3 New Watches For 2020 From Cartier, Montblanc, And Roger Dubuis
by Martin Green
While we might now have time to perfect our tooth-brushing rituals, repaint the garden fence and put all our socks in color-coordinated order in our drawers, social quarantine can also be used as a time of self-reflection. Not that I have much choice when it is just me, myself and I, but at least I’m learning a lot about myself.
One of the things I never truly realized (or was brave enough to admit to myself) is how much I love watches. Not being able to get my start-of-the-year fix with the Watches & Wonders (formerly SIHH) and Baselworld 2020 fairs has had more effect on me that I thought. Over the years, it has become a pleasant routine to meet friends from the industry, chat about all the new watches and developments, and get up close and personal with the latest watches.
Still, I am fortunate as I have yet to become ill, and modern technology allows me to stay in touch with so many people within the industry. Nevertheless, writing about watches before I have had a chance to handle them in person is something I hopefully don’t have to get used to in the long run!
Here are three new watches that we would have seen for the first time at Watches & Wonders 2020, had it run, that we now present digitally.
Cartier Santos-Dumont XL
“Give the people what they want.” For many leaders these are words to live by. And Cartier also seems to have taken them to heart because when it launched the new generation of the Santos-Dumont in 2019, a lot of people liked the looks of this quartz-only model but would have loved to have also seen powered by a mechanical movement. That watch is now here in the form of the Santos-Dumont XL.
I cringe when an esteemed brand like Cartier uses a term like “XL” in a model name. Firstly, because I always associate this with clothing and not so much watches; and secondly, because Cartier is especially masterful in making smaller watches. I have little to worry about, though, because while 46.6 x 33.9 mm is substantial for what is in essence still a dress watch, is it the height of only 7.5 mm that ensures this watch maintains an elegant character.
The movement that ticks inside the Santos-Dumont XL is a real treat. Designated as Caliber 430 MC here, it is based on manual-wind Caliber 430P by Piaget.
This is not the first time that Cartier has used this movement as we can also find it in the Tortue Extra Thin, Ballon Blue 40 and 46 Extra Flat, and even in the bezel-less predecessor of this Santos-Dumont.
At a height of only 2.1 mm, it is indeed very thin, but it is also a movement that has proven itself as robust and reliable since Piaget introduced it in 1998.
Despite its low profile, the Santos-Dumont XL offers a lot of depth in its design. This is not so much thanks to the dial, which is kept quite classic in appearance, but more thanks to the sloped bezel and screws that cut deep into it and the case’s perfect finish.
Due to the larger size of the case, the lugs are even longer, so I am curious as to how this works on the wrist. Cartier opted for one of its most traditional crown designs combining a sapphire cabochon with a beaded base.
Cartier also wanted to set the strap as flush as possible to the case and used metal inserts to achieve this. Fortunately, this doesn’t prevent the owner from putting straps on the watch that were not made by Cartier for the model. While some might not care much about this, I always like to have the freedom to put any strap on the watch I want.
Its pricing is competitive for this part of the watch market. For the Santos-Dumont XL in stainless steel Cartier is asking €4,700. This is €1,000 more than the large model in stainless steel with a quartz movement.
I personally always feel that the steel/gold models are overpriced, though: €6,500 is a hefty premium to pay for the addition of only a gold bezel. However, the €12,500 that Cartier wants for the all-gold model makes it only €900 more expensive than the large model with quartz movement, but significantly cheaper than the €16,600 that Cartier wanted for its all gold predecessor.
For more information, please visit www.cartier.com/en-us/collections/watches/mens-watches/santos-de-cartier/santos-dumont.
Quick Facts Cartier Santos-Dumont XL
Case: 46.6 x 33.9 x 7.5 mm, stainless steel, two-tone steel with pink gold, and full 18-karat pink gold
Movement: manual-wind Caliber 430 MC, 3Hz/21,600 vph frequency, 38-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: €4,700 for stainless steel; €6,500 for steel/gold; €12,500 for full gold model
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Twofold
Material innovations have almost become a thing of their own within the watch industry. While new movements and complications often get a more rousing welcome, the new materials play a larger role than one might imagine. They have the power to not only change the look of a watch but also to give it a new experience on the wrist. Carbon fiber and ceramic have been a focus for many brands, but Roger Dubuis shows with the new Excalibur Twofold that there are also other options.
