Cartier recently announced updates to the iconic Tank, a watch created more than a century ago, but the Santos might be the brand’s product you’re most familiar with. The eye-catching rectangular watch is steeped in history, and there are plenty of variations for wrists and tastes of all kinds.
The Santos came about in the early 1900s when a famous Brazilian pilot named Alberto Santos-Dumont mentioned needing a wrist-worn watch to his friend Louis Cartier. Cartier then had his company develop the unique square watch, credited for inspiring other famous timepieces, including the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Patek Philippe Nautilus.
Cartier refined the watch over the years with different case designs and sizes. In 2005, the company released a Santos XL model with a 45mm case. Several metals have been offered, including steel, gold, rose gold, titanium, white gold, and combination metals. The company has also offered diamond-like coating (DLC) options for the Santos in black. If a square watch isn’t bold enough, Cartier’s catalog includes a skeleton Santos, a chronograph, and more.
Depending on the configuration, newer Santos models offer up to a 48-hour power reserve. Some models also bring robust water resistance, with a few reaching 100m/330ft. Regardless of the modern tech underneath, however, the Santos retains the classic look that has always defined its wrist presence.
If you’re considering a Santos, we’ve got you covered. If a Santos is almost perfect but not quite your thing, there are several other great options. The Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso offers a similar style with dressier proportions, and its case also flips to protect the dial and create a unique look. Franck Muller also made a unique semi-rectangular model in the Cintree Curvex, though it’s less commonly known.