Words: Mitalee Deshpande

‘Dos Santos’ problems with reading time while flying spurred Cartier to make the first modern wrist watch’



Living an extravagant lifestyle of the likes of the 17th century seems impractical in today’s times where luxury, once a rarity, is now found around every corner. With globalisation at its peak, the sumptuous glory of luxury goods has been reduced to common, everyday objects. Amidst all this chaos and blurred lines, Cartier the French jewellery and watchmaking mogul has climbed to the top of the luxury goods market with their willingness to innovate for sheer decadence. The Cartier Maison reached the Salone del Mobile in Milan to display an astonishing themed design installation and exhibition, “The Legendary Thrill,” that will bring to mind the forerunner of aviation, Alberto Santos Dumont in their new collection Santos de Cartier.

Celebrating the iconic first wristwatch created by the Maison in 1904, Arco della Pace, the historical landmark of Milan will witness a 60m long pop up gallery inspired by the concept of exposed technology. Santos Dumont, who took off the 14 Bis plane from a park in Paris in 1906, exposed the Cartier founder to the difficulty of reading time from the pocket watch while flying, thereby giving birth to the first modern wristwatch. The Legendary Thrill pays a tribute to the two visionaries by erecting a transparent permanent gallery built by the Giò Forma studio. The two twin limestone toll booth buildings connected by the gallery will house installations that make the insignificant perceptible.

Reimagining the 14 Bis plane with high tech materials of the 21st century the centre, made of a crystal cube of 12m, will accommodate a 14 Bis plane model which will create magic in the fading lights of the sunset with a show of LEDs, music and projections. The interiors retain the cubical shape in various sizes depicting the journey of the flight that earned the very first three world records. Red, the colour of Cartier, is present throughout the gallery, taking the shape of the Bis plane model and the celebrated Cartier red box. Inaugurated with a private cocktail party, the event featured entertainment by the internationally acclaimed DJ Martin Solveig. The gallery also witnessed two talks by Mario Bellini and Giovanni Soldini, and Antonio Alessandrino Riccardo Donadon and David Oldani on the visionaries and innovators, the Santos men. The event was attended by the celebrated Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, Italian model, actress and socialite Bianca Brandolini d’Adda, film director Elisa Sednaoui and Italian quick change artist Arturo Brachetti. A permanent fixture in the city of Milano in the vicinity of the neoclassical Arco della Pace whose origins can be traced back to the gate of the Roman walls of Milan, the gallery’s modern architecture is a perfect juxtaposition to the Arch’s history.