3 Steps to Authenticating a Cartier Santos Watch

Cartier is one of the most celebrated watch companies in the world. A symbol of ultimate class and luxury, the Paris based watchmaker has been designing premium timepieces along with high fashion jewelry since 1847. King Edward VII of England went on to describe the French institution as the “jeweler of kings and the king of jewelers”.

Cartier-Store-Front
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Cartier is a watchmaker that has given the world some of the best examples of haute joaillerie, creative designs that have stayed timeless in their influences over the rest of the luxury watch industry. Some of the most adored collections of Cartier include Santos, Tank, Rotonde and Pasha. The Crash collection is one of the most famous of Cartier women watches.

The Cartier Santos line is one of the most iconic watch collections in the world. Geometric shapes and exposed screws are among the notable design elements of the Santos collection, which has enamored collectors and aficionados since 1904. The collection is named after Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos Dumont, a friend of Louis Cartier. Classic designs are one of the most loved Cartier men watches.

Much sought after, Cartier Santos watches have also been victims of their own fame and spawned a wide network of counterfeit watch producers. However, there is a reason why a 170-year-old watch company that prides itself in its flawless machinations and classic designs can never be duplicated. Spotting a regular fake is simple. Counterfeiters do not have the knowledge and technology to replicate the minuscule and diligent details, sometimes hidden, that every watch expert knows about. Check out these 3 tips and share them with your fellow watch collectors and enthusiasts.

1. The Casing

Starting with the casing, remember that a Cartier Santos is screwed in and not a snap back. This is another intricate and highly detailed yet simple mechanism which most counterfeiters fail to develop a capacity for and hence the lack of screws is an important indicator for alarm bells. Cartier’s plating is also legendary. At a thickness of 20 microns, Cartier plates on silver age gracefully, adding to the allure of the watch. There is rarely any even wear that usually accounts for a dull old look. If these don’t show up in your analysis, the piece you are looking at is most probably a fake.

A Cartier watch is built for eternity. This is a collectible that is an object of desire for celebrities and collectors alike. A hundred-year-old Cartier Santos watch continues to function like it was built just yesterday and maintains a royal look, so if your Cartier casing shows shoddy engraving, you know it is a dud. Cartier watches are said to look better as they get older, cases sculpted like works of art. The watches come with a serial number which can be validated.

2. The Front and Back

There is a certain set of Cartier Santos signatures that you need to cross-check with official details of the model that you are looking at. Roman numerals, blue indicators, the blue gem on the crown and the Cartier inscription are some of the main ones, distinguishable at first sight. A beautiful guillochage usually sits on the dial, another exquisite touch that Cartier is famous for. Low-quality fake Cartier watches will have shoddy finishing, screws that are different and badly finished prints on the dial. With a magnifying glass, you can look at the smaller prints on the dial, the Swiss Made at the bottom or the Cartier on the 10-hour marker. Shallow printing is usually what gives away the counterfeit products.

The details of an original Cartier watch do not stop at the front. A Cartier Santos will feature a finely engraved trademark deep enough into the back plate. Look for possible discrepancies in the ‘Cartier’, an inconsistent C or the lack of a straight-line orientation of the letters. These sets of words – “Water Resistant, Swiss Made, and OR 750/Acier” are found under each other. Finding this typography is the first step to authenticate a Cartier Watch.

3. The Movement

When you are buying a luxury watch or a vintage collectible timepiece, your desire is to own a piece of unparalleled machinery and engineering. The movement is what separates the authentic from the fake. Even the best-looking counterfeit products falter at this. Cartier, just like all the established watchmaking houses of Europe, has perfected the art of sharp typography and perfect fitting engineering. The movement of a Cartier Santos simply cannot be replicated.

Open the watch and have a reference point, a clear photograph of a certified Cartier so you can cross-check the details. With most fakes, a first look is enough to tell you that this is not the real deal. An original movement fits in snugly, a precise integration of the machinery into the frame. The fake ones do not showcase this detail. You can also compare the markings. The original engravings are much deeper and sharper while the replica will not sport these details in the typography. The wires will also give you another indicator of whether a Cartier is a fake or not. A real Cartier watch will feature wiring that is well coated to protect against erosion. A fake, on the other hand, will have wires that have a light coating, another testimony to the detail that only an original can give. Fine finishing is a hallmark of the ETA movements that Cartier employs in its various watch collections.

You’re armed with precise details to help authenticate a Cartier Santos Watch. Have a look at the collection here and add something valuable to your closet!

Swati Talwar

Global Content and India Office Head

Seasoned lover of the written word. Travel junkie and Hogwarts alumni. Currently composing notes for the upcoming fashion week. You can also call me Licorne Magique (don't ask me why!).

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