It’s only been four years since Cartier brought back the Santos-Dumont collection. With the release of this year’s cheap UK replica Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton Micro-Rotor watches, it’s impressive how far the collection has come since the 2019 release of that first relatively affordable (and quartz) Santos-Dumont.
The Santos-Dumont dates to 1904 and is often credited as the first commercially available men’s wristwatch. For most of the model’s history, the Santos-Dumont was a dressy watch on a leather strap. In 1978, Cartier introduced a separate line, the Santos de Cartier, adding a bracelet and revamping the model to make it a true sports watch, an answer to the new integrated bracelet luxury sports watches from Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and others. The 2019 re-release of the dressed-up Santos-Dumont put me on to the model in a big way, but with it only available on quartz, I started searching for something mechanical. Eventually, I bought perfect fake Cartier Santos-Dumont CPCP watches from the ’90s, a watch I’ve even written about here.
At Watches & Wonders this year, Cartier introduced the Santos-Dumont Skeleton Micro-Rotor in steel, rose gold, and a limited-edition yellow gold. I was able to get hands-on with the steel version, a beautiful mixture of everything I love about top Cartier replica watches: Design first, but with some sneaky good watchmaking.
The Santos-Dumont Skeleton Micro-Rotor uses Cartier’s “Large” case size, measuring 31mm and 8mm thick. To me, this is the perfect modern size for the model, with a strong wrist presence but not too big like the “XL.” In addition to the impressive movement, the size is why I prefer the Skeleton Micro-Rotor compared to this year’s other Swiss movements copy Cartier Santos-Dumont watches releases that cut Roman numerals from different stones.
The new skeletonized caliber 9629 MC takes center stage in the Santos-Dumont Skeleton Micro-Rotor. It’s the latest beautifully crafted skeletonized movement from 2023 replica Cartier watches, which has released a number of skeleton calibers dating back to the Santos 100 from 2009. It’s both form and function: the bridges form hour markers, while the mainspring, gear train, and hairspring are all visible. As seen at two o’clock, the mainspring is small, leaving the caliber with a somewhat short 44-hour power reserve. Sitting opposite the hairspring, the mainspring provides a certain symmetry to the caliber. The 30 meters of water resistance is sufficient for a watch like this.
The tiny plane whizzing around on the micro-rotor is the aesthetic focal point. When I first covered this watch before having the chance to go hands-on with it, I thought it looked kind of corny. I love the AAA Cartier Santos-Dumont fake watches, but because of its design, not due to any historical connection to pilots. While this connection makes for a nice marketing story, I thought the micro-rotor plane might be a bit too on the nose.
But the plane isn’t too big, barely noticeable across a subway car. The rotor is a reference to the Santos-Dumont’s history, originally made by Louis Cartier for the famous aviator of the same name; the plane on the micro-rotor is a model of Santos-Dumont’s famous La Demoiselle plane. According to stories, Santos-Dumont was a bit of an eccentric inventor, the type of guy who’d show up to dinner at a Parisian hotspot in a hot air balloon. In each case, the plane matches the metal, a cohesive part of the design and not too much of a gimmick. The micro-rotor also requires a bit of movement to really take off, meaning it’s not too distracting from the wearing or time-keeping of the best Cartier Santos-Dumont super clone watches.
There are no traditional Roman numerals on the dial, but it’s a testament to Cartier’s design that telling time is still simple: the screws on the bezel and the caliber’s bridges both aid in marking the hours. The bridges are also filled with small lines of lacquer to match the strap (black in the steel version). At a glance, the silhouette and shape of the Santos-Dumont Micro-Rotor are familiar, staying true to the model’s original design while updating it into something that’s completely modern upon closer inspection. The case is compact and thin as we see with many of China Cartier replica watches‘ more faithful heritage reeditions. The movement is visually impressive, and while most of the finishing looks to be completed by machine, that’s what I expect from Cartier at this price – about $30,000 in steel, $40,000 in gold.
The yellow gold model with a blue lacquered bezel and case is probably the best of the bunch, building on the success of 2022’s lacquered cases. But it’s limited to 150 pieces, so most will have to settle for the rose gold or steel models. It would’ve been cool to see Cartier fake watches for sale use the lacquer treatment in the regular production pieces, too.
I’m glad Cartier included steel in the collection, a slightly cheaper option than the precious metal versions, making this Santos-Dumont feel like a watch that mixes dress and sport. Still, at about $30,000, the steel example isn’t a cheap watch, though it does offer more watchmaking compared to some of the aggressively priced heritage 1:1 Cartier replica watches we’ve seen from Cartier over the past couple of years.
As an avowed fan of the Santos-Dumont, the Skeleton Micro-Rotor feels like a worthy addition to the lineup. It’s an example of what makes Cartier fake watches wholesale one of the most exciting watchmakers right now. There’s impressive watchmaking but within the bounds of heritage and design. This combination is quite literal in the Skeleton Micro-Rotor: Cartier has produced a beautiful new skeletonized movement, but it’s placed inside a Santos-Dumont with classic size and design. Four years after bringing back the Santos-Dumont collection, it’s the most modern take on the model yet, a watch fit for a present-day Alberto Santos-Dumont, hot air balloon not included.