Santos de Cartier Lighter

Mark Weissenberger
Posted: March 29, 2004
Sometimes size really doesn't matter. It's the overall build that counts.

Take, for instance, the Santos de Cartier Lighter. This squat, little lighter measures approximately 2 1/4 inches long, a little more than an inch wide and a half inch deep. However, it's solidly constructed. The lighter has a matte lacquer body and a steel-finished cap and trim. It weighs three ounces, which sounds lightweight, until it's jangling around your pants pocket, when there's little you can do to forget it's there.

The aesthetics of the Santos de Cartier is a lure. The frame's oval shape makes you want to hold and rotate it around your palm like a pair of Chinese massage balls. The lighter's modern design is derived from a popular Cartier watch line of the same name. Both the lighter and the watch share a decorative pattern that includes four tiny rivets around the body of the piece. On the lighter, two rivets on each side adorn the steel band beneath the cap.

The cap is firmly affixed to the body of the lighter by two tiny screws located on the cap's inside. A miniaturized hydraulic tool is also attached from the cap to the lighter body and assists in the opening and closing. When the Santos de Cartier closes, you'll know it. It doesn't just snap shut, it clamps shut. (Clink.) The metal-on-metal sound is like the gentle tap of a rock hammer on a small chisel's head.

Of course, the true test of a lighter is its ability to light. The Santos de Cartier Lighter produces a flame with a simple sideways flick of the thumb. The flame is adjustable, but in keeping with the lighter's small size, won't go to tiki torch heights. A screw covers the gas refill valve on the bottom.

The Santos de Cartier Lighter is available at Cartier's retail boutiques. It costs $380.

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