The Good Life

Time Flies

Pilot watches earn their wings through function and a flair for stylistic history
By Laurie Kahle | From Arnold Schwarzenegger, November/December 2019
Time Flies
Breitling Navitimer 8 BO1 with black dial and alligator leather strap.
The most significant pilot’s watch in history wasn’t a pilot’s watch—or at least not what we’d think of as one today. While technically qualifying (because it was made for a pilot), the Cartier Santos lacked the features commonly associated with the category. In 1904, the year after the Wright brothers’ first flight, the Brazilian aviator, adventurer and bon vivant of Paris society, Alberto Santos-Dumont asked his friend Louis Cartier to create a watch that he could read on his wrist—instead of reaching for a pocket watch—while he flew his aircraft. Cartier delivered the square Santos featuring the brand’s now signature Roman numerals. It would be decades before aviators …
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