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Review: Diamond Cartier Santos 100 with Mother of Pearl Dial

Review: Diamond Cartier Santos 100 with Mother of Pearl Dial

cartier santos 100 review
The Cartier Santos is one of the world’s most historical and iconic watches. Born as an aviator timepiece for the wrist in the early 20th Century, the Cartier Santos has come to be more than just an instrument for telling time during flight. It is an icon in the luxury sports watch industry and a status symbol for men and women alike.

We are featuring a very special Cartier Santos watch. It’s a diamond Cartier Santos 100 with a mother of pearl dial. However, this particular Cartier Santos is not all that we want to discuss here. We also want to review the history of the Cartier Santos, so you can see why this watch is so very special to the watch world. 

Let’s start with how the Cartier Santos came into fruition and subsequently made wristwatches the universal norm.


To understand the Cartier Santos, you need to know the man who inspired its creation. His name was Alberto Santos-Dumont (1873 – 1932), a Brazilian inventor and aviation pioneer who invented the first-ever heavier-than-air, flying machine.

Now, you might be thinking, “but didn’t the Wright brothers invent the airplane?” Well, yes, they technically did, and they are who everyone thinks of when the invention of the airplane comes up (at least in America). However, many would agree that the Wright brothers’ first heavier-than-air craft didn’t meet the criteria to be the first “true” airplane. The Wright brothers’ aircraft couldn’t get itself into the air. The engine was only able to move at a ground speed of 6mph, which is 22mph less than what it needed to generate lift. As such, their initial flights required a strong headwind. Later, they began making use of a catapult to take off.

The point is, the Wright brothers flight experiments starting in 1903 didn’t involve a plane that could take off and fly completely on its own.

It was Alberto Santos-Dumont who had the first heavier-than-air craft that could fly entirely under its own steam (which also had wheels unlike the Wright brothers’ initial inventions).

What’s more, Alberto Santos-Dumont was the first to take his experiments public. In 1906, he took the first-ever public flight for the whole world to see. Conversely, the Wright brothers held their experiments in secrecy, waiting on patents and contracts for their flying machine. They didn’t take a public flight until 1908, 2 years after the Brazilian superstar-aviator amazed Paris.

All in all, there is a lot of controversy regarding this topic. Both the Wright brothers and Alberto Santos-Dumont have a reasonable claim to this incredible, world-altering feat. Moreover, both are highly respected for their accomplishments. But, we must pay our respect to Alberto Santos-Dumont, as this is really about the saga of the Cartier Santos watch, which has the Brazilian pilot’s name for reasons which you are about to read…

cartier santos review


Over the course of Alberto Santos-Dumont’s flight experiments (and competitions), which began in Paris as early as 1897, and saw multiple crashes, eventually leading up to his major public 14-bis airplane event in 1906, Santos-Dumont would keep track of his flights with a pocket watch. This wasn’t ideal considering he needed to read the time instantly and without having to take his hands off of the controls. Every second mattered for Santos-Dumont when in flight. As such, pocket watches were almost useless.

Being that Santos-Dumont was good friends with the famous Parisian watchmaker Louis Cartier, he discussed the seriousness of needing an accurate timepiece that he could instantly read to monitor his progress during experiments and competitions.

Pocket watches were the fashion of the time, and wristwatches, while having existed for nearly a century prior, were considered a feminine accessory that no man would ever be caught wearing. However, when Louis Cartier presented the idea of a wristwatch to Santos-Dumont, he immediately saw the importance of its functionality. It was the obvious choice.

In 1904, Louis Cartier gifted Santos-Dumont with a wristwatch for his flights. This watch wasn’t at all like the feminine wristwatches of the time. It had a rugged case with integrated lugs and a leather strap. It was a watch durable enough to withstand the likely crashes Santos-Dumont would have in his pursuit of man-powered flight. Moreover, it was large enough to read instantaneously. Santos-Dumont was very proud of this watch, both for its aesthetics and functionality. He wore it on every flight thereafter.


On November 12, 1906, when Alberto Santos-Dumont took flight in front of the world in his 14-bis plane, flying 220 meters (722 ft) in 21.5 seconds, he was wearing his “Cartier Santos Dumont” wristwatch (which actually had yet to be named as such).

During the next couple of years, Santos-Dumont kept breaking records as his flights increased in length and speed. And with every flight, there was his Cartier watch on his wrist. Needless to say, he was making himself a huge name in the media. He was all the talk. The best part was, his personality was a big as his success in the world of flight. With all of his appearances, which were many, he was wearing his Cartier wristwatch. This almost immediately turned the idea of the wristwatch as a female fashion faux pas into a must-have accessory for men around the globe.

Because everyone wanted a Cartier wristwatch like Santos-Dumont’s, Cartier put the wristwatch into production and it became available to the public in 1911…Of course, it was named after the larger-than-life pilot himself, the ‘Cartier Santos’ wristwatch. It was immediately a major success. 

All in all, it seemed like the transition from pocket watches to wristwatches happened overnight. Everyone wanted a wristwatch and pocket watches began falling out of fashion. The world of wristwatches has never looked back.

So, while the Cartier Santos is not the first wristwatch ever, just like Alberto Santos isn’t the first to ever take flight, technically, it is the wristwatch that set the industry of watchmaking on a completely new path.

cartier santos 100 with diamonds


The Cartier Santos has seen quite a few iterations, upgrades, and even name changes over the last century. However, the collection has always held true to its original DNA.

