everyone not named Rolex. With iconic models like the Cartier Tank, Cartier Santos, Crash, Ballon Bleu, Pasha, and more, Cartier has the history and heritage to match anyone.
Tonight, Tim Mosso explores the best of the 2023 Cartier watches, the underrated Calibre de Cartier Diver, and the company's recent history of "Fine Watchmaking" with haute horlogerie complications.
The 2023 Cartier Santos Dumont Skeleton Micro Rotor is the most impressive new Cartier watch since 2018's Santos series revitalized the sportier side of the Santos de Cartier collection. With the 2020 Santos Dumont, Cartier revisited the elegant simplicity of the original 1904 Santos wristwatch created for aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. For 2023, Cartier expands the line with a new micro-rotor automatic skeletonized caliber 9629 movement and three case styles.
All versions of the 2023 Santos Dumont Skeleton Micro Rotor use a manufacture movement that doubles as the dial of the watch. The most exotic model is the yellow gold limited edition of 150 pieces. Its case reprises the successful 2022 Santos Dumont Lacquered case editions while adding hand-applied navy blue lacquer to the movement itself. The skeletonized movement is yellow gold gilded and doubles as the dial of the watch. For good measure, the 1907 Santos Dumont "Demoiselle" aircraft sits atop the platinum micro rotor.
Additional details of the 2023 Cartier Santos Skeleton include a case thickness of only 8mm and a diameter of 31mm. That said, non-round watches always wear larger than their rated sizes, so it's probably best to envision this Cartier as a 38mm round watch. In addition to the yellow gold limited series, the Santos Skeleton will be available in stainless steel and rose gold in unlimited series.
The Calibre de Cartier Diver launched in 2014, and it gave Cartier a rare segment-leading option in the dive watch market. While not known historically for building dive watches, Cartier took the challenge seriously and ensured that its Cartier Diver was fully compliant with the ISO 6425 definition of a diving watch. As part of the process of meeting standard, Cartier tested the Diver to 125 percent of its rated 300-meter water resistance depth.
Refinements abound on the now discontinued Calibre de Cartier Diver. Its 42mm case was shockingly thin at only 11.2mm; the Rolex Submariner, itself quite thin for a dive watch, measures 12.8mm. Cartier also shaped the case to wear easily on small wrists, and the 48mm lug-to-lug measurement is admirably short for a 42mm watch. A 120-click unidirectional diving bezel pivots on ceramic ball bearings for outstanding feel and precision; the blue version even uses a ceramic bezel cap. Finally, the Cartier rubber strap fits neatly into recesses between the lugs for a highly integrated appearance and excellent fit on small wrists.
Cartier designed the Diver's dial and crown with brand-appropriate details, but the integrity of the watch as a diving tool is preserved by superb functionality of the ornate dial. Its prolific use of superluminova ensures easy reading in the dark and assuages any doubts about the utility of a sub-seconds dive watch. Although Cartier caliber 1904 MC isn't an exotic, it is a reliable and in-house automatic caliber that boasts 48 hours of power reserve and excellent rate stability thanks to twin mainspring barrels in series.
Tonight's show contains reviews of Cartier watches, Cartier watch prices, and a historical review of the company's brief but spectacular "Fine Watchmaking" series of complicated timepieces.
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