In my years reviewing Cartier timepieces, I’ve mostly chosen round watches. In fact, most people who buy replica watches choose ones with round cases. I say this because reviewing the swiss Cartier Santos 100 replica watch was a bit left-field for me. Nevertheless, it is a decision I am happy that I made because this is a timepiece with a huge amount of wrist-appeal once you actually put it on.
One of the reasons that square watches typically don’t work on wrists is the inherent battle between the more organic curves on one’s wrist and the mathematical angularity of square watches. Put these things together, and you often have a result that is not harmonious. This is important to think about because it means that a square or rectangular watch that looks good in a picture, might not be as flattering when put on your wrist. Round fake watches tend to fare much better when it comes to the “on-the-wrist test.”
The above trend isn’t a rule, however, and the right square or rectangular watches can look fantastic. The Cartier Santos collection is among them, and why it works on the wrist is difficult to explain. Like many aesthetics that work well, the brain doesn’t always translate well what the eyes perceive. I’ve spent days looking at the Cartier Santos 100 on my wrist trying to consider “why this square watch works while others don’t?”
The “jumbo” looking size of the Cartier Santos 100 is deceptive, as the case (without the crown) is only 38mm wide. With the crown, the steel case is 41.3mm wide by 51.1m tall, and just 10.34mm thick. That means the Cartier Santos 100 works on a variety of wrists large or small, and also has a bold appearance that a lot of fake watch lovers are looking for. If you recall, back in 2012, we offered a light review of another model in this collection with the replica Cartier Santos 100 with the aDLC-coated black case. Really, the only difference is the colors and coating materials, and yet this more traditional-looking piece has a very different visual personality to it.
The base Cartier Santos 100 reference W20073X8 model is in all steel on a black strap, while this reference W20072X7 version comes on a brown alligator strap with an 18k yellow gold bezel. It also happens to be my favorite of the bunch. The bezel is easily the most distinctive element of the Santos 100 collection, and it is something you won’t see on the Santos-Dumont. Cartier has of course produced other smaller Santos models in the past with the “screwed-in” square bezel – a look that has carried over into so much of the brand’s jewelry collection such as the very popular LOVE bangle-style bracelets which appear to have screws around it… and that are actually secured to your wrist with a screw.
This “industrial look” with exposed screws is something which marks a lot of men’s replica watches and goes back to the very first wrist watch produced by Cartier Replica for men. The story goes that, in 1904, Louis Cartier was asked by his friend Alberto Santos-Dumont to create a timepiece he could wear while flying a plane. This was just one year after the Wright brothers succeeding in their seminal “first powered flight” in 1903 in Kitty Hawk North Carolina. Brazilian by origin, Santos-Dumont spent a lot of time in Europe as well and was among a handful of other aviation pioneers around the world experimenting with early flying machines. The process of flying back then was considerably more hands-on and dangerous than it is today. It goes without saying that it required two hands all the time, and looking at a pocket watch was really not an option. So like early divers’ watches, early aviation wrist replica watches were needed because pilots needed to use both hands while operating planes.
The square shape of the watch endured, and today continues its legacy in timepieces such as this. While the exposed screws should theoretically be “engineered out,” they have become a style and decorative element which I agree helps the overall composition of the watch feel more masculine, as well as help remind you that it is indeed a machine on the wrist as opposed to a mere style or status symbol.
Going back to the appeal of the Cartier Santos 100 case, when you put it on, you realize just how curved it is. The thick lugs gracefully arch down creating a shape that allows the case to sit comfortably on the wrist but also adds some of the necessary curvature to give the Cartier Santos 100 that “organic” look which combines harmoniously with your wrist. Moreover, even though the case is square, pretty much everything has rounded edges, from the case itself to the bezel. Sharp angles are there, but they are fewer and more deliberate than the curves. In fact, part of the genius of the design is in creating a very rounded square case and having most of the true angles appear on the dial.
Cartier also has the steel Cartier Santos 100 case brushed (very well, I might add) with attractive, polished, beveled edges along the sides of the case that look fantastic. The gold bezel is all polished, and I appreciate that it is yellow versus rose gold. The most angles you’ll find on the case are in the geometric seven-sided crown which has a large blue spinel crystal cabochon in it (Cartier used to use sapphire but typically prefers spinel these days, as it is easier to industrialize and offers the same look). Replica Cartier is very skilled at making deceptively simple cases which excel due to careful visual refinements and select details which work together to make something that works very well. This is an apex of fine European luxury replica watches design because of its subtle nuances and timeless appeal.
Also notice the simple good looks of the trademark Cartier-style dial. Totally symmetrical with only the time (and no date), the light silver dial is the epitome of a fake Cartier watch with its black Roman numeral hour markers and sword-style lumed hands. Such dials work well in Cartier’s Tank replica watches, but presented as a square in a square case, I think this design looks its best. Yes, the dial is simple, but it is also rather legible and very graceful. When you really want to celebrate conservatism that works and isn’t boring, you can opt to put on a Cartier Santos 100.
Yes, inherently the Cartier Santos 100 is a simple timepiece with few gimmicks. Seasoned watch lovers may yawn at the lack of technical excitement, but that isn’t what the Cartier Santos 100 is all about. This is one of Cartier’s replica watches for “everyone” (who can afford it), and it makes up for its lack of having a special movement or features with solid good looks that are beautiful. Oh, and with 100 meters of water resistance, you could also categorize the timepiece as a “real sports watch.”
I hope that in the future Cartier may decide to slip in an in-house made movement, which I think for a lot of collectors will increase the value proposition, as this isn’t an entry-level-priced timepiece. For now, the Cartier Santos 100 has a base Swiss ETA 2892 automatic movement which does the job of being reliable and telling time decently.
Cartier uses a seamless strap attachment system which means there are no gaps between the case and the strap – which is nice. The comfortable leather strap has difficult-to-see stitching (which I prefer) and a butterfly-style deployant clasp. The clasp itself is cool-looking with a design meant to suggest the look of the bezel with its steel and 18k yellow gold construction and two visible screws. Moreover, the clasp is as well finished as the case, with additional detailing such as angle beveling. As I tend to do, I will mention that while the adjustment system allows you to carefully choose the length of each side of the strap allowing for a very precise fit, it is not designed to allow you to adjust the size of the strap very often. So initial sizing is a bit of a pain, but once you size the strap, it looks very nice on the wrist.
On the wrist, the Cartier Santos 100 sells itself and is overall a beautiful and easy-to-live-with timepiece. If I had more bad things to say about it, I would. But for what it is, this is a great watch, even though I would consider it pricey. It will not be the most complicated watch in your collection, but that isn’t where the appeal is. People enjoy watches like the Cartier Santos 100 for its classic design and versatile wearing appeal. It succeeds in being a classic that is both well-made and unique enough to serve a distinct role in your watch collection.