Perfume Directory

Santos (1981)
by Cartier


Santos information

Year of Launch1981
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 273 votes)

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About Santos

Named after the early aviator Santos Dumont, for whom Cartier created the first wrist watch. The fragrance includes notes of Lavender, Nutmeg, Vetiver and Sandalwood.

Santos fragrance notes

  1. Top Notes
  2. Heart Notes
  3. Base notes

Reviews of Santos

What a wonderful addition to my Wardrobe. Early 80's will have you luxuriating in a solid base of Quality Sandal, Cedar and Vetiver reminiscent to the greats like Bel Ami, Patou Pour Homme and Bois du Portugal.
Unlike those, a sophisticated Masala led by Nutmeg and countered with a layered Lavender Bergamot start charms with an elegant Masculine air.
Sweetness is held to a minimum, however it shares the richness of the others.
Lovely stuff.
17th May, 2021
drseid Show all reviews
United States
*This is a review of vintage Santos de Cartier

Santos opens with a moderately aromatic lavender and basil spice tandem before transitioning to its heart. As the composition enters its early heart, a fine, natural smelling cedar note emerges melding with moderately sweet, smooth sandalwood rising from the base, supported by warm nutmeg and cumin spice. During the late dry-down the cedar takes the fore, with remnants of the warm spice and sandalwood adding a touch of supporting sweetness and balance through the finish. Projection is relatively minimal, and longevity on the low side of average at 7 hours on skin.

Santos is far from the typical powerhouse style compositions that were all the rage in the 80s. The composition sits relatively close to the skin, and unlike many of its bold, brash 80s contemporaries, it comes off as very classy and sophisticated. The sandalwood and cedar wood combination is the real focus, but the warm spice plays a large supporting role. With respect to the spice, when I detected cumin, I feared it would present like body odor as in many compositions containing it, but in Santos it is very natural smelling and in perfect balance with the woods and nutmeg, melding with the perfume ingredients sublimely. There is a soapiness that is most likely a derivative of the sandalwood but never calls too much attention to itself, just adding an additional touch of refinement. All-in-all the perfume is a winner to be sure, but I really wish it had better performance. I guess one can't have everything. The bottom line is the $30 per 30 ml bottle on the aftermarket vintage Santos de Cartier is an "excellent" 4 stars out of 5 rated anti-powerhouse perfume offering from the 80s that save for its lackluster performance metrics does just about everything else right, earning it a strong recommendation to vintage lovers seeking sophistication.

31st July, 2020
Santos first emerged in 1981, the creation of Daniel Moliere (who would go on to create Tam Dao).

While Santos unfortunately hasn't been cared for as well as Pasha has, someone at Cartier cares about it. The recent "ribbed bottle" formulation is a significant upgrade from the prior formulation, nicely maintaining the scent's distinctive spicy-sweet structure. Having tried the original formulation, I'd say the current stuff isn't far off the mark; it's a little drier, with less brown sugar in the base, but the quality is still fine.

The increasingly expensive original formulation of Santos is fairly dry, but it isn't soapy, with a touch of almost gourmand booziness underlying the heavy spices (cinammon, cumin, nutmeg, pepper). The original Santos feels essentially timeless given that it doesn't replicate the more worn cliches of its own time; in a blind-sample, this could reasonably pass as an artisanally-styled scent from a niche house like Serge Lutens.

For something that's aggressively spicy, the original Santos has a lot of restraint, reflecting the tasteful image Cartier wished to project at the time. In the air, it all comes together to form a nice, singular effect that doesn't evolve too much one way or the other: strong, elegant, and a bit exotic. (That taste for exoticism would show up again in the spicy opening of Pasha de Cartier.)

Given that Mathilde Laurent just did Pasha Parfum for Cartier, maybe there's a Santos Parfum looming on the horizon.
22nd April, 2020 (last edited: 27th July, 2020)
Superb leather fragrance. Manly, smooth, understated and smoky. One of the best releases from the 1980’s along with Derby and Baie de Genievre.
08th February, 2020
Like the Lungfish, Santos is an evolutionary halfway house. Not stuck between land and sea - like the air breathing fish - but an odd hybrid of herbal fougère and brown Seventies chypre.

I suppose that, sooner or later, someone had to put the two together and come up with this kind of dull mediocrity, but, against all the odds - and like the Lungfish - Santos survives to this day and is still lurking in his muddy hole.


Vintage miniature
29th April, 2019 (last edited: 26th July, 2019)
A moderate thumbs up, mostly out of respect for the scent versus full-fledged liking of the product.

I try to be flexible with older scents. I realize that many were competing with other brands for the hearts and bodies of the populace in their time. Loud, unapologetically brash colognes were quite the thing within the 20th century.

Santos de Cartier was one of these. It is a trail-leaving beast that fit nicely within the early 1980's when it had premiered. In its own right, Santos is classy and pleasant, so it's no drug store cheapie.

Being a product reflecting its period, a bottle of Santos (esp. the original formulation) will put off many who are used to today's cologne aesthetics. It's a cologne for older wearers, particularly those who remember the 1980's.

Spicy, aromatic, bright, but with a toned-down finish, Santos is not unlike recent scents like 2012's Christian Dior's Eau Sauvage Parfum, albeit not as sweet. I haven't had the chance to try out recent reformulations, so I cannot comment on comparisons with the original.

I MAY wear Santos around the house purely out of reverie for the past. Otherwise, I tip my hat to this credible scent series from Cartier.
05th December, 2018

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Cartier Santos 100 XL

US • Buy it now: USD 6300.00.

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