Cartier introduced in 2009 their first commercial watch with a black case. This watch, the Santos 100 Carbon was actually a worthy successor of the black bakelite Santos, that Cartier had made in 1923, but that could have been a piece unique. The new Santos 100 carbon was quite a sensation, when it was released and became in short time very popular. Cartier claimed that the ADLC coating was very strong and not comparable with, the PVD coatings used by other brands. A watch with a PVD coating is more sensitive to scratches and therefore needs to be treated with care. PVD is actually very scratch sensitive and it also comes off and needs to be treated with care.
ADLC is an acronym for amorphous diamond-like carbon, which is applied at a temperature of 200° Celsius. This coating is highly elastic, extremely hard and extra-ordinarily smooth. Because it is diamond-like carbon, it is also almost scratch free and finger print proof. ADLC was developed by Cartier during the research that ‘La Maison’ did for the ID-ONE prototype watch and it was used for some moving parts in the ID-TWO prototype watch. All metal parts in the case of the ID-II, like the bridges for instance, are made out of titanium and are ADLC coated. The coating creates a layer, that is unaffected by constant wear, self-lubricating and shock-resistant. This should give an idea how strong it actually is.
The Santos 100 CARBON series is retired and the only black watch in the current collection is the Santos Skeleton from the Fine Watch Making Collection. This is a very exclusive watch with a complete different price tag, than the Santos 100 carbon. People that were happy to give the medium priced Black Santos 100 a try, may hesitate paying a premium price for the cool Santos Dumont Skeleton, while they’re not sure, if and how the black coating will last.
I bought an ADLC Santos 100 carbon myself and I am wearing the watch almost daily, since Summer 2009 . When I say wearing, I really mean wearing! This includes all the rigors of modern daily life, like exercises with machines in the gym, running on the treadmills, lifting weights, adventures holidays, world traveling and swimming in both fresh as well as salt water; actually all activities, where I would normally leave my watch at home.
Last weekend I made some pictures of my own ADLC Santos, especially of the sensitive areas like the corners, crown guards, folding buckle and edges of the case, to show how the watch survived over the years.
Imagine how many times the buckle was opened and closed. Nowhere on the inside, even at the sharper edges, shows anything of black that had come off.
Actually the watch is still pristine with exception of one hardly visible scratch on the buckle. Not a bad result, since this is exactly a part of the watch, that constantly makes contact with the hard surfaces, of tables and desks.
Other parts of ant watch case that are sensitive are the corners of the lugs. Even here all four are still like the first day, when I got the watch.
And the crown guards, also an area that easily knocks to hard objects. Take a look at the pretty sharp edges near the crown and the sides.
A watch should actually be put away on its crown, to protect the side of the watch case at the number three. I never do and let the watch sleep on the side of the case. In case of a gold or polished steel watch, one always notices a slightly mat surface after some time, or tiny hairlines.
Not with the ADLC coating, as the picture shows clearly. I must say that I was surprised that the coating is so strong and does so well, during years of daily use.
ADLC has proven, to be an ideal coating, for the outside of a watch case. Strong and almost indestructible. The current Santos Dumont Skeleton is available in white-, pink gold and in ADLC.
If your choice of these three versions, would happen to be the black one, these pics may be convincing enough, to trust the durability of that gorgeous black satin finish.
–GEO is contributor of Revo-Online & Revolution Magazine and passionate about Cartier, independents and fine watchmaking,
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