The World`s First Pilot`s Watch, Cartier Santos 1904
You had to be bold in those early days of flight when everything was so uncertain. You had to be original enough to tell the world that flight was possible and you weren`t afraid to show the world. That`s the way of the flamboyant Alberto Santos-Dumont. The Franco-Brazilian builder flew his fixed wing aircraft in 1906 on the European continent; just three years after the Wright brothers had achieved the first sustained flight in the U.S. His daring originality is captured in Cartier Santos, World`s First Pilot watch. The European inventor always wore the same watch when he flew his machine. He complained to his friend that he was tired of checking his pocket watch while flying; that it was dangerous as he stood atop his floating machine. That is when the watch designer, Louis Cartier, designed the pilot his very own wrist watch. The two became inseparable. Now, you can buy a watch that is a copy of the first pilot`s watch. Alberto Santos-Dumont became legend in Europe. His flying machines had put his picture in the paper all over Europe and everyone wondered what it was that was affixed to his wrist. As the fame of his flying machines grew, the fame of his watches grew. Soon, he was producing the first commercial airplanes and his friend, Louis Cartier, was producing top of the line pilot`s watches for the whole of Europe. Now the watch has been modernized, but still holds its unique flair. The original pilot`s watch had a few distinguishing features that all show up in the modern versions. First, the face of the watch is square and sometimes rectangular. The time markings are square as well, so the watches hands roll around the box pointing at different hour marks. Each hour mark is made in roman numerals around the scored box and the name Cartier appears just above the hands. There is a singular chronograph roller on the side of the square watch face. The rivets on the watch are stylized as well. These simple rivets, with a flathead screwdriver top, harken back to the first flying machines where rivets were crude and simple, yet Cartier pulls these rivets off with class. The staying power of the simple watch is a testament to its unique history. Sure, there are bigger and flashier pilot`s watches out there, but none of them have the rich and flamboyant history of the Alberto Santos-Dumont.