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The Santos De Cartier

It’s deeply etched in the minds of the timepiece cognoscenti, but for those who came into the room late: at the dawn of the 20th century, the Brazilian celebrity pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont mentioned to his friend Louis Cartier that taking one hand off the controls of his plane, one of the earliest fixed-wing aircraft, in order to check his pocket-watch while flying was an infernal inconvenience. Cartier went off and designed what is widely accepted as being the first watch, from the moment pencil hit paper, specifically for the wrist.

This quadrilateral gem, in partnership with Le Coultre (who created the tiny hand-wound movements), went on sale at Cartier’s flagship boutique in Paris a few years later (1911, to be exact — about half a decade before the Tank was invented). The retail model was a more refined version, but still boasted that signature square case and dial, Roman numerals and screw-set

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