20 May 2024


By In Brands, Cartier, General

One of the most captivating unveilings at this year’s Watches & Wonders 2024 in Geneva was the presentation of Cartier’s new Santos Dumont Rewind. This peculiar timepiece draws inspiration from the legendary aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, paying tribute in a way that has never been seen before. At first glance, it might seem like a typical Santos Dumont, with its distinctive square case, cabochon crown, and Roman numeral indices. But upon closer inspection, the Santos Dumont Rewind reveals its remarkable twist: it tells time backwards. This unexpected feature has created quite a buzz in the watchmaking world, turning heads and challenging conventions.

The origin of its name: a nod to history

The naming of the Santos Dumont Rewind goes beyond highlighting its unique time-telling feature, it pays homage to the historic relationship between Alberto Santos-Dumont and Louis Cartier (here and here you can find two articles on the the Cartier Santos collection). The term “Rewind” suggests a journey back to the era when the Brazilian aviator Santos-Dumont soared through the skies. In 1904, Louis Cartier designed the first wristwatch for Alberto Santos-Dumont, allowing him to check the time without removing his hands from the controls in the cockpit. This innovation established the Santos Dumont model as a lasting icon of Cartier, epitomizing both innovation and elegance. The Santos Dumont Rewind is a reminder of this historic connection, adding a playful and futuristic twist to an otherwise classic design.

Cartier Santos Dumont Rewind – Photo courtesy of Hodinkee
A bold design and a singular dial

The most intriguing feature of the Santos Dumont Rewind is its dial. Encased in platinum, the carnelian red lacquered dial boasts a smoky and swirly texture, with Roman numerals arranged in reverse order from eleven to one. This unconventional design extends to the 430 MC movement, which is a Piaget 430 MC ultra-thin manual winding mechanism. This movement, measuring 20.5 mm by 2.1 mm in height, in this particular watch has been engineered to run backwards, offering a truly unique take on horology. The watch’s case, with dimensions of 31.4 mm in diameter, 43.5 mm in length, and 7.3 mm in height, maintains the classic Santos Dumont aesthetic while allowing for a sleek and wearable design. Despite its thinness, the watch offers a 38-hour power reserve, ensuring it is as functional as it is distinctive.

Cartier Santos Dumont Rewind – Photo courtesy of Hodinkee
A limited edition with unique challenges

Although the backward-running complication might seem whimsical, it is one of the most intriguing features on a limited-edition model. It plays with the concept of time in a way few other watches do, challenging our conventional perception of how an analog watch should work. For collectors, wearing the Santos Dumont Rewind might require some adjustment, as reading time backward is not an intuitive task. However, with consistent wear, it might eventually become accustomed to its reversed configuration. The real challenge might come when switching back to a regular watch, as the brain could struggle to revert to conventional time-telling.

Cartier Santos Dumont Rewind – Photo courtesy of Cartier

This unique complication will only be a dilemma for a few selected customers, as Cartier plans to produce just 200 pieces of the Santos Dumont Rewind, priced at $38.400 each. This limited-edition status, combined with its avant-garde approach to time-telling, makes it a coveted item among collectors and enthusiasts. It encapsulates the spirit of innovation and the willingness to break the mold, reinforcing Cartier’s reputation as a leader in luxury watchmaking.

Written by Alessio Sammaria

Born in 1996, trainee tax lawyer in Milan. Watch enthusiast since childhood, collector since the age of majority. Attracted to the shapes, innovations and materials of watches. Exit watch in his collection is to own all the great complications.