James Norton wears new Cartier watch launch at the Olivier Awards

James Norton debuted a brand new Santos de Cartier timepiece at the Olivier Awards 2024. The new timepiece, with its graduated brown dial, was presented at last week's Watches & Wonders 2024 international watch fair in Geneva.

15 April 2024

By Kim Parker

Just as the world’s watch press were finally putting their feet up after a busy week surveying all the latest horological launches at the Watches & Wonders fair in Geneva, one of the hottest new timepieces from the conference was making its red carpet debut at the Olivier Awards, on the wrist of actor James Norton.

James Norton
James Norton attended The Olivier Awards 2024 at The Royal Albert Hall in London wearing a brand new Santos de Cartier watch with brown dial (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

Norton, who was nominated for a Best Actor trophy for his role in A Little Life (sadly, he lost out to Mark Gatiss for his part in The Motive and The Cue), stepped out wearing a brand new Santos de Cartier wristwatch, which perfectly matched his tweedy suit and metal aviator frames. Unveiled by Cartier at Watches & Wonders just a few days beforehand, the automatic steel timepiece boasts a new graduated brown sunray-brushed dial and is available in both a medium and large dial size.

The new Santos de Cartier
The new Santos de Cartier boasts new a sunray-brushed brown dial

Named after the daring Brazilian aviator and inventor, Alberto Santos-Dumont, the square-shaped watch with visible screws is one of Cartier’s most iconic timepiece models and harks back to the very first wristwatch made by the house. Santos-Dumont was a pioneer, winning the prestigious Deutsch Prize in 1901 for flying his No.6 airship from Parc de Saint-Cloud, just outside Paris, to the Eiffel Tower and back in 29 minutes and 30 seconds – a high-stakes flight that made international headlines and transformed him into a superstar. He later went on to help develop new models of aeroplanes, gliders and even helicopters.

Santos-Dumont was also a dear friend of Louis Cartier, who in 1904 created a sturdy, square-faced wristwatch to help him pilot his aircraft, as the pocket watches of the time were too heavy and cumbersome. With a flatter case and lugs attached to the bracelet, the bold new timepiece was Cartier’s very first wristwatch for men – far easier to wear than a pocket watch, and durable enough to withstand the rigours of flight, which Santos-Dumont likened to “pushing a candle through a brick wall”. The industrial-looking screws around its bezel weren’t just practical, they formed an integral part of the watch’s design aesthetic and provided a subtle nod to the Eiffel Tower, an important symbol of Santos-Dumont’s prize-winning flight. Being photographed on Santos-Dumont granted the timepiece incredible visibility and it became so admired that it was eventually produced for sale in 1911.

Over a century later, this stylish timekeeper is still going strong – part of a family of signature Santos watches that are a firm favourite with the high-flying stars of stage and screen such as Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Hiddleston, Rami Malek, and, of course, James Norton.

Like this? Check out the six most spectacular reveals from Watches & Wonders.

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