This pure white watch gets its clean looks from a material called Mineral Composite Fiber, which is created by stacking thin layers of silica and adding a white epoxy to it. While creating such a material is a high-tech process in itself, it also requires quite some time and effort to turn it into cases and bezels.
And Roger Dubuis didn’t stop there because even some of the most characteristic parts of the skeletonized movement are covered with a frame of Mineral Composite Fiber. Combined with the rubber strap, this makes for a watch that promotes white to center stage.
For this reason, I think that the Excalibur Twofold is a perfect summer watch. However, this Roger Dubuis has more to offer that even goes beyond its double flying tourbillon. The Mineral Composite Fiber components placed on the skeletonized movement glow in low-light conditions.
Roger Dubuis used a special Super-LumiNova to get this effect, also offering that the glow lasts up to 60 percent longer than the more commonly used varieties.
But this is not all that lights up: LumiSuperBiwiNova™, a special technology with a name that could have come from a Star Wars droid, allowed Roger Dubuis to make the FKM rubber of the strap luminescent as well.
While that serves as much purpose as glow-in-the-dark bottles of Dom Perignon, it does add a sense of fun in these dark times. And we can all use some of that!
For more information, please visit www.rogerdubuis.com/watches/excalibur/excalibur-twofold.
Quick Facts Roger Dubuis Excalibur Twofold
Case: 45 x 15 mm, case, bezel, case back, and crown made from Mineral Composite Fiber
Movement: manual-wind Caliber RD01SQ, twice 3Hz/21,600 vph frequency, double flying tourbillon, 50-hour power reserve, Seal of Geneva
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 8 pieces
Montblanc Heritage Monopusher Chronograph
As a fountain pen aficionado, it has taken me a long time to warm up to Montblanc’s watch offerings. While there have been models that caught my attention in the recent past, it was the 1858 collection that marked my conversion.
I am now a firm believer, becoming even more steadfast in my belief when I saw the new Heritage Monopusher Chronograph in a stainless steel case and with a lovely salmon-colored dial. I have been a fan of this dial color for years and in particular love the deep and slightly darker shade that Montblanc delivers.
But that is not all that makes this watch so exceptional: the different finishes on the dial, especially the center ring with grainé finish and the slightly recessed running seconds and minute counter, take it to the next level. Small red details complement the salmon color as do the three blued hands of the chronograph functions.
What also helps is the old-fashioned look of the Montblanc logo. It might be a detail, but it does round off the old-school feeling of this watch.
Make no mistake, though, Montblanc is perfectly aware that this watch might be an ode to times long gone, yet worn by modern people. With a diameter of 42 mm its size is spot on, especially since the brand only uses very little of the size for the bezel and most of it for the dial.
The case itself is not very exciting, but there is also no need for it to be. What is nice is that it lacks the extra buttons usually needed for the chronograph as this is a monopusher. That gives the watch a nice, clean look.
The case back might be a bit confusing, as there is no Minerva movement to be admired, but instead a closed stainless steel case back with an engraving depicting the heydays of the Minerva manufacture. It is done beautifully, and I feel little need to see the movement itself, perhaps also because the Caliber MB 25.12 powering this watch is based on the Sellita SW510.
We can mourn this decision, but the fact of the matter is that this choice also allows Montblanc to keep the price at a rather pleasant level, which is something that would not be the case with a Minerva manufacture movement. However, the SW510 is a tried-and-tested workhorse movement, and the monopusher sets it apart from many other watches using the same base.
For more information, please visit www.montblanc.com/en-us/collection/watches/montblanc-heritage.
Quick Facts Montblanc Heritage Monopusher Chronograph
Case: 42 x 14.7 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber MB 25.12 (based on Sellita SW510), 4Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 48-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; monopusher chronograph