Cartier Celebrates Santos’s 100th; Honors Modern-Day Pioneers

It was a party a century in the making.

Cartier Inc. celebrated the 100th anniversary of its iconic Santos watch—the very first Cartier wristwatch and the first-ever pilot’s watch—with a May 25 star-studded benefit gala at The New York State Armory in New York City honoring several modern-day pioneers. Proceeds from the event benefited the Natural Resources Defense Fund, one of the most influential U.S. environmental organizations, with over 1 million members. The luxury jeweler/watchmaker also is marking the centenary with three new Santos collections.

The first Santos watch was created in 1904 by famed Parisian jeweler Louis Cartier for his friend and aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, a renowned Brazilian flyer whose daring feats of flight in his day were better known worldwide than those of the Wright Brothers. The Santos watch attracted so much public interest that Cartier began producing it as a line of its inventory in 1911.

In an appropriate gesture honoring a watch created for an aviation pioneer, the May 25 Cartier gala was a tribute to several “modern pioneers—a select group of people who have truly made a difference in their fields,” said a Cartier statement.

Honorees included: Sports – New York Giants running back Tiki Barber, for his media work and “significant humanitarian contributions”; Culinary Arts – master chef, restaurant owner, and TV cooking show star Mario Batali, who “seamlessly combined traditional principles with intelligent culinary adventure”; Entertainment – Jerry Bruckheimer, one of today’s most successful film and TV producers, with more than 30 films and five current hit TV shows to his credit; Music – BMG North America chairman and chief executive officer Clive Davis, “one of the record industry’s most innovative, outspoken, and influential executives”; Photography – world famous photographer David LaChapelle, whose work has appeared in numerous fashion magazines, ad campaigns, and his own music videos; Fashion – innovative young designer Zac Posen, “one of the most interesting and creative fashion designers today”; Philanthropy – Def Jam Records founder and president Russell Simmons, co-founder of the RUSH Philanthropic Arts Foundation, “who has been instrumental in bringing hip-hop to every facet of business and media”; and, appropriately, in Aviation – NetJets Inc. founder, chairman, and chief executive officer Richard T. Santulli, who “has single-handedly changed the face of private aviation and the aviation industry itself.”

The event was hosted by Bernard Fornas, president, Cartier International; Callum Barton, chairman, Cartier USA; and Stanislas de Quercize, president and chief executive officer, Cartier USA. Among many celebrity guests were rap artist Wyclef Jean, film director Bart Freundlich, and actors Chloe Sevigny, Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei, Claire Danes, and Esai Morales.

Cartier also is marking its pioneering timepiece’s centennial with the launch this year of three new Santos collections: the masculine Santos 100 (51 mm); the slim, pink gold, manual-wind Santos-Dumont; and the women’s Santos Demoiselle, named for Santos-Dumont’s plane.