Where We're Going, We Don't Need Circles
Since the dawn of the clock- and watchmaking era, dials have been round. This is the most common choice, as these mechanical devices work from rounded gears with central pivots that move hands around in a 360° arc. A round dial is also easily divided into units of 12 or 24, to mirror the societal choice of dividing our days into 24 different units. Designing a watch that moves away from the circle takes a bit of extra effort to balance the hour markers. First, one needs to fit an often-round movement inside a case, then make it all feel as natural as the shape we are used to. This is a challenge that Cartier has become an expert at overcoming, with over a century of experience in showing why it's hipper to be square, or rectangle, or tonneau, or…
Famously designed for a friend of Cartier, aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont wanted a watch he could wear on the wrist when flying. Perhaps this was a simple request, but he wanted something other than the pocket watches that were being strapped to wrists at the time. This smaller watch was not only the first pilot's watch but it also changed the fashion attitude towards men wearing wristwatches, which only women did at the time. While it has gone through many iterations, all Santos watches have a square bezel, square case, and exposed screws on the bezel. This watch is part of the current generation launched in 2018, with a slightly curved case and in-house movement. With its steel case and elegant looks, I think the Santos de Cartier is always a good answer to the question: What watch would make a perfect one-watch collection?
For more Cartier watches, even the round ones, go to the HODINKEE Shop.