There are two notable firsts for Cartier here: this is the first watch caliber in the company’s history designed specifically for the men’s “sports” market, and it’s the first equipped with an automatic mechanical movement crafted entirely in-house at its La Chaux-de-Fonds workshopin Switzerland.
Cartier’s 1904-PS MC mechanical movement is an automatic mechanism — the watch is wound by kinetic energy, and the swing of your arm as you walk is enough to keep it ticking. But it’s particularly intricate and unique when compared to other automatic movements, and the technological standouts are numerous. It uses double barrels (most automatic watches traditionally have one), and this gives it a highly constant chronometry throughout the duration of the watch’s 48-hour power reserve. This means the watch will display time accurately and consistently for two days after you take it off your wrist, even though at that point it’s no longer getting wound by the movement of your arm. The Calibre also has a bi-directional winding system in place rather than a more conventional one-way winding of the gears. The rotor’s motion is smoothed by ceramic ball bearings instead of oil. This protects it from shock and makes trips to the repair shop less frequent. (This extra shock resistance must be where the “sports” angle comes in.)
Cartier has maintained a long history of superior jewelry making, dating back to 1847. In 1904, Brazilian pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont told Louis Francois Cartier that his pocket watch was neither reliable nor practical for aviation purposes. In response to his friend’s complaint, Cartier designed a wristwatch with a slim case and a square bezel named the “Santos” – the first Cartier men’s watch, and an enduring part of their collection.