When the watch first came out in 1911, it was the “Cartier Santos-Dumont”. Some years later, it was shortened to the Cartier Santos. It kept this as its official name all the way up until 1987, at which point the collection had a more significant update, thus relaunching as the Santos Galbee.

The Galbee has a more curvaceous around the lugs aesthetic. Nevertheless, it still has its original square case and overall Santos swagger.

The Galbee held production until 2004 when Cartier launched the Cartier Santos 100 in honor of the watch’s 100th anniversary. The Cartier Santos 100 was the true modernization of the iconic, classic Cartier Santos-Dumont that had been introduced to the world through the wrist of Alberto Santos-Dumont 100 years prior.

Currently, there are two Carter Santos models in production, the Santos De Cartier and the Santos-Dumont.

As the bustdown diamond Cartier Santos you see here is the Cartier Santos 100, which is among the most desirable Cartier Santos references, let’s discuss this model in more detail…


cartier santos 100 large

The release of the Cartier Santos 100 was in commemoration of the Cartier Santos’ 100 year anniversary.

It is no longer in production. So, you can only buy the Cartier Santos 100 on the secondary market now.

The Santos 100, which you see here, is a beautifully balanced stainless steel modernization of the original Santos. Diamonds aside, the watch is extremely versatile. You could wear it both on casual and formal occasions without missing a beat.

The main aesthetic of the watch is characterized by the screwed-on square bezel, as well as the robust, square yet ergonomic, and curvy yet angular case (oxymoronic, we know). Then, you have the unique blue sapphire in the crown too.

The Cartier Santos 100 comes in three sizes, Medium, Large and XL. This one is a Large, so it has a 38mm x 51mm case. We classify it as a 38mm, but with the square shape of the case, it actually wears more like a 40mm-41mm watch. As for thickness, it is a respectable 10.34mm thick, so it slides under a dress cuff with ease while still giving you a substantial feeling on the wrist. Overall, it is one of the bigger Cartier Santos watches, making it ideal for the modern man (or woman). As we all know, bigger watches (yet not too big and thick) are in right now.

history of alberto santos-dumont


Many Cartier Santos watches in the past had quartz movements, but not this one. Although it is not an in-house movement by Cartier, which we would have loved, it is a highly successful automatic movement by Rolex, known as the ETA 2892. Considering the movement is attached with the Rolex name, you already know it is a workhorse. It is highly reliable and accurate with a power reserve of 48 hours.

By the way, this watch is waterproof down to 100 meters…Yes, even with the diamond setting, make no mistake!


What makes this particular Cartier Santos 100 unique is, of course, it’s jaw-dropping, ultra-beaming, pave diamond setting.

Small round brilliant diamonds of exquisite quality cover the case, bezel, bracelet and clasp. This includes the sides of the case too. The only places that don’t have diamonds are the edges and the iconic screws in the bezel.

The diamond setting was done with the highest standard. Each diamond was hand-set by a master gem-setter. He spent countless hours meticulously drilling the stainless steel and setting the diamonds into the watch. We guarantee that each and every diamond is set with absolute security, so they will never fall out. Moreover, the placement of each diamond is positively flawless. On the wrist, this watch has the most incredible light performance. Pictures can only do the watch a very small amount of justice. In person, the watch is a true show-stopper.

What’s really cool is that this watch is unquestionably unisex. It would look just as good on a woman as it would a man. It’s a couple’s dream watch because they would both be able to rock it without feeling out of place in the slightest.

Related: Diamonds Cartier Santos His & Hers Watches

All in all, the diamond setting is stunning and impeccably well-done. What makes it even cooler is the breathtaking Mother of Pearl dial, which complements the diamond’s shine magnificently.

history of the cartier santos watch


This dial is not your typical Cartier Santos 100 dial by any means. Normally you have the elegant radial Roman numerals on a clean, solid-colored base. However, this watch has an ever-intriguing Mother of Pearl dial.

Mother of Pearl dials are saved for only the finest luxury watches. The fine material is hand-crafted from the outer coating of a pearl, hence the name.

The most distinguishing feature of a Mother of Pearl dial is its beautiful iridescence. The dial changes colors as you shift your wrist, from shades of green, blue, pink and purple. It has a very luxurious look, which is why it is so desirable.

Not only is the Mother of Pearl dial stunning, but it is also highly durable. This makes it even more sought after. On top of that, it requires highly skilled workmanship to produce. There are many steps involved in creating a Mother of Pearl dial. With that, watches with Mother of Pearl dials, like this Cartier Santos 100, are more expensive…

Plus, this Mother of Pearl dial features diamond indices! The perfect touch for the gorgeous pearl backdrop.

bustdown watch with mother of pearl dial


This beautiful, classic, mother of pearl dial, diamond Cartier Santos 100 is now for sale at Diamonds By Raymond Lee in Boca Raton. The watch is in perfect condition and the movement has been thoroughly checked by an expert watchmaker. If you are interested in purchasing this watch, you can contact us for more details or you can come into our state-of-the-art showroom in East Boca Raton to learn more and try it on.

See the full sales listing for the Cartier Santos 100 All Diamond Mother Of Pearl Dial Watch

You can also purchase this watch online. We use same-day shipping. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have. 


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