Cartier Santos Dumont "Rouge" - Platinum - 1980's


Platinum | Silver Rosette guilloché dial


Since 1847 the Parisian ‘King of Jewellers, Jewellers of Kings’ has produced many instant classics after turning its eye to watches. But no one timepiece signed off by Cartier can compete with the historical account of the Santos Dumont, the first wristwatch created in 1904 by Louis Cartier.

In an era marked by invention and adventure, Alberto Santos-Dumont pioneered in aviation. He was the first to fly in a powered airplane with his 14-biplane in Europe and today we thank the world’s first pilot wristwatch – the Cartier Santos Dumont – to him. Santos-Dumont was born in 1873 in Cabunga, Brazil into a wealthy family of coffee producers. Riding locomotive and steam tractors from the family plantation whilst being young, he already had his head in the clouds, dreaming of flying.

The family moved to Europe on the search for medical treatment when Santos-Dumont’s father became paralyzed after a horse-riding accident. Alberto’s imagination and flying obsession was further sparked in Paris, after seeing hot air balloons hover over the city. His first designed balloon, the Brésil, was flown in 1898. It didn’t take long for he was designing and flying steerable balloons (coined ‘dirigible’). It was said he would float at rooftop level around Paris and would land next to cafés in the city fancying lunch.

Alberto Santos-Dumont wanted to have his hands free for controls while flying – pocket watches were no longer ticking the rhythm of his ambitions. That is why Louis Cartier created the Santos Dumont model in 1904 for his aviator friend, allowing ‘this man of action to tell the time more easily whilst in flight’.

‘What is that strapped onto his wrist?’, was the common response looking at newspaper photos of Alberto in his flying machine, that only became available for the public in 1911 (in collaboration with Edmond Jaeger). Aside from being the first pilot’s watch, the deployant buckle that Cartier developed for the Santos Dumont in 1909 was another first on the market.

Today its successor, the Cartier Santos (1978), is part of the horological dictionary, with its importance resonating through in the Collection Privée Cartier Paris. But it was in the beginning of the 1980’s when Cartier launched a unique production of Santos Dumont watches in platinum with red adornments, with even the signature Cartier cabochon spotted in red.

Little is known of this momentous model, yet the book White Cartier by Osvaldo Patrizzi – as found in the library of Cartier connoisseur George Cramer, who was so kind to share both knowledge and images with Mr Watchley – hints to the past of the Santos Dumont Rouge. In the book four rare Rouge-models, created in the same epoch, are depicted: the Santos model here at hand, two Tank watches and a Rectangulaire on bracelet.

It is believed that these Cartier Rouge-timepieces have been manufactured in a very select number for Cartier’s most valued clients. This makes the Cartier Santos Dumont Rouge one of the most exclusive vintage timepieces on the market.

The Watch

This stunning Cartier Santos Dumont Rouge is believed to be one of 20 to 30 pieces ever manufactured, making it the rarest Santos Dumont in platinum. Its 80s case is slightly larger than its vintage equivalent: 36mm x 27mm, making it the quintessential dress watch. 

The satin-brush finished platinum case has a slim design – thanks to the hand-wound Frédéric Piguet calibre – and has a polished platinum plate bezel with tiny screws, one of the signature style choices linked to the Santos DNA. The Rouge Paris-dial has an extraordinary soft tone, featuring a refined silver rosette guilloché dial. It stands out by its classical red character: the printed red outer railway minute track and Roman numerals and stunning red ‘épée’ hands, visible through the sapphire crystal. 

The timepiece further spots the faceted signature crystal of Cartier (the cabochon) on the platinum octagonal winding crown, with a matching red ruby instead of the standard blue version.

Being the epitome of elegance, the Cartier Santos Dumont Rouge is fitted by a custom made Mr Watchley small scale alligator strap in Bordeaux with an original 18k white gold folding buckle, honouring the Santos Dumont from 1904.

The Movement

The Cartier Santos Dumont Rouge – produced without a reference, though later models carry the Ref. 1575 – is powered by the manual-wound 021MC caliber, based on the Frédéric Piguet 21 and designed as the thinnest watch movement on the market with a diameter of 20,4mm and 1,75mm thickness (it has hold up to this reputable claim for 21 years). The 90-year-old movement is still produced today.

The 021MC has a power reserve of 42 hours and contains 18 jewels. The movement originally oscillated at 18,000 A/h but has been escalated to 21,600 A/h.


This very rare Cartier Santos Dumont Rouge is in mint condition and has excellent functionality. It comes comes with its original 1980 Cartier (White gold) folding buckle

If you desire to take a closer look at this precious timepiece, don't hesitate to contact us and make an appointment. 

We are based in Ghent, Belgium


We're located in the center of Ghent. Free parking available on site. 
No stock kept on site

Reference 1575
Movement Manual wound
Caliber Cartier 021MC
Dial Silver Rosette Guilloché
Size (Case) 27 mm x 36 mm
Material (Case) Platinum
Bracelet Custom made Bordeaux small scale alligator
Glass Sapphire
Condition very good
Year 1980's
Papers -
Box -
Warranty 2 years


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