Cartier celebrates Santos’ 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 in New York City honoring several modern-day pioneers. The luxury jeweler/watchmaker is also marking the centenary with three new Santos collections this year.

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 far 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; Culinary Arts – master chef, restaurant owner, and TV cooking shows star Mario Batali; Entertainment – blockbuster movie and TV producer Jerry Bruckheimer; Music – legendary producer and chairman of the RCA Music Group Clive Davis; Photography – famed fashion photographer David LaChapelle; Fashion – innovative young designer Zac Posen; Philanthropy – Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons; and, appropriately, in Aviation – NetJets Inc. founder, chairman, and chief executive officer Richard T. Santulli.

Proceeds from the event benefited the Natural Resources Defense Fund (, one of the most influential U.S. environmental organizations with over 1 million members. Among the many celebrity guests were rap artist Wyclef Jean, film director Bart Freundlich, and actors Chloe Sevigny, Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei, Claire Dane, Esai Morales, and Famke Janssen. 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.

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